Ladies and Gentlemen,
Center Ring - The Irish Circus
by Brian Witt
July brings the return of the Great Circus Parade to downtown Milwaukee
during the second weekend of each July. The elegant and splendorous circus
wagons travel across Wisconsin on a special train from Baraboo to downtown
Milwaukee. After a stay at Milwaukee's lakefront, the parade of horse-drawn
wagons, circus animals, clowns and other acts circle the downtown in the
largest circus parade in the world.
One of the band tableau wagons is from the Royal Hanneford Grand
Circus, and is the last remaining wagon from this long-ago Irish circus.
The wagon is painted a deep green, and is gilded with gold paint. The woodwork
has been repaired and replaced.
The history of the circus in Ireland goes back very far. The story
"Tain Bo Cuailnge" describes the fifth century Irish hero Cuchulainn
juggling nine apples. A few centuries later Tulchinne, the royal buffoon
of king Conaire, is described in "The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel,"
as juggling nine swords, nine silver shields, and nine balls of gold
Ireland had been the home of a number of circuses, and is still home
for a few. Duffy's Circus, Fossett's Circus, Circus Vegas, Dare Devil Circus,
and Gerbola's Circus are among the many old-line circuses that are still
in operation in Ireland. A few newer acts have sprung up in recent years,
mainly with young people who developed an interest in tumbling, juggling
and other skills. Families carry on the acts, if not always the names,
and you can trace familial lineage back through the sawdust through the
However, the history of the Irish circus starts with the emigration
of an Irishman, Michael Hanneford, to England, where he entertained with
his juggling, horsemanship and similar acts, in 1690. Hanneford toured
with Wombwell's Menagerie, the first show of its kind in the British Isles.
Michael's grandson, Edwin Hanneford, was a foot juggler who performed on
London street corners and at fairs. Among the honors bestowed on Edwin
was a summons to perform before King George III in 1778, in a contest to
determine who was the best juggler in England. Having become preoccupied
with other matters during the competition between Edwin and Walter Scott,
the King never delivered a verdict.
The Hanneford family first toured as a troupe in 1807. All successive
generations of Hannefords performed in some capacity, and by 1903, the
family had its own show, the Hanneford Royal Canadian Circus, and was touring
the British Isles by horse drawn wagon and performing under canvas. It
was from this circus that the Band Tableau wagon came.
During the winters of these early seasons, they would appear with
other featured acts at indoor shows on the European continent. While performing
in Spain in 1915, the Hannefords were seen by John Ringling, who purchased
the entire operation, and moved it to the United States, ending the direct
connection of the show to Ireland. The show at the time included family
members George, Sr. and Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford. George's son,
Tommy, and other members of his family performed the first Hanneford Circus
in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1965, a title incorporated in Macon, Georgia.
After that, Tommy began to solicit fairs to showcase the new show and performed
the Circus' first major fair in Saginaw, Michigan in September of 1966.
This is considered to be the first performance of the modern Royal Hanneford
In the 1890s, the scenes he witnessed at a traveling circus intrigued
Irish artist Jack Yeats. Duffy's Circus, a watercolor, shows the clowns
and the background action near the center ring. Yeats painted a series
centered around this circus, as the clowns, equestrian acts and other acts
For the past three centuries Duffy's Circus has been amazing audiences
throughout Ireland. A Dublin shoemaker, Patrick James Duffy developed a
love for foreign circuses visiting Ireland. After learning various circus
skills he became a famous acrobat and his son John started his own circus,
the John Duffy Circus. John had three sons, John, Tom and James. It was
from James that Duffy's Circus developed into what it is today. By the
1870s the Duffy family had an extremely large circus with upward of 250
Throughout the years the circus has had many names with the changing
of generations, the Duffy Family Circus and Duffy's National Circus, but
has always used the Duffy name. In 1917 James operated a circus with his
sister, the Duffy and McClean's Circus, for a few years before the James
Duffy & Sons Circus was born. James died in 1959 and the circus continued
to be operated by his wife Lena and sons Jimmy, Johnny, Billy, Tom, Arthur,
Freddy and Albert and daughter Lena. In 1971 Lena died, and the circus
was carried on by her sons as the Duffy Brothers Circus.
By 1979, another generation of Duffys had been groomed for the ring.
Theirs was an extremely large family, so Tom and son David decided to branch
out with their own circus. In 1982 the Duffy Brothers Circus ceased and
Tom Duffy's Circus has been carrying on the Duffy name ever since. Over
the last 23 years Tom Duffy's Circus has grown into one of Europe's finest
and most respected circuses.
So, as horses are hitched to the wagons, the clowns and the bands
readied, raise a loud cheer when the Irish circus wagon passes by. It is
part of a long Irish connection to the smell of grease paint, and the roar
of the crowd.
AUGUST 19: Club Picnic
SEPTEMBER 16: September Meeting
There will be no meeting in July or August. Our Annual Club Picnic
will be held at Sweet-Alyn Park in Shoppiere on Aug. 19. It will start
at 5 p.m. This will be a pot luck. Bring your own table ware and beverage
plus a dish to pass. We will eat at 6 p.m. There is a pavilion so we can
have it rain or shine. See you there.
Dane County Shamrock Club, Inc.
A group of members present at the May Dane County Shamrock Club
Meeting included: (l to r) back row, Tom and Judi Barrington, John Gallagher,
Colleen Schams, Margaret Rupert and Donna Douglas. Front row: Paul Buckalew,
Dave Holtz, and Bob Kerans.
JULY 8: Shamrock Club Summer Picnic at the KCs clubhouse on Verona
Rd., Madison; social hour at 5:30; dinner at 6; entertainment to follow.
At the May meeting new officers were elected: President Bob Kerans;
Vice President Margaret Rupert; Past President Paul Buckalew; Secretary
and Editor of the Newsletter Pat McCarthy; Associate Writer Sue Morrison;
Treasurer Harry McCarthy; Membership Chair Colleen Schams; Trustees Megan
Sisson and Pearl Kau (Senior Trustee), Parliamentarian Alice De Marb and
Sergeant-at-Arms Cheryl Sullivan. You can meet the new officers at the
July picnic. The co-presidents, Paul and Colleen, have been instrumental
in the transitional process for the new officers.
Something new for our Club is giving half-price membership to those
who join after June. All memberships are renewed once a year in December
for the following year at full price. As a result of this new procedure,
we have the financial resources in hand that help us to plan events for
the coming year. Plus, we now have a monthly newsletter that enables the
officers and members to know what is happening in the Club.
The Shamrock Club State Advisory Meeting in LaCrosse in May was an
exchange of many good ideas. We find these quarterly meetings refreshing
and beneficial to our Club. The next state meeting is going to be at Milwaukee
Irish Fest in August. The August entry of this column for Emerald Reflections
will be by the new officers.
A special thanks to Gail Coss for her help to Paul Buckalew and Colleen
Schams - co-presidents - during the past two years. Brian Witt, the editor of the Reflections, was also a help to us during our strenuous times at the start of our terms.
A heartfelt thanks also to all our friends and members of the Dane
County Shamrock Club. Over the past two years, the Club gained in members,
affiliated with the Madison St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee, and increased
the quality of entertainment at the Club's events.
To wish you the luck o' the Irish, begorra!
Not just for today, but for every tomorra!!
- Co-presidents: Paul Buckalew and Colleen Schams
Milwaukee President's Message
Ladies and gentlemen,
Shamrock Club members all,
The 4th of July is right around the corner and you can watch your
Shamrock Club Color Guard Pipes and Drums marching to represent us in Menomonee
Falls, Glendale or Brown Deer. Come see us celebrating our Nation's birthday.
The July meeting has been scheduled for the Tenth, our meeting will
be held in the air-conditioned upstairs hall and will also feature the
installation of our club's new officers and directors. Come congratulate
our new board with a wonderful dinner and just a wee bit of pomp and circumstance.
Stay around and discover plans for an even more special year for the Shamrock
Club, and thank those volunteers who have served us so well during the
Remember... you too can become more active and have a definitive
voice when you volunteer for any one of the many annual events that our
Shamrock Club participates in throughout the year. Just call any of your
club's officers or directors. Good opportunities are still available for
Irish Fest, the Picnic, the Color Guard Pipes and Drums, Folk Fair, our
Honoree Dinner, and the Bradley Center.
The June meeting saw several changes in the Club's Bylaws and re-publication
will be taking place soon. Copies will be made available at our August
The picnic will be an even larger event than last year. New entertainment,
new games, new food choices, same free beer, and the best time of the summer
before Irish Fest.
Installation Dinner, Picnic, Irish Fest... what a wonderful summer
we can share with each other and celebrate.
Milwaukee Annual Installation Dinner
Thursday July 10, 2003
ICHC 2133 West Wisconsin Avenue
Upstairs Air Conditioned Hall
Dinner 6:30 p.m. Installation 8 p.m.
This year's event will be a buffet dinner Free Beer Cash Bar
Cost $12 per person
Call: Jim Dickmann (262) 377-2601
Reservation Deadline: July 2, 2003
2003 Shamrock Club Installation Dinner Reservation Form
Acrobat Reader is required to view and print golf registration form)
A Request For Your Stories
A while ago, I asked for people to proffer up tales of travel to
Ireland. Matt Larsen recounted Chad and Kim's wedding. Richard Scanlan
told of finding a fity year old coin at his family farm and wondered if
his parents had dropped it. Well, again, I am asking for tales of travel
to the Emerald Isle. They will be published in a future edition of Emerald
Reflections. Short, about 150 words, to long, 750, or that of the front
page, would be wonderful. It also allows me not to have to research and
write for a month. (Have you ever heard the term "writer's block"?)
As I wrote the last time, "A trip to Ireland for many of us
has been a source of stories that we have recounted over and over. The
land, the people, and the trip itself will often replay in our memories.
Ireland always leaves us with stories. It seems to be part and parcel of
the journey. Sometimes, they are long yarns. Other times, they are just
short vignettes." If you have a story inside you that is causing you
to almost burst, share it. Others love to hear them. And you can point
to the place on the internet where you are published. That, and grab a
handful of Reflections after the article is printed.
Richard and Matt's sagas are retold at www.angelfire.com/wi/shamrockclubwisc/page138.html
If you want to share your tale, or tales, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or mail them to Brian Witt, Shamrock Club, 2133 West Wisconsin Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53233. Or drop them in my mailbox at the ICHC.
Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Annual Family Best Ball Golf
and Dinner Outing
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Edgewater Golf Club, Grafton
(I-43 north to Hwy 60, west 1.7 miles to 12th Avenue,
right 1.4 miles to Cedar Creek Road, left to coarse)
Individual Awards - for longest Drive, Longest Putt, and
Closest to the Pin - for MEN AND WOMEN!
(One Individual winner per award)
Door Prizes, "Money Hole" and Putting Contest
Golf will begin at 1 p.m.
Cocktail Hour: 4:30-5:30 / Buffet Dinner: 5:30-7:00 /
AWARDS to be presented during dinner.
2003 Shamrock Club Golf Outing Registration Form
Acrobat Reader is required to view and print golf registration form)
Milwaukee Shamrock Club Picnic
Live at the Lake Front
Lake Park: Picnic Area #6
AUGUST 10, 2003 NOON til 6 p.m.
(Lincoln Memorial Drive at Kenwood Avenue - Milwaukee)
Free Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite
Free Refreshments Free Soda Free Entertainment
Free Guinness Starting at 3 p.m. Free Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Irish DanceExhibitions Join in sessions with local musicians
Games for kids from 1 to 93 years old
Free Shuttle to Milwaukee Hurling Games at McKinley Marina
For Information call: (414) 358-0408
Color Guard News and Notes
"With Pride and Honor"
The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Color Guard, Pipes and
Drums will now begin to embark upon their most challenging section of the
2003 parade schedule.
After participating in return performances in the Highland Games,
held June 7 in Milwaukee and the Waubeka Flag Day parade in Waubeka on
June 8, the Unit will be making six parade appearances during the month
of July. On July 3 at 7 p.m. you can see the group at the Menomonee Falls
4th of July Parade, the 4th of July, parades in Glendale at 10:30 a.m.
and Brown Deer at 1:30 p.m. have been confirmed. July 12, South Shore Water
Frolics Parade at 11 a.m. is next up on the schedule and the Color Guard
Pipes and Drums will conclude their July performances with parades at the
South Milwaukee Heritage Days on July 26 at 11 a.m. and July 27 at the
Dousman Derby Days parade beginning at 11 a.m. We hope you will come out
and support your Color Guard, Pipes and Drums!
JULY 3: Menomonee Falls 4th of July Parade, 7 p.m. (Thurs.)
JULY 4: Glendale 4th of July Parade, 10:30 a.m. (Fri.)
JULY 4: Brown Deer 4th of July Parade, 1:30 p.m. (Fri.)
JULY 12: South Shore Water Frolics Parade, 11 a.m. (Sat.)
JULY 26: South Milwaukee Heritage Days Parade 11 a.m. (Sat.)
JULY 27: Dousman Derby Days Parade, 11 a.m. (Sun.)
AUG. 2: Sheboygan Brat Festival, tentative, TBA (Sat.)
AUG. 15: Milw. Irish Fest, 7 p.m. (Fri.)
AUG. 16: Milw. Irish Fest, 4 p.m. (Sat.)
AUG. 17: Milw. Irish Fest, Mass 9 a.m., Parade 4 p.m. (Sun.)
AUG. 24: Muskego Fest, 11 a.m. (Sun.)
AUG. 30: St. Francis Days, 11 a.m. (Sat.)
SEPT. 1: Janesville Labor Day Parade, 1 p.m., (Mon.)
Please come to the performances! Your support of your Color Guard,
Pipes and Drums is not only invaluable, it means a lot!
Would you like to share and experience the "Pride and Honor"
of representing your Irish Heritage and membership in the Shamrock Club
of Wisconsin? Well... you can! As a banner carrier, Color Guard member,
bagpiper or drummer. Are you interested in having the Shamrock Club of
Wisconsin Color Guard, Pipes and Drums perform in your community's parade
/ festival / event or at a special family gathering? You can! Please contact
for further information :
Richard Pfeifer, Director
Color Guard, Pipes and Drums
Telephone: (414) 769-1250
Book Project Seeks
Milwaukee Irish Photos
Photographs of Irish in Milwaukee are being sought for a collaborative
book project between The Irish American Post and Arcadia Publishing of
Charleston, S.C. All sorts of photos are requested for use in Irish Milwaukee,
as part of Arcadia's Images of America series. Images taken at weddings,
family gatherings, fancy balls, baptisms, First Communions, parades, businesses,
military services, politics, churches, schools, songfests, pubs and any
other photographs with an Irish-theme or personality are being requested,
said Martin Hintz, publisher of The Irish American Post. "We are looking
for very old photos, from as far back as we can into Milwaukee's history,
in addition to more contemporary pictures," he said.
Hopefully, people in the pictures will be identified, Hintz indicated.
All photos used will be credited to the families submitting them. Approximately
180 prints will be used.
Submissions can be sent by mail to The Irish American Post, 301 N.
Water St., Milwaukee, Wis. 53202 or by e-mail scans in large format jpegs
to email@example.com. For more information, call (414) 273-8132.
All pictures will be returned. A deadline of June 20 is requested for submitting
pictures. Publication is set for this autumn.
A story on Arcadia's Irish Chicago by author John McLaughlin can
be seen in the March, 2003, issue of The Post (www.irishamericanpost.com).
St. Patrick's Help Fund
St. Patrick's Help Fund needs all kinds of non-perishable foods,
pampers, men's clothes (especially men's trousers), wind breakers, crayons
and paint books. St. Patrick's food pantry is empty. They really need non-perishable
foods. Please place in container at each meeting. However, donations can
be brought to the ICHC any time during the week. It is not restricted to
just meetings. A big thank you to everybody who has contributed to help
the needy people at St. Patrick's. Questions? Call Katy Voss (414) 352-6479.
NOTE: Please send your dues to your Membership Chairperson in your
chapter. All names and addresses are listed in Emerald Reflections.
MILWAUKEE - Steve and Anne Bode.
Membership Report Milwaukee Chapter:
April: 49 memberships up for renewal, 39 paid, 10 dropped for nonpayment.
May: 36 memberships up for renewal, 26 paid, 10 due.
June: 32 memberships up for renewal, 4 paid, 28 due.
WISCONSIN FOOTBALL: Please let me know soon so I can start a list
of people who would be going to Wisconsin's game against either Ohio State
Oct. 11 or Purdue Oct. 18 which is Wisconsin's Homecoming game.
- Tom Smith
1107 S. 26th St., Milw., WI 53204