This famous Irish clan surname has three quite distinct settlement points in Counties Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, and in some respects it is arguable whether there is any relation between them. The name translates as "the son of the saffron coloured one", and is therefore a nickname for a fair-haired person, possibly a Viking - or one of Viking ancestry. Most nameholders today are found in County Cork, although in the 1659 "census" of all Ireland it was recorded as a principal name in the Barony of Connello, County Limerick, and the Barony of Magunihy, County Kerry.In early times the name was commonly recorded as "O'Croneen". The village of Ballycroneen in East Cork was once believed to be the place of origin of the O'Cronins, but surprisingly this is not proven. The first recorded nameholder (below) was tutor to Donal O'Sullivan Beare, hero of Dunboy and the march to Ulster in 1600. Unfortunately god moves in mysterious ways, and Father Donagh O'Cronin paid for his support with his life. Early recordings of the surname include Bartholomew Cronin, a witness at Killarney, County Kerry, on the occasion of the christening of his daughter, Catherine, on May 8th 1791, whilst amongst the earliest famine emigrants was Patt Cronin, who left on the "Montezuma" of Liverpool bound for New York, in May 1846. He is described as a 'labourer', aged 10 yrs! The clan coat of arms has the blazon of fusily, azure and ermine, suggesting support for religious and even royal causes. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Donagh O' Cronin, which was dated 1601, who was hanged at Cork for treason, during the reign of Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558-1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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