Edward Cronin’s performances on the O'Neill cylinders are a revelation; they make it abundantly clear that he was a major stylist in the idiom of Irish traditional fiddle playing.
Cronin was born around 1838 in Limerick Junction, County Tipperary. As a boy, Cronin was already in demand as a fiddler, playing tunes and long dances for experienced dancers. A weaver by trade, he immigrated to Tory, New York where he was unable to find work. He later moved to Chicago.
Cronin was regarded as an important teacher of Irish music in Chicago, although O’Neill noted that Cronin’s unique style of bowing and slurring was difficult to pass on to others. He also developed a reputation as a composer of dance tunes, especially hornpipes. He’s known to have composed “Rogers O’Neill’s” and “Caroline O’Neill’s Hornpipe” for two of Francis O’Neill’s children.
He was O’Neill’s original musical editor of Dance Music of Ireland, but eventually was replaced by James O’Neill.
Sources: Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 392 – 394; The Scribe, 89; Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950.