|Jon Cronin, "Beacon of Hope" Award Recipient
|By Rick Winterson
The inaugural “Beacon of Hope” Award, which is dedicated to the memory of Darlene Sheehan, will be given to Jon Cronin by the South Boston Collaborative at its Comedy Night fundraiser on January 26.
Jon Cronin is originally from the town of Ballinhassig, which is just outside of Cork in Ireland. He’s the son of John and Angela (Thompson) Cronin, who are still alive and well; he has an older sister, Anna, and a younger brother, Richard.
Engineering runs in Jon’s family. His father worked on structural steel all his life. Anna has her degree in structural engineering; Richard is a software engineer. Jon himself took an Associates Degree from Cork Institute of Technology.
Nowadays, Ireland is known as the “Emerald Tiger”, because its economy is the fastest growing in Europe’s Common Market. It wasn’t always, that prosperous. Back in the 80s, 70% of degree-holding Irish residents emigrated elsewhere.
Jon came here and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Structural Engineering in 1991 at University of Lowell (known as Lowell Tech back then). He worked for Metcalf & Eddy for three years, but he had developed an ambition to go in another direction.
Jon had previously worked his way through Lowell by tending bar three or four nights a week. Fourteen years ago, he moved to South Boston. When the establishment once known as The Point became available on East Broadway, he and his partner, Joe Arcari, bought it out, and in 1995, they opened the Boston Beer Garden.
Jon soon expanded into The Playwright, which was previously named Molly Malone’s. His enterprises now include the East Village Hotel in Cork, which provides the accommodations that Jon frequently donates as auction items for South Boston’s fundraisers. He recently opened “The Sanctuary”, an upscale lounge on State Street.
Six years ago, because of his interest in design, engineering, and architecture, Jon diversified into residential development, most of which is located in South Boston. He has a number of new residential projects in the planning stages, and has formed his own company called The Cronin Group. He is involved in the purchase of the Gate of Heaven Rectory, and intends to donate a substantial portion of the proceeds from its development to the Neighborhood House. During this interview, Jon gave a lot of credit for his success to his right-hand man in the Cronin Group, Ciaran McNelis. McNelis also serves on the Board of the South Boston Collaborative.
Jon and Nicole Brady (from Rockland) were married three months ago. They were introduced through mutual friends. They met now and then and dated casually, until their friendship became serious. As Jon puts it, “She’s very supportive of what I do. I found my soul mate.”
Both Jon and Nicole are devoted to South Boston. He first lived on East Fifth Street in the early 90s. He says, “I was drawn to South Boston’s community feeling, along with its Irish roots and St. Brigid Church.” Using her Newbury Street background, Nicole will soon open a shop on East Broadway called “Ku de Ta” (from “coup d’etat” - French for “Revolution”). Ku de Ta will feature women’s contemporary clothes and accessories, some of which will be made from Nicole’s own designs. Jon and Nicole are currently renovating a condo on E Street, so they are truly here to stay. In their few moments of spare time, they like to travel, especially on the Asian continent.
During this interview, Jon continually referred to the example set for him by South Boston activists like Michael Kineavy and Joe “Dodo” Nee. But he himself sits on many boards, including those of the Collaborative, Laboure, and the Neighborhood House. He’s busily at work marketing the Collaborative’s upcoming Comedy Night by selling ads, tables, and sponsorships – Jon is living proof that you have to work for your awards in South Boston.
In addition, he is considering the practice of supporting worthy causes by turning over a percentage of the proceeds from the developments he is planning. When asked why, he replies, “It’s an opportunity to give something back. If every developer did this it would greatly improve community relations.” And Jon plans to serve on the fundraising project for the Neighborhood House relocation to the Gate of Heaven Hall.
Perhaps this will give a quick snapshot of some of Jon’s accomplishments, which have brought the “Beacon of Hope” Award his way.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The South Boston Collaborative’s Comedy Night takes place on Thursday, January 26, at 7 p.m. in Florian Hall, 88 Hallett Street, Dorchester. Comedians Johnny Pizzi, Larry Myles, Chase Langton, and Mike Donovan are featured. Call (617)534-9500 for tickets – they are going fast!