Cronin, Jeremiah (Jerry) (1925–90), public representative and MEP, was born 14 September 1925 at Currabeha, Fermoy, Co. Cork, second of three sons of John (Sean) Cronin, blacksmith, and his wife, Alice Mulcahy, both from Co. Cork. His father took part in the war of independence, serving under Liam Lynch (qv). He was educated at the CBS, Fermoy. Joining the Mallow sugar factory in 1941, he became secretary of the Irish Sugar Beet Growers' Association in 1948, a position he held until 1965. He was a notable success in the job, playing a major part in revitalising the industry. With the support of the general manager of the sugar company, Lt-General Michael J. Costello (qv), he was responsible for developing a migratory labour scheme, in which workers from the west of Ireland came to work on farms in the south, helping growers to thin beet. An authority on beet seed growing, he also helped establish an association for that purpose in Limerick and backed the establishment of Erin Foods vegetable processing plants in Mallow and elsewhere.
He joined the Mallow cumann of Fianna Fáil in 1943 and was first elected to the Dáil in 1965, representing the Cork north-east constituency, becoming Mallow's first resident parliamentary member since William O'Brien (qv). He was elected to Cork County Council in 1967 and was Fianna Fáil director of elections for Cork north-east in the 1966 presidential election when the constituency was the only one in Cork city or county to give Éamon de Valera (qv) a majority vote over T. F. O'Higgins (qv) (1916–2003). He was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister for agriculture and fisheries, Neal Blaney (qv) in 1969 and became minister for defence in 1970 in a reshuffle after the arms crisis, a post he held until 1973. He presided over the expansion and modernisation of the defence forces during the early years of the northern troubles and in 1972 was the first Fianna Fáil government minister to attend the annual Béal na mBláth ceremonies to commemorate the death of Michael Collins (qv). The Fianna Fáil government were voted out of office in 1973 and when they returned to power in 1977 he asked not to be considered for ministerial office. He supported Charles Haughey in the Fianna Fáil leadership election when Jack Lynch (qv) resigned in 1979 and seconded Haughey's nomination at the parliamentary party meeting. He was elected to the European Parliament the same year and did not seek re-election to the Dáil in 1981. An MEP until 1984, he was a member of the EC's parliamentary committee on regional policy and planning.
A well-known sportsman in his youth, he played rugby for Mallow and Sunday's Well rugby clubs, being capped twice for the Munster junior rugby team (1951–2) and winning a senior league medal with Sunday's Well. A director of an auctioneering and insurance business, he was prominent in the community life of Mallow where he resided at 4 Castle Grove. A founder member of the now defunct Mallow industrial development association, he was also the first secretary of the Mallow show society. He was a correspondent for the Corkman newspaper until his election to the Dáil in 1965. He married Sheila Sheehan of Main Street, Mallow in 1952 and they had three sons, William, John, and Jeremiah (d. 1965) and three daughters, Mary, Anna and Aileen. He wrote several articles for farming publications and press. He was ill for the last five years of his life, suffering from Parkinson's disease, and died 19 October 1990, at the Cork Regional (later University) Hospital. He is buried in St Joseph's cemetery, Mallow.