Des Hanafin

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Desmond A. "Des" Hanafin (born 1930) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil politician. He was a member of Seanad Éireann for over 30 years.

Personal life[edit]

Des Hanafin was born in Thurles, County Tipperary in 1930, to John "Johnny" Hanafin (b. 1890, d. 1953), a draper and newsagent who served for many years as a Fianna Fáil councillor for North Tipperary County Council and prior to that had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and an elected Sinn Féin councillor before independence.[1][2]

He married, Mona Brady, daughter of J.P. Brady, on 28 August 1958 in Clonmel, Tipperary.[3] The wedding was followed by a reception at the Galtee Hotel, Cahir which was attended by various notables including Rev. Father J.J. Hampson, President of Blackrock College.[4] Their first child, Mary Hanafin, was born in June 1959, followed by John Hanafin in September 1960.

Des Hanafin operated the Anner Hotel in Thurles during the 1960s, while initially successful,[5] the business failed in 1967.[6] Mary Hanafin later blamed the failure on her father's excess drinking.[7]

Later on Hanafin was a director of the Transinternational Oil Company.

Political career[edit]

Des Hanafin's first attempt to become elected to public office proved unsuccessful. In 1953, Hanafin sought to be co-opted to fill the vacancy on North Tippeary County Council created by the death of his father, John Hanafin. In the event councillors co-opted a Labour Party nominee, Michael Treacy, by eleven votes to seven.[8]

He was elected a member of North Tipperary County Council in 1955, polling 934 first preference votes.[9] He was subsequently elected Chairman of the County Council in 1956 with the support of Clann na Poblachta representatives.[10]

In 1957, he conducted a three month tour of the United States, during which he was commissioned a Kentucky colonel, by then Kentucky Governor Albert "Happy" Chandler. He was also awarded the freedom of Louisville, Kentucky and received by Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago.[11]

Hanafin was re-elected to North Tipperary County Council in 1960, polling 797 first preference votes.[12] In 1961, he voted against the Fianna Fail nominee for Chair of the County Council, Thomas F. Meagher and in favour of the Clann na Poblachta nominee, Michael F. Cronin, who was elected by 10 votes to 9.[13] In 1964, he controversially voted in favour of Jeremiah Mockler, "a former school mate", who was elected by 10 votes to 9 to the office of Rate Collector for Borrisokane.[14]

He held the seat until 1985. He was first elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and retained his seat until the 1993 Seanad Elections at which he lost his seat by one vote. He regained his seat at the 1997 Elections and retired from politics in 2002. He unsuccessfully contested the Dáil elections of 1977 and 1981. He was a chief fundraiser of the Fianna Fáil party for many years.

An opponent of social change in Ireland, Hanafin was one of the promoters of the constitutional amendment that enshrined the legal ban on abortion in the Constitution of Ireland. He also opposed the legalisation of divorce, which was introduced in 1995.


Since retiring from the Seanad in 2002, Hanafin as occasionally made interventions concerning social issues. In May 2015, he accused equality campaigners in the Marriage referendum of spreading a "palpable climate of fear".[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview with Des and Mary Hanafin, Miriam Meets, 18 April 2010.
  2. ^ "John Hanafin MCC". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 25 July 1953; Page: 5. 
  3. ^ "People and Places". Irish Press, Tuesday, 19 August 1958; Page: 6. 
  4. ^ "Clonmel Commentary". Munster Express, Friday, 5 September 1958; Page: 3. 
  5. ^ "Desies Ballad Sessions". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 5 December 1964; Page: 4. 
  6. ^ "Notice to Creditors". Irish Press, Thursday, 8 June 1967; Page: 16. 
  7. ^ "Hanafin tells of father's drinking". Irish Independent. 
  8. ^ "Labour Candidate Co-Opted To Tipperary Council". Irish Examiner, Saturday, 21 November 1953; Page: 8. 
  9. ^ "The Coming Elections - Parties Select Candidates". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 14 May 1960; Page: 6. 
  10. ^ "Surprise in Election of Chairman, Desmond Hanafin Elected on Vote". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 7 July 1956; Section: Front page, Page: 1. 
  11. ^ "Commissioned as Kentucky Colonel". Irish Examiner, Monday, 10 February 1958; Page: 4. 
  12. ^ "Full Returns in County Council Elections". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 9 July 1960; Page 4. 
  13. ^ "Close Vote for County Council Chairmanship". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 1 July 1961; Page 1. 
  14. ^ "Councillor's Dilemma In Local Appointment". Nenagh Guardian, Saturday, 22 August 1964; Page: 9. 
  15. ^ "Yes camp has spread 'palpable climate of fear' says Hanafin". Irish Independent. 

External links[edit]