Canon Edward Joseph Hannan


Cannon Edward Jospeph Hannan was the founding father of Hibernian Fooball Club, Leith, Edinburgh.The club was formed from St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in the Old Town in Edinburgh and the Catholic Young Men’s Society, where a seminal and historic planning meeting took place.

A bust commemorating Cannon Hannan resides inside the front doors of St. Patrick’s in the Cowgate. Canon Edward Joseph Hannan was born in Ballingarry, County Limerick, Ireland on 21 June 1836.

(Image: Scottish Catholic Archive)

The Cowgate in those days was widely known as ‘Little Ireland’ due to the many impoverished refugees from the Irish famine living there. Reports of more than thirty souls living ito a room with no sanitation give a sobering glimpse into the hard-bitten and impoverished history of the area.

St Patrick’s Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh, (Image: Runciman APSE Trust)

The Hibernians were conceived of by the kindly Canon and his co-founder, Michael Whelehan as a benevolent and charitable organisation in 1875, giving support to the poor and disadvantaged of the community. Tyically, the Hibs would play benefit games for those of the parish who were struggling such as widows with children to feed. A central reason for the formation of the football club was to help keep young Irish, Roman Catholic men of Little Ireland on the straight and narrow. Attendance at Mass was a prerequisite for membership and sobriety another, to play for the Hibernians. This gave rise to claims of Hibs being the first sectarian club in Scotland, which arguably might be said to be wilfully ignoring the sound and humanitarian principles on which the club was formed.

The club name, Hibernian, was derived from the ancient Roman word for Ireland, ‘Hibernia’. The club jerseys still commemorate Hibernian’s Irish origins with an Irish harp as part of the club crest, once again returning to the club’s humble beginnings.

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