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William F. and Michael C. Hanafin Family Papers

Collection IM-M143-2005: William F. and Michael C. Hanafin Family Papers


  • Creation: circa 1900-1990
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900 - 1940

Scope and Contents

These papers document the musical careers of brothers William F. and Michael C. Hanafin, Irish traditional musicians who immigrated to Boston in the late 19th century. The collection contains materials from the two brothers and their family members. They include articles; audio recordings of the Hanafins and their musical associates; correspondence; a fife; photographs; and sheet music.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research. Audio recordings have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room.

Copyright restrictions

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original creators may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

William F. Hanafin (1875-1924) and his brother Michael C. Hanafin (1880-1970) were born in Callinfercy, County Kerry, Ireland. The farmhouse of their parents, Bessie and Cornelius Hanafin, was a regular gathering spot for Irish traditional dancers and musicians. Both brothers became musicians, with William specializing in fiddle and uilleann pipes and Michael in fiddle and step-dancing.

The Hanafin brothers immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in the late 19th century, where they became celebrated performers within Irish traditional music circles. Their mentors and colleagues included Daniel Sullivan, Patsy Touhey, and Daniel Moroney. The Hanafins wrote and recorded their own music, and Michael won a gold medal for step-dancing. Michael's son Cornelius M. "Connie" Hanafin (1903-1985), an accordion player, performed along with his father and eventually became a highly respected bandleader. William’s son William Francis “Bill” Hanafin (1904-) was also active in Irish music circles in Boston. And William’s nephew by his brother Cornelius J. Hanafin (1877-1972), William F. “Billy” Hanafin (1916-1996), a Boston police officer, was also a fiddle player.

The Boston branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (Irish Musicians Association) is named the "Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch" as a tribute to Michael Hanafin, and a memorial to the Hanafin Brothers was unveiled in Milltown, County Kerry in August of 2003 by CCÉ.


Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann - Boston. "CCE Northeast Regional Hall of Fame Inductees Michael C. Hanafin and William Hanafin." Accessed December 16, 2013.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

O'Neill, Francis. Irish Minstrels and Musicians. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1913.


4.75 Linear Feet (7 containers)

11 Gigabytes (15 files with approximately 5.75 hours of audio)

Language of Materials



This collection contains photographs, articles, recordings, a fife, printed music, correspondence, and other items pertaining to brothers William F. and Michael C. Hanafin, their family members, and musical associates. The Hanafin brothers were Irish traditional musicians who immigrated to Boston in the late 19th century.


The collection is arranged in five series: I. Artifacts; II. Audio recordings; III. Photographs; IV. Printed materials; V. Written materials.

Custodial History

Thomas M. Hanafin, grandson of Michael C. Hanafin, gathered these materials from Michael C., William F., and their family members.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas M. Hanafin, 2005.

Existence and Location of Copies

More information on duplicate recordings between Hanafin family papers and the Dan Sullivan band recordings in the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann North America collection of Irish music materials is available upon request. Attention staff: this document is associated with IMC M143 2005 1 IM.

Related Materials

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann North America collection of Irish music materials, IMC.M104, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

Published phonograph discs associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Processing Information

Many recordings on audio cassette originally associated with this collection were determined to be duplicates or dubs of readily avialable published materials during media migration. These cassettes have been deaccessioned, leaving some gaps in media numbering.

William F. and Michael C. Hanafin Family Papers
circa 1900-1990 (bulk 1900-1940)
Elizabeth Sweeney and John Kearney
February, 2017
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023 January 6: Audio recordings fully migrated from media, published recordings transferred to Burns cataloging, and duplicate recordings removed.

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States