Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Creagh, Richard

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CREAGH, RICHARD (1525?–1585), catholic archbishop of Armagh, called also Crvagh, Crewe, and in Irish O'Mulchreibe, was born about 1525, being the son of Nicholas Creagh, a merchant of the city of Limerick, and Johanna [White], his wife. Having obtained a free bourse from the almoner of Charles V, he went to the university of Louvain, where he studied arts as a convictor ‘in domo Standonica,’ and afterwards theology in the Pontifical College. He proceeded B.D. in 1555.

In or about 1557 he returned to Limerick, and in August 1562 he left that city for Rome by direction of the nuncio, David Wolfe. At this period he had a strong desire to enter the order of Theatines, but the pope dissuaded him from carrying out his intention. On 23 March 1563–4 he was appointed archbishop of Armagh. In October 1564 he reached London. Towards the close of that year he landed in Ireland, probably at Drogheda, and almost immediately afterwards he was arrested while celebrating mass in a monastery. He was sent in chains to London and committed to the Tower on 18 Jan. 1564–5. On 22 Feb. he was interrogated at great length by Sir William Cecil in Westminster Hall; and he was again examined before the recorder of London on 17 March, and a third time on 23 March. On the octave of Easter he escaped from the Tower and proceeded to Louvain, where he was received with great kindness by Michael Banis, president of the Pontifical College. After a short stay there he went to Spain, and about the beginning of 1566 he returned to Ireland. In August that year he had an interview with Shan O'Neil at Irish Darell, near Clondarell, in the county of Armagh.

On 8 May 1567 he was arrested in Connaught, and in August was tried for high treason in Dublin. Though acquitted, he was detained in prison, but he escaped soon afterwards. Before the end of the year he was recaptured, sent to London, and lodged in the Tower, where, after enduring severe privations, he died on 14 Oct. 1585, not without suspicion of poison.

He wrote:

  1. ‘De Linguâ Hibernicâ.’ Some collections from this work are among the manuscripts in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.
  2. An Ecclesiastical History. A portion of this work was, in Sir James Ware's time, in the possession of Thomas Arthur, M.D.
  3. A Catechism in Irish, 1560.
  4. Account, in Latin, of his escape from the Tower of London, 1565. In Cardinal Moran's ‘Spicilegium Ossoriense,’ i. 40.
  5. ‘De Controversiis Fidei.’
  6. ‘Topographia Hiberniæ.’
  7. ‘Vitæ Sanctorum Hiberniæ.’

[Brady's Episcopal Succession, i. 220, ii. 336; Brenan's Eccl. Hist. of Ireland, p. 416; Lenihan's Limerick, p. 117; Moran's Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 38–58; O'Reilly's Memorials of those who suffered for the Catholic Faith in Ireland, pp. 88–116; Rambler, May 1853, p. 366; Renehan's Collections on Irish Church Hist. i. 9; Rothe's Analecta, pp. 1–48; Shirley's Original Letters; Stanyhurst's De Rebus in Hiberniâ gestis; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 208; Ware's Writers of Ireland (Harris), p. 97.]

T. C.