Tom Cronin - born 6th August 1919, died 8th October 2007
The passing of Tom Cronin on 8th October is the end of an era. He was HYC's longest serving member, having joined Howth Sailing Club in April 1939 at the age of 20 as an enthusiastic crew on Billy Mooney's Aideen. In later years he was No 1 on Billy Cuffe-Smith's various boats for many years, tutoring many young crew including current HYC stalwarts Neil Inglis, Derek Bothwell and John Malcolm.
At the outbreak of the War Tom was one of the first to join No 1 Shore Company of the Maritime Inscription, later renamed Slua Muiri, now the Naval Reserve, commanded by HMYC Commodore William Lacy. He served with distinction until July 1976, attaining the rank of Lt Commander, No 1 Company.
He was particularly proud of his role in skippering the restored Asgard from Hamble to Howth, re-enacting Erskine Childer's historic voyage and landing of arms in Howth on 26 July 1914. It was the first time a Reserve Officer skippered an Irish Naval vessel with a Regular crew.
He made a fast passage, despite unsolicited assistance from an escorting Naval Corvette which insisted on giving him a "lee" from the strong Westerlies.
Without a radio it took Tom some time to get the message across that he did not need such assistance. They arrived several days early and anchored behind Lambay until 1500 on Sunday 30th July when the Asgard sailed into Howth to hand a symbolic gun to President De Valera, Erskine Childers Jr was among the many dignitaries present. There is a painting of the event in the Snug Bar by the noted artist John Ryan who witnessed it from his yacht Southern Cross.
During his time running Irish Coloured Cements in the 1960s and 70s he generously made his yard on the West Pier available for dinghy parking during the season.
Tom was appointed the first Marina Superintendent when it opened in July 1982 and ran it with Naval efficiency for 12 years until he retired from that position in 1994. For the first five years he operated the day shifts from a tiny caravan at the top of the Marina Bridge with three security staff at night. He set up the marina operating standards advising boat owners on mooring warps and berthing techniques.
He ran a vigorous campaign against halyard noise, tying off offending halyards and posting notices on masts instructing skippers to tie them back in future. Persistent offenders risked having their halyards pulled; the ensuing uproar eventually forced him to cease this practice.
While he was strict and occasionally gruff with members who he felt had transgressed his regulations, he was always helpful and generous with advice to members and visitors alike. The result was an efficient and welcoming marina. He was always "on-call" with his VHF open on Channel 37 at his bedside and rushed down from his home in the village whenever the night security called for assistance.
In 1987 he moved to a small office situated in the present dinghy park entrance to the Club House between the two exit doors. His new "young" assistant, Paddy Quigley, the irrepressible "PQ" was a veteran of the Wartime convoys to Murmansk including the ill-fated PQ 17, hence the nickname, Denis Higginbotham provided relief cover.
His administration was meticulous with daily advice notices to the office on boat changes, staff hours, vistors fees, etc. When the crane was installed he required cash up-front and several boats were left dangling in the air when Tom switched off the power because the crane fee was outstanding. Cash was balanced to the penny every day and he continued this task up until he finally retired from HYC in 2002.
Tom was not a committee man, but his input to HSC and later HYC in its formative years was enormous and we all owe him a great debt. He was conferred with Honorary Membership in 2003.
Tom is survived by his wife Peggy, an active and successful bridge player, Paddy a long time 17 sailor, twin sons Peter and Bill, Paddy's wife Rachel, many grandchildren, brother Denis and sister Jane.