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A History of McCrohan(James McCrohan of Texas, U.S.A.)

World-wide home of McCrohan Genealogy

An t-Oileánach / The Islandman
Further ReadingJerry writes "
Tomás O'Crohan's book - An t-Oileánach Tomas O'Crohan was born on the Great Blasket Island in 1856 and died there in 1937, a great master of his native Irish. He shared to the full the perilous life of a primitive community, yet possessed a shrewd and humorous detachment that enabled him to observe and describe the world. His book is a valuable description of a now vanished way of life; his sole purpose in writing it was in his own words, 'to set down the character of the people about me so that some record of us might live after us, for the like of us will never be again'.

The following text is taken from the first page of "An t-Oileánach", translated into the English by Robin Flower"

I was born on St. Thomas's day in the year 1856. I can recall being at my mother's breast, for I was four years old before I was weaned. I am 'the scrapings of the pot', the last of the litter. That's why I was left so long at the breasts. I was a spoilt child, too.

Four sisters I had, and every one of them putting her own titbit into my mouth. They treated me like a young bird in the nest. Maura Donel, Kate Donel, Eileen Donel, and Nora Donel - those were their names. My brother was Pats Donel, and I am Tomás Donel. Maura is living still in this Island, two of them are still alive in America, and Pats isn't dead yet. Kate died after drawing the old-age pension for three months. That was the whole bunch of us. They were all grown when I was a baby, so that it was little wonder that I was spoilt among them all. Nobody expected me at all when I came their way.

My father was a middle-sized man, stout and strong. My mother was a flourishing woman, as tall as a peeler, strong, vigorous, and lively, with bright, shining hair. But when I was at the breast there was little strength in her milk, and besides that I was 'an old cows calf', not easy to rear. For all that, the rascal death carried off many a fine young ruffian and left me to the last. I suppose he didn't think it worth his while to shift me. I was growing stronger all the time and going my own way wherever I wanted, only that they kept an eye on me to see that I didn't go by the sea. I wore a petticoat of undressed wool, and a knitted cap. And the food I got was hens' eggs, lumps of butter, and bits of fish, limpets,and winkles - a bit of everthing going from sea or land.

We live in a cramped little house, roofed with rushes from the hill. Often the hens would nest in the thatch and lay a dozen eggs there. We had a post bed in the corner, and two beds at the bottom of the house. There used to be two cows in the house, the hens and their eggs, an ass, and the rest of us. Our house was reversed: that is, its door faced north - all the others were turned to the south...."
Posted on Friday, 17 August 2001 @ 22:00:09 EDT by Admin

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An t-Oileánach / The Islandman

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O'Crohan family tree (Score: 1)
by Jerry (jerry at on Saturday, 25 August 2001 @ 12:01:53 EDT
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According to McLysaght, the O'Crohans were a branch of the McCrohan family, although no-one is very sure how the name was transformed in this way.

I understand that Tomas had a son called Sean, who continued the literary tradition, and I'd be very interested in any information which would allow us to reconstitute the family tree of Tomas O'Crohan.

Regards to all, Jerry

Re: O'Crohan family tree (Score: 0)
by Anonymous on Monday, 08 July 2002 @ 20:06:21 EDT
Yes JERRY SEAN was also something of a writer though not as well known as his Father.He was knocked down in a hit and run R.I.P.near Ballyferritter,some 20 or so years ago.A day in our life, translrted from gaelic by Tim Enright and published by Oxford university press reissued in 2000 is one such book.Title in Gaelic is la dar saol. John Mc Crohan ,slieve east. camp.Co Kerry.e mccrohanofkerry@eIRCOM.NET


Re: O'Crohan family tree (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Thursday, 09 November 2006 @ 06:07:42 EST
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Sean O'Crohan was born on the Great Blasket in 1898 and died on 8th December 1975. He was knocked down whilst walking near his home. His wife Eibhlis was born 6th May 1911 and died on 12th September 1971. She also wrote a book  'Letters from the Great Blasket'

Sean was the only child to survive Tomas O'Crohan (author of The Islandman, Island Crosstalk)) who died in 1937. Tomas had 10 children who all died for various reasons (ie; childhood diseases, falling from cliffs collecting seagull eggs. One drowned trying to save his sister Cait from drowning, along with a family friend-Eileen Nichols, who also drowned) on friday 13th August 1909. The book 'A dark day on the Blaskets' deals with this event alone.

Cait, the sister who was saved from drowning died in childbirth some years later. She was my Grandmother. Her first son Padraig Ua Maoileoin was also a writer and translater. He died a few years ago now. The book 'The Blaskets', people and literature, by Muir Mac Conghail has the family tree on page 166. It's very interesting to read how everyone fits into it.



Re: O'Crohan family tree (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Monday, 06 December 2010 @ 07:19:30 EST
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I need to correct something here.

I have been emailing one of Tomas O'Crohan's Great granddaughters recently (Jane). She's the daughter of Thomas F Crohan and his father was Thomas T Crohan (the son that went to America and brother to Sean O'Crohan) and his father was Tomas O'Crohan (the Islandman).

Jane has two siblings and they all reside in the USA

So Sean wasn't the only child to survive after Tomas' death. I understand from Jane that Sean had four daughters, (not two as I believed).

More information to follow .........


Re: O'Crohan family tree (Score: 1)
by SlieveEast ( on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 @ 13:34:35 EDT
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Hi Jerry,yes indeed Sean was a son of Thomas and also a writer,his book A DAY IN OUR LIFE is translated into English by Tim Enright,Published by OXFORD,also ISLAND CROSSTALK is another of Seans books also translated into English by Tim.Regards,John[Slieve East]


Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by kmc ( on Saturday, 15 September 2001 @ 18:49:29 EDT
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Yes, this book was very interesting! My favorite part was about the seal family killing in the caves, off the coast. And the funny stories about Thomas' good pal Pat's Mickey "the king" There's a heavy feeling of melancholy in is his writng . And at the same time an inner strength and a resolve of God's will working in his life.!! kmc

Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Friday, 22 December 2006 @ 17:32:04 EST
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In October 2006 I discovered a woman named Irene Lucchitti (Wollongong, Australia) who gained a PhD with her thesis "Islandman Translated: Tomas O'Crohan, Autobiography and the Politics of Culture'

I rang her and arranged to meet two days later. She is a delightful woman, a teacher and mother of four. I asked her why she chose my Great grandfather to do a thesis on. She said that the thesis was actually on the politics surrounding the literature from the Blaskets.

Naturally I asked her how she even knew there was any literature from the island. She explained that when on holidays in Ireland, many years prior, she picked up 'The Islandman' in a souvenir shop. She thought it was fiction (for the tourist trade). She read the book and when she returned to Australia, put it away and there it remained until her youngest child had finished his school studies.

Then she picked up the book and started..........

Irene spent over 6 years researching, (including six trips to Ireland) to attempt to gain an insight on various aspects of her chosen field. She met a number of people who thought she should speak to this person and that. Others said she would not be successful since a lot was lost in the translation into english. Next came two years of gaelic studies, just to grasp the language.

On Irene's first trip to Kerry she concentrated on documents uncovered in the Blasket visitors centre and articles that had been written by various people regarding the literature. A number of people indicated that all aspects had been covered and that she shouldn't waste any more time on it.

Although she was a little shaken by this attitude, she realised that perhaps an outsider was the best person to be objective about the subject. Well I have read 66 pages of the 256 page, beautifully bound (personally autographed) thesis that Irene presented me with at our first meeting and hope to spend Christmas reading the rest. I decided that I wanted to read some of the other Blasket books before I read the thesis, to fully appreciate any reference to other writers Irene may make.

Isn't it amazing that a woman born nearly 20 years after the death of the Islandman would say that she feels like his sister and not a day goes by that she doesn't think of him! I think Tomas would have liked Irene Lucchitti very much..........


Eileen de Lapp
Sydney, Australia

N.B.  If you would like to read it also (online) then 'google' search....Tomas O'Crohan's geneology......under University of Wollongong copyright warning (3rd item down). Irene Lucchitti

Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by clinton ( on Tuesday, 06 February 2007 @ 19:31:18 EST
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Hello Eileen,

I understand that Tomas O'Criomhthain is your great grandfather, does that mean that Niamh Ni Chriomhthain is your mother ?


Melbourne, Australia


Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Monday, 26 February 2007 @ 03:57:42 EST
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G'day Clinton,

Tomas O'Criomthain married Maire Ni Cathain on 5/2/1878. They had a daughter Cait O'Criomthain, (she was the one that nearly drowned with Donal,  her brother and Eileen Nicholls). They were both drowned on 1/8/1909.

She married Tomas O Maoileoin (Malone)  on ? and had dad on 21/7/1917 (on the mainland - Dunquin). I was born on 17/2/1952 in Birmingham, UK. My daughter was born in Sydney, Australia on 28/8/1989.

I can't see Niamh Ni Chriomthain's name on the family tree (Ray Stagles book - page 166 - 7) anywhere. Can you tell me where you got it please?



Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Monday, 26 February 2007 @ 04:57:48 EST
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Apologies..................I failed to mention my Mother is Margaret Malone (nee Glennon) from Dunmore, Co. Galway. She married my father on 13/2/1945 in Birmingham, UK



Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by clinton ( on Tuesday, 27 February 2007 @ 19:44:02 EST
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Tomas O'Crohan had a number of children, one of his sons was name Sean O'Crohan, who has written a book about leaving the Blasket Islands.
From my understanding Sean was the only child of Tomas who lived long enough to have children of his own. Sean's daughter is Niamh and she spoke at the 1989 remembrance day in Dingle for the 90th anniversary of the drowning. I thought that Niamh was the only living grand daughter of Tomas O'Crohan?


Re: Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Sunday, 06 May 2007 @ 10:39:36 EDT
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Sorry, it's been a while since my last visit!

Sean had two daughters, Niamh and I can't remember the other one's name. (I will find out). Was this remembrance day the 80th anniversary (drowning 13/8/1909). I would liked to have been there........I really enjoyed reading 'A dark day on the blaskets'

Cait, (My grandmother) had about six children, (she died in childbirth) Eileen (died 19yrs) Paddy, (the writer/translater) Mary, (teacher) Cait, (midwife) Sean (My father John) and Bridie. There was another marriage and there were many more children, one of whom is on holidays with me at the moment,Treasa.

She's in New Zealand until Tuesday, but I will ask her when she gets back any other questions you would like answered.


P. S.  I recently read Blasket Memories and A Day in Our Life and enjoyed both of Sean's books.


Re: Re: Re: An t-Oileánach / The Islandman (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Sunday, 06 May 2007 @ 10:45:16 EDT
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Just to set the record straight.

Island Cross talk was the first book written by Tomas O'Crohan. This encouraged him to write The Islandman.



Tomas' youngest son! (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Thursday, 24 May 2007 @ 08:09:26 EDT
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I am currently reading 'Hungry for Home' by Cole Morton. It's a great read and I've learnt things about my family that I didn't know, for instance, the youngest son Tomas had, went to America. No, it's wasn't Sean but another unnamed son. I don't know what happened to him or whether he had any children. If anyone knows, please let me know.

I read that my Grandmother died in childbirth whilst pregnant with her seventh child, (I presume the child died). I had previously thought that the child had been her sixth and had survived, (Aunt Bridie).

There's mention of the girl Tomas was sweet on, (family name only - Dalaigh) and wanted to marry.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I am really enjoying it!

Sean's other daughter's name is Cait, (named after my grandmother, his sister) and also his mother Cait. I believe both daughters are living in Kerry.



Blaskets (Score: 1)
by Robert on Thursday, 24 April 2008 @ 15:11:53 EDT
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I was delighted to come upon this forum. I'm a writer, also a professor at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, working on a book about the Great Blasket, the visitors to it, and the islanders they met there. So of course I'm interested in Tomas O Criomhthain. But also his daughter-in-law Lis Ni Shuillebhain, who married his son Sean, and maintained a long correspondence with a Londoner, George Chambers, as Eileen noted in a post in 2006.

Does anyone have further information about Lis, Chambers, or their correspondence over the years?


Robert Kanigel


Re: Blaskets (Score: 1)
by Eileen on Friday, 13 June 2008 @ 08:32:51 EDT
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Hi Robert

Unable to contact you by email, but if you email me on I may be able to refer you to someone.





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