Gaelic Forms of the Family Name

Irish/Scottish Gaelic forms of Hanney/Hanna/Hannay/Hannah


{Note to the reader: For the sake of readability, ‘Hanney’ in this article is used to represent all forms of the surname Hanney/Hanna/Hannay/Hannah.}

  • Goidelic ( Gaelic ) languages historically formed a dialect continuum stretching from Ireland through the Isle of Man to Scotland. There are 3 modern Goidelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and Manx (Gaelg).
  • The Irish version of the name Hanney is Ó hAnnaidh( in the Nominative form ) and is one of the few examples of a Gàidhlig surname with “Ó” as prefix.
  • The vast majority of Hanneys in Ireland are descendants of 17th century Scottish Planters, especially in Ulster. These settlers eventually migrated to all parts of Ireland including areas where the main language spoken, was Irish.

Traditional forms of Irish Surnames

Those who have experience researching their family history, will be aware that different spellings of their surname have been used by their ancestors, even by the same individual, on different official documents. This happened often when the individual was illiterate and the surname was recorded by an official, as he/she thought it should be spelled.

In Irish, traditionally the surname ( Sloinne ) changes depending on the individual’s place in the household.


Gearóid      Ó hAnnaidh :
Bean         Uí Annaidh  : Wife
Róisín        Ní Annaidh  : Daughter
Seán         Ó hAnnaidh : Son
(Sometimes hAnnaidh is written h-Annaidh).

Therefore, when doing research using online Census Records from 1901/1911, if you have ancestors who lived in parts of Ireland where Irish used to be the main language, you need to be familiar with the above variations of Hanney in Irish.

I give below two examples of records taken from the online 1911 Irish Census. Due to the 100-year rule, details for any Census after 1911 are not yet online.


Whether your Irish-speaking ancestors had their names recorded in Irish may have depended on the person who completed the census form, knowing Gaeilge. The names may have been ‘transcribed’ ( correctly or not ) into English.

A further cause of these variations occurred when the National School system was established throughout Ireland. The national system actively discouraged any distinct elements of Irish culture within the school system, most notably the Irish language, until the early 1900s. Nor was Irish used as the medium of education. It is said that teachers who did not speak Irish were sent to schools in Irish-speaking areas and these would tell the children ( perhaps incorrectly ) what their surnames were ( in English ).

In a similar fashion, when Irish-speakers emigrated to an English-speaking country and were registered upon arrival, they were normally registered under an anglicised version of their name. A lot depended on the individual doing the recording, being educated and knowledgeable of the surnames in Ireland. Then, from that point on, that was the surname they had to use when dealing with authorities.


Please, take note of these surname variants that can exist in census records:

Ó hAnnaidh /  Ó h-Annaidh  / Uí Annaidh / Ní Annaidh

These same variants in Irish surnames will also crop up in other official documents in Irish speaking areas e.g. church records, gravestone inscriptions, journals etc.

Gearóid Ó hAnnaidh                     2021-04-28

Dance: The Hannays Return to Sorbie

Clan member Gerard Hanney sent us the following Scottish Country Dance created by Helen Russell.  It is intended to be performed while accompanied by The Hannays Return to Sorbie. You can listen to the chief playing this tune on the smallpipes here.

Gerard adds that Ms. Russell “composed the dance at my request when she came to Luxembourg to teach at a SCD workshop. She incorporated a H & S into the formation of the dance ( when seen from above ).”


The file can be downloaded here.

Gerard also sent this animation demonstrating the steps:

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Robert Hanna

Clan genealogist Keith Hanna recently sent me a link to a most intriguing item which had been up for auction at Christie’s, almost twenty years ago:

JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed (“Th:Jefferson”) to General Robert Hanna (1744-1821), Monticello, 16 January 1820. 1 page, 4to, torn and professionally repaired along two folds, but with loss of two or three words in center area. [With:] JEFFERSON. Autograph FREE FRANK (“free Th:Jefferson”) on portion of address leaf addressed in Jefferson’s hand to Hanna in Franklin County, Indiana, vertical tear with loss of several text letters, signature unaffected.


A letter from you, dear Sir, comes to me like one from the tombs of the dead, so long is it since I have had any evidence that you were still in the land of the living, and so few are now so who were fellow laborers in the struggle for the liberation of our country, and I rejoice to find that advancing years are the only assailants on your health mentioned in your letter. Time as well as ill health bear heavily on me. Immediately on the receipt of your letter I forwarded it to the President with the expression of the interest I feel for [your petition], and he will not be slow in giving his attention to giving [his atten]tion to revolutionary worthies. I tender you my best wishes for the continuance of your life and health as long as you shall yourself wish them, to continue….

Who was Robert Hanna?

Hanna was born in Virginia in 1744 and attended the College of William & Mary with Jefferson. He subsequently moved to South Carolina, where he seems at one point to have held the position of Surveyor General. He married Mary Parks (1744-1834) and had five children. As a soldier in the Revolutionary War, Robert saw action in ten battles within the colony and at least one in Vermont, and he rose to the rank of brigadier-general by the end of hostilities.  The family moved to Indiana in 1804. His son Robert, Jr. (1786-1858) was a delegate to Indiana’s state constitutional convention in 1816 and later became a U.S. senator.  At the time of Jefferson’s letter, Hanna was living in Brookville, Franklin County, where he died the following year. His tombstone reads:

In memory of Robert Hanna

Was born Dec. 10th 1744
And departed this life
The 24th of January 1821
He was A brave defender
Of his Country’s Rights
And lived and died an honest man


  • “Auction Results.” JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph Letter, Christie’s Auction House, 2003, Retrieved 1/28/2021.
  • “Robert Hanna Sr. (1744-1821) – Find A Grave…” Find a Grave, Retrieved 1/28/2021.
  • The American Revolution in South Carolina – Captain Robert Hanna, 2009, Retrieved 1/28/2021.
  • “Members of Indiana’s 1816 Constitutional Convention.” Indiana Historical Bureau, 15 Dec. 2020, Retrieved 1/28/2021.

Hannays in the 14th Century

Excerpted from The Hannays of Sorbie, 4th Edition, available on in paperback or Kindle. All profits from sales go to the Clan Hannay Society.

In 1329, when David Bruce succeeded his father Robert to become King David II of Scotland, Edward Balliol, the son of John Baliol, disputed the succession. The dispute went to Edward III of England, and in 1333 an English Army was sent to Scotland to place Baliol on the Throne. The men of Galloway still loyal to the Baliols supported him, but after a few months the Barons of Scotland forced Baliol out and restored David II. The Hannays, having supported Baliol, again fell on hard times.

By this time the Hannays were likely in occupation of the Wigtown area and possibly holding Sorbie.

In 1346, King David II, to assist the French after their defeat at the disastrous Battle of Crécy, decided to invade England. He crossed the border of Cumberland at the head of a large army, and advanced towards Durham, laying waste to many places and burning the famous Abbey of Lanercost on the outskirts of Brampton, near Carlisle. He expected an easy march south into England as the English army was away overseas.

Wigtown to Durham, along the Scots-English Border

But Edward III had a plan to deal with just this contingency: in recruiting his army for Crécy, he had deliberately not included men from north of the Humber. William de la Zouche, the Archbishop of York and Warden of the Marches, collected an army and faced David II just outside the walls of Durham at Neville’s Cross. On October 17, 1346, the Scots attacked and were decisively defeated, and King David II and many of his knights taken prisoner to London. There may well have been a Hannay among them on King David’s side—in fact, in the list of prisoners taken at the battle is a David Annand; he may well be a member of the Annandale family, but it is possible that with the free spelling of the period that he might be of Sorbie’s stock. Whoever he was, it was not until 1354 that the English Commissioners agreed to his release, together with Walter de Haliburton and Andrew Campbell, from Carlisle Castle without ransom.

Edward III was not satisfied yet. He sent an army into Scotland under Edward Baliol and Earl Percy in the spring of 1347. Baliol marched into Galloway and ravaged it.

Only eight years later, in 1355, Edward III entered Scotland once more, but the hostility of the people froze him out. He did, however, sack the southern part of the country.

The next Hannays that appear – and there are many in the Scottish records of the period, described as De Hannas, Hannays and A’Hannays – are two churchmen. Fynlaus A’Hanna on May 14, 1390 was granted by Antipope Clement VII[1], at Avignon, a benefice in the gift of the Bishop and Chapter of Whithorn. He is described as “Three years scolar of civil law and a Cannon of Whitherne”. In 1394, Brice A’Hanna, also a priest, was put up in the Bishop of Dunblane’s list for a benefice in the gift of the Abbot and Convent of Paisley. This was granted by Antipope Benedict XIII[2].

An Andrew Hannay of Sorbie is mentioned in 1416, when Archibald, Earl of Wigton, headed the Royal Archers of Scotland to France to fight the English. He remained for many years in the service of the King of France, probably as a member of the Garde Ecossaise, an elite Scottish military unit who were personal bodyguards to the French monarchy, and he likely fought alongside Archibald in the Battle of Baugé in 1421 when the Garde Ecossaise defeated the English. The regiment received precedence above all others in the French Army.

The Battle of Beaugé, 1421

Some years later, we find members of the family in the Scottish Archer Guard of the French army. In 1448 David Lamne (probably Hannay) and James Han are mentioned. When Robert de Conygham was Captain in 1469 in the reign of Louis XI, we find Andro Hannay listed in the Muster roll as an Homme d’Armes. In 1498, Hannay Bar Bancor is mentioned.

Appearing in the Muster rolls of the King of France’s Life Guards are Jehan Hanneste in 1452 and 1453, John Hannesle in 1453, and Andro Waneh in 1471. These are all probably variants of the family name.

[1] Antipope Clement VII, a rival claimant to the Holy See during the Great Schism of the Western Church, held office from 1378-1394.  France, Naples, Scotland and Spain recognized Clement VII (ruling from Avignon, in France), while Bohemia, England, Flanders, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Portugal supported Urban VI (ruling from Rome).

[2] Antipope Benedict XIII ruled from Avignon starting in 1394.

Across Opposite Oceans – Chapter 2

This is an excerpt from a work in progress.  Ren Hanámi Hanna is a member of the Clan Council.  She is an actress and author living in Los Angeles.


When I was a little girl growing up in suburban Huntington Beach, California, I didn’t think much about my family history or what it meant to be descended from two different races. I was taught that I was just American. It wasn’t until after 25 years of being asked, “What are you?” that I started to question, “What is my family history? How was it possible for such different people as my parents, from such different ancestries to come together?”

Looking through documents and photographs left by my parents and research on, I am beginning to uncover the stories of my family heroes. Many missing fibers of my historical tapestry leave it an unfinished weave, and my quest to put together the past continues. This is one small story of the journey to America and finding love told from my parents’ memories, conversations with relatives, letters, research, and my imagination.


Lord Glenelg

27 June 1847

“Will Mother be okay?” I asked my sea weathered father, forty-year-old, John Hanna. The sea had taken its toll on him and turned his usual pale pink complexion, a dull gray.

“I don’t think so, William, but keep that between us. I don’t want to worry your sisters.”

Besides my parents, I had traveled with my brother John, and sisters Matilda, Sarah Jane and Nancy across the Atlantic Ocean from Northern Ireland to Quebec, Canada, crammed into steerage for three months with hundreds, maybe even thousands of other Irish families on the Lord Glenelg. The ship was anything, but regal as its name would suggest. So many people had died on the journey that my brother and I nicknamed it the “coffin ship.” Now we waited in quarantine for at least two weeks in the hospital on the island of Grosse Île. Our eldest sister, Margaret and her husband were expecting their first child, so they stayed in Ireland. Mother was heartbroken she wouldn’t be able to see the birth of her first grandchild.

“We made it this far. Mother has to pull through,” I tried to reassure my father and convince myself. But the reality was that my mother’s condition had worsened in the last few days with a high fever. She hadn’t eaten much since the potato famine forced us to leave our farm in Ulster, which left her weakened and vulnerable to contracting typhus on the ship. I felt weak, but it was a miracle that we weren’t all as sick as Mother.

*          *         *

3 July 1847

The sun seemed to rise slowly this morning as if it was dreading the coming day as much as me. The doctor allowed us to carry our frail mother to a chair by the window.

“Look, mama,” I whispered gently in her ear. “This is Quebec. We’ll make a better life here. You can grow a garden full of roses.”

Sarah Jane stroked her wavy chestnut hair. Nancy dabbed her forehead with father’s handkerchief. John and Matilda held each of her hands, while Father stood next to the window with his eyes closed in silent prayer.

Mother gazed out the dirt smudged window for a few brief moments before gasping in and sputtering out her final six breaths, one for father and five for each of us, her children.

To be continued in chapter 3 (publication date pending).

George Hannay (1631-1695) of Barbados

Excerpted from The Hannays of Sorbie, 4th Edition, available on in paperback or Kindle. All profits from sales go to the Clan Hannay Society.

George Hannay, the son of James Hannay, D.D., was born December 12, 1631. He fought, possibly along with his brother James, with King Charles II in the ill-fated Worcester campaign of 1650 and was taken prisoner by the Commonwealth forces after the battle. He did not receive the death sentence which might reasonably have been expected, but instead was transported as a slave to Barbados. However at the Restoration his fortunes improved and by 1672 he was “Deputy Provost Marshal (head of military police) of the Barbados to a certain Edwyn Steed.”

Barbados, mid-17th Century

In 1673 he is ordered to “search the ships and places in St. Michaels town and seize and deliver the provisions necessary to the Master of the Garland as she is at present retarded for want provisions.”

In 1682 Colonel Edwyn Steed recommended that his appointment of Provost Marshal be transferred to Hannay, whom he described as follows:

“The Marshal is much troubled by his fortune. I can call it by no other name for he is an honest man, who was sold out here as a slave for helping the King at Worcester and is resolved to make a vigorous protest of his position to England though it was a great risk for one who lived so long in a hot climate to expose himself to the extremity of the winter and the expense of the voyage must needs be great.”

The trouble was that Colonel Steed “was so much affected with the Gout that he cannot perform his duties without the help of his deputy that he prays that he may surrender the patent and that it be granted to George Hannay.”

In 1683 George left for England on leave, and on October 31 the Crown Law officers were ordered to prepare a bill constituting him Provost Marshal of the Barbados.

During his absence there was some trouble over the case of Samuel Hanson whom George had arrested in 1682. And as the common jail had been destroyed by the hurricane of 1675, he was forced to confine him in George’s house. This form of custody seems to have been pretty lax for persons of quality. But George seems to have been stricter than most, for when Hanson escaped on November 27, 1682, after giving his parole “the Lords find no blame in Hannay for Hansons escape for Mr. Hannay had refused to let him go and drink with his friends in town whilst in custody.”

Samuel Hanson and an accomplice, Richard Piers, tried to sue George for wrongful imprisonment in 1684, but the King in Council ordered the Attorney General, Sir Robert Sanger, to defend him from “Urgent and vexatious suits” brought against him by these two.

In Hanson’s statement he also appears to have tried to set the Governor Sir Richard Dutton against George for he complains: “That Dutton had ousted George Hannay out of the Clerkship of Bridgetown and put in Rawlins, one of the musicians he brought from England, in his place,” and continues that “no man who can leave the Island will stay while Sir Richard Dutton remains Governor.”

Dutton’s answer was that “he knew nothing of Hannay and the appointment took place a month after Dutton’s arrival, in any case Rawlins was not a ‘common fiddler’ but had been educated in the Law at the Temple.”

In spite of these tribulations, George maintained his position except for a short period, for in 1689 Sir George Eyles and Colonel Kendall petitioned for his continuance in the appointment and on June 11, 1690, the Council agreed to restore him to his appointment.

A curious insight into the West Indies in general, and the position of the aristocracy before the law is shown in a memorandum from George on June 28, 1690, in the case of Sir Thomas Montgomerie:

“Sir Thomas Montgomerie was committed by order of 28th Feb 1690 and delivered to my custody on March 1st having been caught trying to escape in a boat to the French. I gave him three rooms in my house for respect to his dignity and all good usage but such was his strange lewd behaviour that I could not enjoy quiet in my own house and was obliged to keep a guard over him at my own expense, while his behaviour was so bad that the court passed several orders to prohibit him from receiving visitors, news ink or paper. On Governor Kendall’s account he had great hopes of release but has remained to my house until his departure when he refuses to pay my fees whereupon I distrained on his property. On my return he attacked me with a sword. I am ready to release him on payment of my just fees.”

In 1691 he went on leave to England again, and returned the next year. He was now a fairly old man, for in 1694 Lord Willoughby wrote to Sir John Trenchard begging the office of Provost Marshal for Captain Finney as Mr. George Hannay “the present holder is very infirm and aged.” He however seems to have held his post till his death in 1695, when on December 31 a warrant was issued to his son, James Hannay, as Provost Marshal of Barbados.

James took on where his father left off and was at once sued by one Ralph Lane regarding his imprisonment. His petition makes interesting reading:

“Petition to the Council of Trade and Plantations—I omitted to tell you in my last address that after the death of George Hannay I was released from jail and since December 1695 have been living in my own house though under restraint that I am liable upon any humour to be confined again in the common jail. This is such an awe to me that I have not ventured to seek for proofs of the wrongs I have sustained.

“I sent a petition to Governor Russell for copies of papers I required, but no answer was returned and I was told that if I made another attempt to attend you James Hannay will confine me with severity in the loathsome common jail. I am obliged therefore to remove my grievences to royall determination (i.e. London) dated April 29th, 1697.”

In 1701, James is also described as Marshal of the Court of Vice Admiralty, which dealt with the arrest of privateers. In 1709, there is an entry in the State Papers referring to George holding certain appointments. This might be a misprint for James as the appointments appear under James’s name elsewhere. They are the Marshal of Assembly, Marshal of Council of Court of Errors, Marshal of Court of Admiralty and Serjeant at Arms of the Court of Chancery.

There may have been another George as both James and George appear in 1709, together with a George Hays, as executing the office of Marshal of the Admiralty Court. So perhaps George was the younger son also holding a legal benefice due to his late father’s influence.[1]

James subscribed to the Loyal address to Queen Anne on May 18, 1702 when she was proclaimed at Bridgetown:

“We pray your Majesty may preserve the balance of Empire against the overgrowing and exhorbitant power of the French King and all other that shall attempt to disturb the peace thereof of any of your Kingdoms, especially on the score of the supposed Prince of Wales[2] whose pretention we abhor and renounce from the bottom of our hearts being ready to offer up the last drop of our blood and the utmost penny of our fourtunes in defence of yr majesty’s right.”

In 1705, James petitioned and was granted leave for one year by the Queen. On May 10, 1707, the Queen wrote to the Attorney General stating, “you are to prepare a warrent for George Gordon to be Provost Marshal of the Barbadoes and thereby revoking the patent whereby James Hannay was so constituted.”

James thus resigned his post and became a private gentleman. In 1709, James married Elizabeth Price. They had a daughter Elizabeth and a son George. James is described in 1714 in the list of Gentlemen proposed by President Sharpe for vacancies on the Council of Barbados on June 1 as “a worthy gent of good parts improved by a liberal education at Oxford, of great prudence, resolution and integrety and of very good estate.” He appears to have continued to serve on the Council until 1728. In this year he could not serve on the Grand Jury of Session on December 10, but it is stated that he was a “proper person to do so” as he owned a large number of slaves. The seventeen Gentlemen listed as “proper persons” owned 339 slaves between them.

The Provost Marshal General’s second son George may in turn have had a son, also George, for one is recorded as living from 1700 to 1783[3]. He married Jane Thompson and lived in Lunenburg County, Virginia. His son Andrew married Ann Cunningham and died in 1793. Andrew’s son, Captain George Hannah, served in the War of 1812 against the British, and in 1806 married first Betsy Brent by whom he had three children. Later after they had moved to Arkansas, his wife died and he married Lucy Morton and had a further three children. His son, also a Captain in the U.S. Army, George Cunningham Hannah, was born in 1817 and died in 1878.

George Cunningham Hannah

He married Ann Spragins in 1842; they had eleven children. His son Samuel Baldwin also served in the Army, and married, in 1874, Martha Elizabeth Hevener[4]. They had also eleven children, the most notable of whom is the Revd. Samuel Baldwin Hannah, who died in 1959 and was a noted Presbyterian divine in Virginia and also in Arizona.

[1] Stewart Francis, in previous editions of The Hannays of Sorbie, added:

“Supporting this theory, the Reverend James A.M. Hanna [1924-2007] of Oak Hill, Ohio, asserted that the second George was the younger son of George Hannay, the Provost Marshal General”.

The Reverend James, however, in his 1959 work Hanna of Castle Sorbie, Scotland and Descendants, also believed that Provost Marshall George was the son of John Hannay of Sorbie (d. 1640). James wrote that the younger George Hannay (or Hannah as spelled in the Rev. Hanna’s book), the Provost’s son, died in Lunenberg County, Virginia, in 1783. This implies a 143-year gap between the death of George and his grandfather. There is likely either one or more missing generations between Barbados and Virginia or a case of mistaken identity in conflating two different George Hannays. As noted later in this chapter, Stewart Francis believed that the George Hannay in Virginia was the grandson of Provost Marshall George.

[2] James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766), Prince of Wales until his father James II was deposed.  James Francis Edward was known as The Old Pretender and was the father of “Bonnie” Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender.

[3] although as noted later in this chapter, there was a contemporaneous George Hannay (1702-1776) born in the Barbados, who subsequently emigrated to the United Kingdom.

[4] In previous editions, Stewart Francis stated that Samuel’s wife was incorrectly listed as Elizabeth Andrew Stevenson.  This is possibly due to some records being improperly transcribed. For example, one census entry lists Samuel’s wife as “Elizabeth A. Hannah”, and it is plausible that “Hevener” was at one point misheard as “Stevenson”.

Jack Hanna

Jack Hanna

Jack Hanna has been the face of the Columbus Zoo for 42 years, bringing his unflagging energy to the promotion and preservation of his beloved animal world. 

John “Jack” Bushnell Hanna was born January 2nd, 1947, in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.  His great love for animals was fostered growing up on his parent’s farm. His father would joke that he was reluctant to go on vacation, lest he find new, exotic species in his pastures upon return.  At the age of eleven, Jack began volunteering with his family’s veterinarian, Dr Roberts, cleaning cages and observing animal care. 

After graduating with a BA in business and political science from Muskingum College in Concord, Ohio in 1968, Jack and his new bride, Suzi opened a pet store and petting zoo back in his native Knoxville.  A tragic mauling accident in 1972 resulted in the closure of his businesses. Landing on his feet, Jack was recruited by the Knoxville Zoo, learning management from the ground up.

Relocating to Florida, Jack was offered a directorship of the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, in 1973, where he spent two years turning their fortunes around. In 1975, he left his position, citing family concerns. He returned, once again, to Knoxville, to take the helm as Vice President of Stan Brock Wilderness Adventures.   It was during this time, that his daughter, Julie, two, was diagnosed with leukaemia.

 In 1978, Jack, along with 40-50 other contenders, was approached by the Columbus Zoo to join their operation.  At 31, his relative youth was seen by some as a possible drawback, but he won the board over.  Medical treatment for Julie was a fortunate bonus, and after 4 years, she was in remission. 

From 1978 to 1992, Jack was the Director of the Columbus Zoo. During those formative years he transformed it from a simple, tired zoo to the acclaimed zoological park it is today.  He canvassed businesses for funds to replace caged displays with natural habitats, and instituted educational programs to raise awareness of the natural world. Every invitation to speak at schools and public events helped raise the profile of the ever expanding zoo.

In 1983, Jack Hanna, the media star was born.  After the birth of twin baby gorillas, an invitation by Good Morning America introduced him to the nation. This was followed by appearances on Late Night With David Letterman and Larry King Live, as well as countless news/variety shows.

Jack, the tireless showman was responsible for such events as showcasing circus performer, Enrico Wallenda (of the Great Wallendas) transversing a tightrope over a huddle of Bengal Tigers, and turning out a pocket full of cockroaches in a New York hotel lobby.  Being bitten by his animal ambassadors was a running joke.  One appearance with David Letterman resulted in an errant crow flying into the audience, disappearing from view. 

In 1992, now director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, he expanded his reach into television and print media.  From “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” and “Hanna’s Ark” on television to “Jungle Jack – My Wild Life”, and “Monkeys On the Interstate” in print, Jack has left an indelible mark on the animal conservation world. He is also on the board of PIC (Partners In Conservation) whose pet project is protection of Diane Fossey’s beloved mountain gorillas in Rwanda. 

On June 11th, 2020, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium formally announced that after 42 years of enthusiastic and tireless service, Jack Hanna is retiring, as of December 31st, 2020.


  • Barbara A. Schreiber, “Jack Hanna, American Zoologist and Television Personality”, (retrieved 7 November, 2020).
  • “Jack Hanna”,, 19, May, 2016.
  • (retrieved 8 November, 2020).
  • “Jack Hanna”, TFP – TheFamousPeople, (retrieved 8 November, 2020).
  • Foster, Emily, “The Life and Fast Times of Jack Hanna”, Columbus Monthly magazine, November 1985 issue.
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Press Release, 11 June, 2020.

Across Opposite Oceans – Chapter 1

This is an excerpt from a work in progress.  Ren Hanámi Hanna is a member of the Clan Council.  She is an actress and author living in Los Angeles.


When I was a little girl growing up in suburban Huntington Beach, California, I didn’t think much about my family history or what it meant to be descended from two different races. I was taught that I was just American. It wasn’t until after 25 years of being asked, “What are you?” that I started to question, “What is my family history? How was it possible for such different people as my parents, from such different ancestries to come together?”

Looking through documents and photographs left by my parents and research on, I am beginning to uncover the stories of my family heroes. Many missing fibers of my historical tapestry leave it an unfinished weave, and my quest to put together the past continues. This is one small story of the journey to America and finding love told from my parents’ memories, conversations with relatives, letters, research, and my imagination.


SS. Mongolia

October 30, 1912, at the Port of Kobe, Japan, an eighteen-year-old woman from Hiroshima boards a ship called the S.S. Mongolia. She is bound for Honolulu in the U.S. Territory of Hawai’i. The moon is waning on this autumn evening, still full enough to cast a silhouette of the four-foot eleven inch frame of Sekiyo Itaya holding tight to the railing. As the waves crash against the six-hundred foot steam powered ship, Sekiyo felt too nauseous to stay below among the thousand other passengers in steerage accommodations, so she ventured above for air.

“Are you okay, Miss?” asks a tall, American steward.

Sekiyo bows, not understanding his words. Her hands quiver as she removes her passport tucked inside her kimono and hands it to him. She is eighteen years old, traveling alone for almost a month to a place she has never been to marry a man she’s never met.

The steward squints. “Well, I can’t read these symbols.” He is looking at the side written in Japanese.

Sekiyo gestures for him to turn it over. He reads the handwritten English side of the passport.

“Ah, Japanese. Sekiyo Nakano, wife of Yujiro Nakano. You’re going to Hawai’i to meet your husband?”

Sekiyo understands, “Husband, yes.” She bows again.

The steward hands her passport back.

“You do look a little peaked. Probably seasick. You can stay for a little bit, but then you best skedaddle below.” He points in the direction back to steerage.

Sekiyo bows several times, grateful not be in trouble and hoping not to vomit from sea sickness, as the young man leaves her.

1912 was the last year of the Meiji Period since the death of Emperor Meiji on July 30, and the Taisho Period began upon the accession of Meiji The Good’s son, Emperor Taisho.

Sekiyo and her family witnessed the transformation of Japan from a feudal, isolationist nation into an industrialized world power, and now the steam ship makes it possible to travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean to the new world. Although Hawai’i was not yet a state, it was a territory of the United States, the “Land of Opportunity.”


The Itayas were a poor farming family and it was customary for Japanese families to arrange the marriages of their children in hopes of improving their lives. Even though it must have been frightening for young Sekiyo, this was her chance for a better life for herself and future children.

To be continued in chapter 2 (publishing date pending).

Rob and Mary Hanna

Rob and Mary Hanna are luminaries of the equestrian world.

Rob Hanna was for many years the manager (chef d’équipe) of the Australian national equestrian team. Rob is himself a former competitive rider, but his wife Mary is a world-class athlete.

Mary Sutherland Hanna competed in five Olympic Games, most recently in 2016. Born in Melbourne in 1954, Mary started riding horses when she was two years old, and she’s still riding competitively! Currently ranked 86th in the world (as of 2020) in dressage, she likely has the longest ongoing career of any Australian equestrian (as well as being Australia’s oldest competing Olympian). In 2018, she was inducted into the Equestrian Victoria Hall of Fame.

Mary’s Olympic Games and ranking

  • 2016: 9th (team), 39th (individual)
  • 2012: 9th (team), 43rd (individual)
  • 2004: 39th (individual)
  • 2000: 6th (team), 34th (individual)
  • 1996: 24th (individual)

Up until 2020, Rob and Mary ran a breeding and training center in Victoria, Australia. They recently sold the 60 acre property to be closer to family.


Rob and Mary Hanna (photo: Alan Barber)


  • Fédération Equestre Internationale website, Mary Hanna member page (retrieved 27 Oct, 2020)
  • Australian Olympic Team website, Mary Hanna page (retrieved 27 Oct, 2020)
  • Rudall, Jenny, “Australian teams selected for Olympics”, article from Horse and Country News, 20 June, 2012
  • Statene Park Dressage Centre “About Us” page (retrieved 27 Oct, 2020)
  • Mayne, Nicole, “Melbourne buyers beat overseas interest to purchase Olympian Mary Hanna’s Bellarine property”, Geelong Advertiser, 4 Mar, 2020

Robert Silver Hannay, D-Day Veteran, US Navy

Many young men volunteered for service in the Second World War. One such was Robert Hannay from Salem, Ohio, USA. He was born on July 14, 1926, the son of Frank and Helen Louise (Silver) Hannay. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 as a Seaman 1st Class at the young age of 17 to serve his country as America responded to the twin threats of the Nazis and Imperial Japan during World War 2. He went through basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago and then on to a Brooklyn Navy base where he was assigned to a landing craft as a gunner on a Higgins Tank Carrier landing craft that was outfitted near New York. He was transferred to England via Nova Scotia with his craft, LST-281. The craft was capable of landing a sizeable number of men, their equipment and tanks to shore without the need for a harbour in an amphibious landing. His first substantive action was on D Day, June 6th 1944, at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, where he acted as a loader to the 200mm gun beside his partner, the shooter. After the beach was secured, tanks were unloaded. Hannay stayed on the craft as a gunner watching history and carnage unfolding in front of his eyes as an 18 year-old. He later remarked that the Hollywood movie, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was the best movie ever made and very accurate to what happened that day.

After the Normandy landings he was transferred to the Mediterranean and took part in the amphibious landing at Corsica off the coast of France along with the subsequent invasion of southern France. During that assault his boat was beached by a retreating tide and it became a sitting duck to the Nazis. The crew put up a dirigible balloon to deter air attacks but that invited incoming 88mm shells. He recalled one such shell going by so close that he could feel the breeze from it as it whistled past. They were fortunate not to be hit and the captain let the balloon loose so that allied air planes spotted them and took out the German gun.

Hannay and his crew were then transferred to the Pacific theatre of the war and were part of the American Army’s island hopping towards Japan. During the Okinawa landings his craft went in behind a smoke screen but was spotted by a kamikaze aircraft coming straight at them. Their guns were not big enough to take it out, but fortunately a nearby destroyer downed the plane before it hit their landing craft.

Hannay served two years and three months in the US Navy in total before being discharged after the war. He receiving the American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with two Bronze Campaign Stars for Normandy and Southern France, Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal with one Bronze Campaign Star for the Okinawa Invasion, the Philippines Liberation Medal, WWII Victory Medal and subsequently in 2016 he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour that was bestowed by France to all surviving D Day Veterans.

He returned home to Ohio after the war, completed his education, got several jobs in the automotive industry culminating in his working for General Motors in Lordstown as an assembler for 25 years, retiring in 1991. He married Mildred “Millie” Grace Smith on September 4th, 1948 and had two daughters, Shirley and Sharon. He loved to do woodworking during his retirement and golfing at the Salem Hills Golf Course. His wife, Millie preceded him in death on October 31st, 2016 and he died quietly on the 27th January 2019 in Ohio aged 92 years. He leaves behind four grandchildren and three great grandchildren as well as his daughters. He is one of the last of the brave men who fought for freedom and liberty from tyranny in World War 2.