Thursday, January 4, 2024

2024 Family Lore - Mary Catherine Cronin

Mary Catherine Cronin 1895-1952

Nancy Simmons

Josephine Martin - mother

Mary Catherine Cronin – grandmother

Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone


Family lore has it that my grandmother, Mary Catherine Cronin, kissed the Blarney Stone on a trip she took with her parents in 1909 to visit relatives in County Cork.  As family lore, you wonder how true this family story is.


“The Blarney Stone (IrishCloch na Blarnan) is a block of Carboniferous limestone[1] built into the battlements of Blarney CastleBlarney, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from CorkIreland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.  Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia -


My grandmother, Mary Catherine Cronin, was born on the 27th of October 1895 in Detroit Michigan. She was the fifth child and third daughter born to Dennis Cronin and Bridget Johanna Stackpole. She was probably christened at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Detroit where her parents were married. She made her first communion in 1907 when she was 11 years old.


Mary Catherine Cronin - First Communion about 1907

Family stories state that Mary Catherine had rheumatic fever and St Vitis Dance, known today as Sydenham Chorea (, as a child, and it caused her to have heart damage. Due to her ill health, her parents decided in 1909 to take her with them on an ocean voyage to visit relatives in Ireland. Her mother was born in County Limerick and her father was born in Coolinarna, County Cork, Ireland. Coolinarna is less than an hour from Blarney Castle, so it is very possible that the family visited Blarney Castle and Mary kissed the Blarney Stone. The passenger list on their return trip states his daughter as Bridgette and is eleven years old when in fact she was 13 years old. Her father's passport lists her as Mary but also lists her as eleven years old.


Ancestry - UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

Ancestry - U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

I have no documentation about where Mary attended school in Detroit, but the 1940 federal census states she attended four years of high school. She would have graduated from high school in 1912 and five years later the 28th of June 1917 she married Edward Jacob Martin at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

Wedding Picture June 28, 1917
Standing- Mary Ellen O'Rourke and Hubbard Walter Martin
Seated- Mary Catherine Cronin and Edward Jacob Martin


Mary and Edward had four children: Edward born in 1918, Nina born in 1920, Josephine born in 1923 and Beatrice born in 1929. Mary and Edward lived with his parents for the first couple of years of their marriage. Mary's mother died in 1924 and her father in 1925 leaving them a house on Bostwick Street where they lived for many years. In 1939, due to Edward's parents' failing health, they moved to Vinewood Avenue and lived in the flat above his parents. In 1948, due to Mary's heart problems, they moved to a garage home on Steadman Street in Dearborn. Unfortunately, Mary suffered a stroke on the first of October and due to her weak heart died on October 13, 1952. Mary Catherine is buried in Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.

Denis Cronin, Mary's father, Mary Catherine holding Josephine, my mother
Picture taken about 1924

Unfortunately, I was only five when my grandmother died and the only picture I have with her is a Mother's Day photo taken May 1952. I only have the stories that my mother shared with me about my grandmother. And one of those stories is that my grandmother, Mary Catherine Cronin, kissed the Blarney Stone! Based on the documents and the story, I do believe my grandmother, Mary Catherine (Cronin) Martin kissed the Blarney Stone on her trip to Ireland in 1909.


Mother's Day 1952
Mary Catherine, daughter-in-law, Julie (Marko) Martin, my mother, Josephine (Martin) Simmons
Mary's grandchildren: Edward Timothy Martin, Cathy Jean Simmons and Nancy Ann Simmons

Addition Family Photos of Mary Catherine (Cronin) Martin and her family

About 1921 at Belle Isle
Son Edward William 3 years, husband Edward Jacob Martin,
Nina Marie 1 year and Mary Catherine (Cronin) Martin


Sister Johanna (Cronin) O'Grady and Mary Catherine (Cronin) Martin

Martin Family about 1944
Daughters and son with his son and wife
Josephine Blanche, Mary Catherine, Edward Jacob, Beatrice Mary, and Nina Marie
Edward William holding son Edward Timothy and Julie (Marko) Martin

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