Reviewed in the “Waterford News & Star” 27 July 2006
‘The Colour of Life’
from Geoffrey Cronin's perspective
Book recounts author's life growing up in Waterford and Woodstown
By Jennifer Long Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org
ANYBODY who grew up in Waterford in the 20s, 30s and 40s —or even had parents or grandparents who did— would be well advised to buy a book by Waterford native Geoffrey Cronin, which is now on sale locally.
Born in Johnstown and reared in Woodstown, Geoffrey Cronin's ‘The Colour of Life' is a collection of 34 enthralling short stories from his own life with the vast majority of the book set in Waterford in the 1930s specifically.
Jam-packed with local names and photographs, this book has received fantastic reviews from the 'InDublin' magazine and was even compared to Alice Tailor's ‘To School through the Fields' by one reviewer.
Certainly, the book establishes Cronin's ability as a master storyteller and owing to the early success of his first offering, it's now fitting that he's working on his second.
Geoffrey is now 82 years of age and lives in Shankill in Dublin. He's son of the late Richard (Dick) Cronin and Claire Spencer, who ran Cronin's Bakery at 12 John Street many years ago.
Geoffrey himself grew up in Woodstown and indeed the book is full of stories —all true and many very funny— from this time.
There are plenty of local character of bygone days mentioned, not least in a section which lists all the members, and their varied occupations, of Woodstown Cricket Club in the 1930s!
However, dotted throughout the book, which is very easy to read, are also some of the humorous phrases which were used in everyday speech around this time.
In addition, there's the rules of the popular game 'Pitch and Toss' and other tit-bits of interesting information, such as the items that were sold in Cronin's Bakery in the 30s and their prices.
Overall, the book is an intriguing mix of fact and folklore and provides a rich insight into a time that has almost been forgotten with lots of details of the many fascinating characters whom inhabited Geoffrey Cronin's early life.
Geoffrey, who is a grandfather 11 times over, married Waterford woman Joan Flanagan, originally of Ursula's Terrace.
His mainstream career was as General Manager and a director of the Irish National Insurance Company. Now, he works in wood-turning but in years gone by, he has also been a lumberjack, pigeon fancier, mobile cinema operator, master confectioner, ballroom dance teacher and big band leader!
He first ventured into the band business in 1940s, playing piano with "The Hep Cats', a six-piece formed by his brother Dick. Later on, he headed ‘The Geoffrey Cronin Trio' who became resident band at dances in The Haven in Dunmore East
‘The Colour of Life' has been available in Dublin since last summer but is now being sold in Waterford, at The Book Centre and Waterford Museum of Treasures where its retailing at €9.95.
"The response to the book has been amazing and a lot of Waterford people have been in contact with me to say that they really enjoyed it and found it very funny but also the tact that it jogged their memories of life back then," said Geoffrey, who still takes time out on occasion to visit his native city.
“I’ve never launched it in Waterford but may well do so. The good response from the first book means there is another one in the melting pot! Again, it will be something similar, a collection of short stories which will be easy to read and, hopefully, enjoyable for all who pick it up, young or old."