The Hannigan Family

St. Bonaventure University is in many ways built upon strong relationships and core values. Interweaving these elements enables the institution to fulfill its legacy and continue to prosper for future generations. The tradition of relations is fully encompassed within this community. The Hannigan family is worthy of note for their contributions to the Olean area and the St. Bonaventure campus. The family were among those the Franciscan friars first served in the area.  The friars would canoe up the river and Mary Clary Hannigan, who'd immigrated from Ireland with husband Patrick, provided candlestick holders for their celebration of Mass.  Mary Shea Hannigan was first woman to receive  St. Bonaventure's Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree in 1954. Her daughter, Helen Hannigan was also a recipient in 1974. Both mother and daughter had lives full of extraordinary achievements. 

Mary Shea Hannigan

Mary Shea Hannigan began her primary education at St. Mary of the Angels and graduated from North Olean High School. She went on to attend the Buffalo State Teachers College graduating in 1905. She continued at St. Bonaventure earning a Bachelor of Arts degree.  Hannigan taught in the Olean School System for 25 years, where she made an outstanding impression on her community. Some notable accomplishments include: An active participant on the  Board of Education in Olean, its first woman president in 1952-1953, the first president of the Parent Teachers Association of school no. 7, area chairperson of the St. Ruth District Bishop of Buffalo's committee for Christian Home and Family, a charter member of court Dean Hamel, and a member of St. Bonaventure Alumnae Association. Mrs. Hannigan was also a devoted member of her church and the Catholic Daughters of America. Her ambition and spirituality are among some of her most remembered qualities. Mary Shea Hannigan died on May 6, 1963 and rests at St. Bonaventure Cemetery. Mary Shea Hannigan raised four children with her husband George. Their daughter Helen Hannigan was born on Dec, 17, 1915.

Helen Hannigan

Helen Hannigan was also a graduate of Olean High School and like her mother continued her education through St. Bonaventure University. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Bonaventure in 1936. From there she expanded her intellectual journey at the New York State College for Teachers in Albany, receiving a Masterís degree in education. Among some of her many accomplishments, Helen taught in the Olean school district for 38 years. During this time she served 20 years as chairperson of the Junior High School English program, and also served on the Olean Board of Education. She was the president and active officer in Oleanís original Alumnae Group, and a member of the Olean Civil Service Commission. Her faith was expressed through her loyal and active participation as a member of St. Mary of the Angels church and a past grand regent for the Catholic Daughters of America. Some of her interests include fundraising for Archbishop Walsh High School, St. Francis Hospital, and her local parish. Helenís distinguished achievements included supervising teachers in the cadet teacher program in the Education Department of St. Bonaventure, 1970 Alumnae of the Year, and an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy Degree from St. Bonaventure. Similar to her mother, Helen chose a Franciscan path of life and made many contributions to her community. St. Bonaventure University is built upon tradition, where generations of family have had similar accomplishments. The Hannigan family is a prime example of this legacy.

A small collection of material related to the Hannigan Family is housed in the archives. (acc. no. 2009.9)

This page created by: Emily Flaherty for History Internship Spring 2011

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Last updated: 02/04/2013