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 hanneford in Ireland
This rare photograph shows the Hanneford Circus in Strabane, Ireland in the late 1800's.

     The Hanneford family roots are deeply imbedded in the circus and show business world and are one of the oldest circus families still performing regularly. Dating back to at least the 17th century, a Hanneford has been involved in entertaining somebody somewhere - often for royalty or high ranking members of society. Because of the nature of the entertainment business (constantly moving from one town to the next) they often married other performers, creating stronger ties to the fickle world of the showman and, incidentally, imbuing their children with the bug.
     As anyone born into a family involved in a particular profession can tell you, when you are a child your whole world revolves around that profession. Every facet of that business is your daily diet from the time you can walk. Even if, as you grow older, you decide you want no part of it you can never quite escape it. This is especially true of a child of a traveling entertainer. You most likely can walk on your hands before you can walk on your feet! You're juggling balls and clubs long before you learn about juggling your finances. There's every chance that you'll have worked in front of an audience before you're five. So it's not surprising that, with so many generations of entertainers behind them, virtually every member of the current Hanneford family is, or has been, an entertainer. In fact, the Hannefords are ranked among the top ten circus families in the world. They are extremely proud of their family history, tradition, and accomplishments, and, in this section of the Hanneford Family Circus web site, we are going to tell their fascinating, and colorful, story. 
     Also, because this site is about circuses, we have included a short history of the early circus through the 19th century. There are other sites on the web that deal with the history of the circus in general so we are not attempting to be as thorough as they, but to give you, the circus scholar, some background on this most fascinating, but little known, piece of human endeavor. The circus was, is, and ever will be the last completely family oriented form of live entertainment that everyone can enjoy.