Johnny “Accordion” Cronin
Honored posthumously, May 19, 2012
Johnny Cronin hailed from Sliabh Luachra territory as he was born in Aghadoe, County Kerry on March 15, 1955 into a musical family. His father played the fiddle and his mother’s people (The Twomeys from Kilgarven, County Kerry) were also musicians. Johnny and his sister Maria were self-taught mainly and they competed in local fleadhanna. In the area musicians like the iconic Johnny O’Leary and John Brosnan influenced his own accordion playing and the Sliabh Luachra style was very much engrained in him.
Johnny Cronin came to New York in 1983 to seek more opportunity in employment and in the music scene there in the Big Apple. It afforded him an opportunity to learn more about the wider tradition of traditional music in New York and with the dominant musical styles emanating from Counties Sligo, Galway and Clare where many of the older masters in the music who had immigrated to New York came from. Johnny’s journey led him to such New York legends as Andy McGann, Johnny “fiddle” Cronin from back home in Kerry, Jack Coen and Joe “Banjo Burke” As a result Johnny’s mastery of reels as well as his native Sliabh Luachra music was very natural and fit in very well with the set dancing community. He became a welcome fixture at many NYC ceilithe including the series at the Cork Lounge in Long Island City.
Johnny married Aileen O’Connell from Knocknagree, daughter of Dan O’Connell who ran the famous set dancing pub that was a key component of the set dancing revival in the 1980s in Ireland. They returned to his homeplace in 1996 sharing the Killarney house with their three daughters, Roisin the eldest, then Hannah and Orlaith.
Johnny Cronin continued to tour to America and Nova Scotia and in the early days of the Gathering Festival in Killarney, he played an important role in promoting to music and dance fans abroad. Johnny Cronin passed away in November of 2008.