Tuesday 23 January 2018

Cronin's torch must not be extinguished

Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin
Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin

Anthony Cronin, who died last Wednesday, was an artist and an activist. And in each of these vocations he distinguished himself.

There was a temptation in some of the tributes from those who knew and admired him to suggest that perhaps his art had suffered for his activism, that he had in some way, possibly spread himself a little too thin, and in the process damaged his literary reputation. He did not.

In the iconic photograph from the first Bloomsday in 1954, he is pictured alongside Flann O'Brien and Patrick Kavanagh. He was their contemporary as was Brendan Behan, and today Cronin is sometimes thought to be in their literary shadow. But all three of these men were destined to die relatively soon afterwards while Cronin still had a whole lifetime of work ahead of him. So he had time to be a poet, a novelist, a biographer, a polemicist, a journalist and an activist.

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