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A Cambro-Hibernian Alliance: Maria Jane Williams and Thomas Crofton Croker Delivered at the One Hundred and Fortieth Annual Summer Meeting at Portlaoise, 1993 By Morfydd E. OWEN, M.A. When I was given the very great honour of being your President I suspect that it was chiefly because I had spent two years of my student life in Dublin and profess a certain interest in Irish Antiquities. Most presidential addresses delivered at Cambrian Meetings in Ireland have concerned themselves with relations between Ireland and Wales in the early period of those countries' history and I think that that was probably what was expected of me. I apologise for not conforming to that expectation and for returning to my grass roots and to a childhood spent on the northern edge of the Glamorgan coal basin close to the Brecknockshire border in the company of a grandfather,' who sang to me Y Fcrch o Bhi>y Peudcryn, who enthralled me with tales of fairies, giants and pwca and who showed me the ruins of tai unnos and fairy rings, and to explore instead an episode where two people important in the history of Irish and Welsh folk tradition came together and influenced each other's work. They were a Cork man named Thomas Crofton Croker and a woman from the Glamorgan-Brecknock border named Maria Jane Williams. In this address I shall consider who these people were, what they did and the significance of their activities in the development of the study of the oral traditions of their respective countries. Let me be courteous to our hosts and begin with the Irishman. Thomas Crofton Croker was born in Cork at the house of his maternal grandfather in 1798.2 His mo- ther's maiden name was Maria Dillon and she was the daughter and co-heir of Croker Dillon of Baltidaniel. The Dillons belonged to old landed gentry stock who had flour- ished on the security won in the glorious revolution in the late seventeenth century. Thomas Crofton Croker's father Major Thomas Croker belonged to the 38th Regiment of Foot and had served in the Dutch and American wars. He was a member of a distinguished Protestant English family who had lived in Ireland from Elizabethan times.3 Cork in the early nineteenth century was undergoing a period of transition. The presence of the English fleet in Cork harbour and the development of the butter market and of breweries meant that the city became the chief provender port of the British forces. By the time of the Napoleonic wars the city was bustling with bourgeois prosper- ity. Families such as the Crawfords and the Beamishes (whose stout was recently made famous in the Inspector Morse television series) were eminent. In this era of economic prosperity cultural activities also flourished. Cork was known as the 'Athens of the South', the opera house was founded and art exhibitions were held. Although the bourgeois society of Cork was primarily English in its language and culture, the Irish