Anthony Cronin (1928-2016)


(Above: The First Bloomsday Celebrations at Sandycove, Co. Dublin, June 16th, 1954. From l-r Anthony Cronin, John Ryan, Patrick Kavanagh)

I used to see Anthony Cronin every day, as he’d pop into my late father’s grocery shop on Westland Row.

Anthony always used to chat to my Dad at length about anything and everything, and was always an exceptionally kind and gregarious man. This was when I was quite young,  years before I had any idea who he was, or aware of what he had done for the arts in Ireland.

Labels like poet, critic or author, don’t go far enough to capture the breadth  and influence of Cronin’s life and work, who helped found the Irish Museum of Modern Art and initiated the official celebration of the first Bloomsday in 1954.

Here is a hilarious silent one-minute clip of Cronin, Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh, John Ryan, Tom Joyce, and others, beginning their Joycean pilgrimage at Sandycove.

The day degenerated into an epic pub crawl by horse and cart. You could say Bloomsday hasn’t changed too much, except now it is celebrated all over the world.

I’m just back from attending Tony’s funeral in Donnybrook. Mourners included our President, Michael D. Higgins, and numerous figures from the arts in Ireland. Eamon Dunphy delivered a touching prayer of the faithful paying tribute to Tony’s love of horse racing.

There will be a lot written and said over the coming days, as there should be, as Tony was an extraordinary man.

I’d like to publish a poem of Tony’s here that mentions my father.

Rest in Peace Tony. Hope you’re up there somewhere catching up with my Dad.

Ar dheis Dé do raibh a anam


by Anthony Cronin

Sometimes, walking along Westland Row,
Thinking that Anna will be there before him,
His happiness is so great,
He is like a walking jar,
Full to the very brim.
So full that it even spills,
Slopping a little over,
On to the pavement,
Into the gutter.
As he crosses over to Mr. Sweeney’s
A balancing act is needed.
In the shop he straightens up,
An amphora, a cistern,
Still swayed by the deep slop
Of happiness inside.
As he leaves the shop,
In spite of his best efforts
A little spills on the floor.
Mr. Sweeney calls to his assistant
“Maybe you’d better get the mop.”
From The Minotaur and Other Poems


  1. A very nice piece indeed, well done. And as someone who attended Westland Row CBS I particularly liked his poem, and I reckon your Dad probably needed a big mop!

  2. Reblogged this on seamussweeney and commented:
    My brother attended the funeral of Anthony Cronin today and here are some of his thoughts on Cronin – and he reproduces Cronin’s “Happiness” which mentions our father and his shop on Westland Row…

  3. Brilliant Eamon. Thanks. Great poem. The Bloomsday footage reminds me of Cronin’s brilliant book Dead as Doornails.

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