Elizabeth Cronin

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This page is about the singer. For the movie character, see Drop Dead Fred.

Elizabeth "Bess" Cronin (née Ó hIarlaithe) (1879 – 1956) was an Irish singer who specialized in traditional ("trad") music.

Born in West Cork, the daughter of Seán Ó hIarlaithe, a schoolteacher, she lived in the Baile Bhuirne area all her life. She spent her teenage years on her uncle's farm nearby. She married Seán Ó Croinin and they lived at Carraig an Adhmaid, Ballymakeera. The area was rich in traditional culture and music, and songs had been collected in the area for a long period and she became well known for the depth of her familiarity with the genre and for the quality of her songs and lore (in both English and Irish). Among the collectors of her work were Seán Ó Cuill and A. Martin Freeman, compiler of the famous Ballyvourney Collection.

Cronin was recorded by Séamus Ennis in 1947 and 1952. He referred to her as the Muskerry Queen of Song. She was often featured on BBC radio programmes. She was recorded by the American collector Alan Lomax in 1951, and some of her songs are included in the Irish volume of his Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music (New York 1955).

Various recordings and archive material were assembled by her grandson, Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, for a book and CD collection, The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin. Her songs have often been broadcast by Philip King on RTÉ radio traditional music programmes including The Banks of Sullane.

She was the mother of the scholar Donncha Ó Croinin (died 1990) and folklore collector Seán Ó Croinin.

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