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Maureen Cronin. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

Maureen Cronin – A local legend, fondly remembered

TRIBUTES have been paid to the late Maureen Cronin who passed away at her home in Ennis in her 105th year this week. The pioneering educator, talented musician and avid writer was not only well-known in her adopted home-town of Ennis, but she also rose to national prominence. She appeared on radio and television including RTÉ’s Nationwide in 2014, as well as 2015’s The Local Eye where she was seen on one of her regular visits to The Clare Champion offices.

She was born Maureen O’Carroll on Christmas night 1916 in Toureenfineen, Rockchapel, County Cork and grew up in a house surrounded by music. After school she trained as a teacher, and on marrying her beloved husband Seán she blazed a trail by defying the marriage ban on women teachers.

In 2014, she was honoured at the 2014 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards for the part she played in getting the ban lifted, becoming a test case for the INTO Teachers’ Union by carrying on teaching in Limerick for a full year without pay. She continued her career until well after the ban was eventually lifted in 1958.

Following her passing, INTO president Joe McKeown stated, “Maureen will be remembered for her contribution to the teaching profession and standing firm against the marriage ban.”

Adept in many musical instruments, Maureen was famed as a music teacher and she adjudicated at county, Munster and All Ireland Fleadhanna throughout the years. Joining many tributes from across the world of music this week Clare Comhaltas recalled the encouragement she gave to generations of musicians.

Maureen was a regular contributor to The Clare Champion, penning witty verses and stories which she would hand deliver to the editor. Managing director John Galvin recalls, “Maureen was for many years a regular visitor to The Champion. “Every Thursday morning without fail, she would appear, very often with a poem, which was not always suitable for publication. Even when quite frail, she insisted on climbing the stairs to meet the editor in person.

“She always had a preference for a man to escort her up the stairs. In her younger days, she was a trail-blazer – defying the marriage ban in her own inimitable style. As she got older, she never lost any of that feistiness. We’ll miss her stories, her poetry and her positive outlook on life. Our thoughts are with her family.”

Councillor Pat Hayes, whose late father knew Maureen through the Tulla Céilí Band, described her as a “woman of great heart and enthusiasm”. “She made a huge contribution to The Champion and while her passing is a big loss, it was wonderful to have her for all of the years that we did. So much time and thought went into her pieces which were always well received”.

The Convent Primary School in Mallow where Maureen worked for many years stated, “Those of us who had the privilege of working with Maureen, will remember her fondly and miss her dearly.

Maureen exuded positivity, strength, determination and courage. “Her unwavering good spirits, energy and enthusiasm were an inspiration to us all. Maureen worked in Special Education for many years, where her dedication, diligence, consideration and empathy shone through time and time again. Past pupils of Maureen will remember her kindness, patience, love and understanding. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen’s family at this very difficult time.”

Maureen was laid to rest in Brosna Old Cemetery on Wednesday after mass in St Peter’s Church, Rockchapel. Pre-deceased by her husband Seán, she is survived by her sons Tony, Pat, daughters Sheila, Ann, daughters-in-law Peggy, Ann, sons-in-law Denis, Seán, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, relatives, friends and neighbours.

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