History Corner: Marianne Hanney

Marianne Hanney was best known in the Catholic Deaf Community for her love, faith, and care for 50 years as a Deaf Teacher of the Catholic School for Deaf Children in Newcastle (Waratah) NSW. She was born in Paddington, Sydney on 1 August 1869, her Irish parents being John Hanney and Ellen Kelly. She had one brother, James and one sister, Julie (who died young).
When Marianne was three years old, her father died in 1872. In 1875 she was admitted to the Catholic Orphanage at Parramatta. When she was about seven years old, she became ill with scarlet fever, and on her recovery, it was discovered that the illness had left her completely deaf.
In 1879 Marianne was sent to the Catholic Institution for Deaf and Dumb (later known as School for Deaf Girls at Rosary Convent, Waratah) in Newcastle, NSW. She had the good fortune to be educated by Sister Mary Gabriel (Ellen Hogan) who was Deaf herself and studied History, Geography, Mathematics, English, Needlework, Handwriting and Catechism.

After leaving school, Marianne was trained as a teacher. She became a teacher of the Deaf in 1886 and worked until 1936. Due to the fact that the gift of her deafness gave her sensitivity to the minds of her students, she was considered the best staff member to be responsible for deaf children’s religious instructions. She celebrated her golden jubilee as a teacher of the Deaf. During those 50 years, she left the mark of her influence on many of her pupils with whom she helped mould their lives. She was loved, appreciated, respected and revered.

For over 60 years Marianne knew no other home than Waratah. During her holiday time, she visited many of her former students all over Australia. She would sit down and listen to them while they poured out their hearts to her. She was their lifeline, their role model, and their big sister. Whilst she had many opportunities to see many places in Australia, she still called the Rosary Convent her ‘Home’.

On 14 September 1939, while on a visit to Sydney, Marianne Hanney died at the residence of her deaf friends, Michael and Mary Carmody, at the age of 70 years. She was buried in Sandgate cemetery in Newcastle. She was buried in the Dominican Habit, being a member of the Dominican Third Order (did not become a Dominican Sister herself). Her 50 years of work with the School for Deaf Girls at Rosary Convent, Waratah was recognised and well respected.

Sources: Australian Adult Catholic Deaf and Dumb magazine ‘Past and Present’, ‘History of Catholic Deaf Education in Australia 1875-1975’ book and ‘Open Minds Open Hearts’ book

Author: ephpheta

Community Liaison Officer for Ephpheta Centre www.ephpheta.org.au

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