CRONAN - at the end of the last century was almost exclusively confined to County Cork, County Kerry and County Limerick, with the majority of families of the name in County Cork, where the sept O'Croinin was originally located, one of its branches having been erenaghs of St. Finbarr's foundation at Gougane Barra.
Population movements in the present century has brought many Cronin families to the capital and dispersed a number to other counties, but the heaviest distribution by far is still in County Cork, where Cronin families are numerous. The maritime county of Cork, in Munster, is bounded by the sea on the south-west, the south and the south-east. To the east it has land boundaries with the counties of Waterford and Tipperary, and to the north with Limerick and to the west with Kerry. Anciently the country formed part of the kingdom of Desmond. After the Anglo-Norman Invasion the whole of the present county, save the City of Cork (which had been founded by the Vikings) and its surroundings, was granted in 1177 by Henry 11 to Anglo-Norman knights who brought over their followers and established a military colony.
When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name was Archibald Joseph Cronin (1896-1981) the Scottish novelist born in Cardross, Scotland. The medical stories in his Scottish novels formed the basis of the popular radio and television series 'Dr. Finlay's Casebook' in the 1960's.
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