Other branches of the clan: Cronan, Cronyn, Cronine, Croneen and Croning
Irish Clan Name: Ó Cronín
The name Cronin is derived from the word Cron, meaning saffron coloured. Cronin is the name of a family of Croca Laoidhe in West Cork, originally seated in the neighborhood of Clonakilty, but now numerous throughout the Counties of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick.
In part of the Eoghanacht Genealogies, a poem of Cathan O’Duinnin, written in A.D. 1320, records Cronin, a son of Sealbhach and descendant of the O’Donoghues.
Major movements of people followed Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. The powerful Norman Lords swept across the country seeking the best land and seizing it. These included the Desmond FitzGeralds and their supporters who targeted the lands of Limerick County. This caused the families of Collins and O’Donovan to forsake their ancient territories in Limerick and seek their fortunes further South in the Carbery area of West Cork, invited there by the O’Mahoneys who at that time were at war with their distant cousins the O’Donoghues.
The final outcome of all these upheavals was that the Collins and O’Donovans moved down to Carbery, the O’Donoghues moved up to Glen Fesk and Killarney, and the O’Learys moved up to Uibh Laoghaire, the area around Inchigeela and Ballingeary, where they have remained ever since. With them came many of their followers including the Cronins, Twomeys, and Lynches who had all been natives of South Carbery.
A leading family in O’Cronin served as the stewards of the church at Gougane Barra, near Ballingeary, Co. Cork.
Cronin (with which the prefix O is very seldom retained today) is one of the most numerous surnames, just failing to be included in the list of the hundred commonest. Actually Cronin has the 101st place. The great majority of people so called belong to West Munster, particularly County Cork.
In 1659 it was recorded as a principal name in County Limerick (Barony of Connello) and County Kerry (Barony of Maguniy) as well as in the two baronies of County Cork. Curiously enough in the north and east of the county, not in the west as might be expected, since the family of O’Cronin is one of the Corca Laoidhe located in the western part of County Cork.
Croneen was formerly a common spelling of the name. It is noted in the place-name Ballycroneen in east Cork, which was identified sometimes as Croneen’s town, but is also said to commemorate St. Cronin. In the Census of Ireland, about 1659, O’Cronin is listed among the principal Irish names in the Barony of Orrery and Kilmore in County Cork, similarly the form O’Croyne appears among the principal Irish names in Condon and Clangibbon Barony, also in County Cork.
Variations of the name include Cronan, Cronyn Cronine and Croning but most common in the middle of the eighteenth century was Croneen with more than 50 being returned in the 1766 religious census of Cloyne. In 1890 176 Cronin births were registered of which 102 were in county Cork.
Although the majority of Cronins were Roman Catholic there were a small number of Protestants, in 1709 there was a marriage recorded between one of the Palitinate Protestants and a Cronin woman, and in 1766 there was one Protestant Cronin family returned for the parish of Kildorrery.
Among the more prominent Cronins were J. L. Cronin, a Resident Magistrate during the famine years; and Richard Cronin, Lord Mayor of Cork in 1907. On the other side of the coin the Transportation Database records 47 people of this name as being sentenced to Transportation between 1788 and 1868, most for crimes which seem minor by today’s standards.
The name is found all along the southern portion of the O’Sullivan Beara Greenway, particularly around Kealkil, Ballingeary and Ballyvourney.