County Limerick village builds on its US links

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

An event officially recognising the ties between hundreds of families from North Carolina and the County Limerick village of Croom will be held in the United States next week.

An event officially recognising the ties between hundreds of families from North Carolina and the County Limerick village of Croom will be held in the United States next week.

County councillor Patrick C Fitzgerald has been invited by the Croom Family Association to attend the 90th annual “Gathering of the Crooms” at Chapel Hill, located near the North Carolina State capital of Raleigh.

The Croom family name originated during the mid 18th century when emigrants from County Limerick who had settled in the eastern region of North Carolina collectively decided to change their surname to Croom. The name change was influenced by growing hostility between Ireland and the British establishment at home.

The Crooms later became prominent members of North Carolinian and Virginian society, marrying into prominent families, such as General Robert E Lee’s. Today, US Census figures show that “the Crooms” number in their thousands across the southern and eastern United States and are considered a powerful voting group during presidential elections.

During his visit next week, Cllr Fitzgerald will seek to develop official culture and education exchange programmes between the US and Ireland following on from a similar visit to Limerick in May by Marcus Croom, a leading member of the Croom Family Association. His itinerary includes a visit to the Crooms Memorial at Chapel Hill, which has been erected to commemorate the ties between the family name and Croom, County Limerick.

According to Councillor Fitzgerald it is believed that County Limerick emigrants chose the Croom surname on arrival in North Carolina 250 years ago in response to the continued domestic struggle against the occupying British establishment in Ireland. “Today, the Croom family name and countless towns called Croom exist in many States throughout America,” he explained.

“This is a fascinating story and is one that has the potential to bring considerable cultural, business and tourism benefits for both County Limerick, particularly as the country prepares for The Gathering 2013. I am honoured to have been invited to represent Limerick County Council, my native village of Croom and the people of County Limerick at next week’s annual Gathering of the Crooms,” he continued.

Cllr Fitzgerald also noted the role played by the “Croom vote” in US politics. “At presidential election time, the Croom vote has an important part to play in the politics of America and many presidents have been elected with the Croom vote. With the American presidential election taking place later this year, the campaign teams of President Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney will very much have their eyes on the Croom vote in their respective election strategy.”

The Croom-based Independent councillor, who is personally funding his US trip, will also meet with members of the Limerick communities in Chicago and Washington. “There is a strong Limerick emigrant community in the US many of whom have established major businesses and played a major part in American commercial and political life. I have been invited to visit the Limerick communities in Chicago and Washington and will be looking to establish links and encourage as many people as I can to visit Ireland in 2013, as part of the gathering initiative.”