21 Jan Origin of the Coat of Arms of the Creaghes
Percy F.S. Creaghe (1875-1949)
ARMS: On a silver shield 3 laurel branches proper in chief of blue – 3 golden besants. BESANTS were supposed to be derived from a plain flat gold coin. A besant found by the crusaders to have been currency at Byzantium.
CREST: A horse’s head with a bridle on and in the head band – a laurel branch – all proper natural colours.
When the three brothers of the Hy Niall – that is the Clan of the Northern O’Nialls – (O’Neils). Pierce, Patrick and James came with might of men and with arms to drive the Danes from the city of Limerick where they had firmly established themselves in the 10 Century. These three brothers are said to have been in command of the Irish Forces which in coming through the River Shannon fording the river drove the Danes from the ford and forced their way into the city through the Creagh Gate Waye and Lane – which is called after that name from that day to this – because of the green branches they wore in their helmets. Each man of the said party which was to know the men in battle.
The other account which in my opinion is much more likely to be correct seeing that the Creaghe and Creagh Crest is a Nag’s Head decked with a branch. Why should the horse’s head have been introduced if the branches had been worn in the men’s helmets – is that these same O’Nialls after defeating the Danes and driving them out of Limerick. On returning from the pursuit in triumph decked the bridles of their horses with green branches as a sign of Victory from which they were called O’Niall O Crasibhe – O’Niall of the Branch. The O’Niall was not used the name from being O’Cravibhe, or Creavh, became Anglicised into Creaghe who were thereafter notables of the City of Limerick (see Ferrars History of Limerick).
The First Mayor of the name was Jolin Russell alias Creaghe, Mayor of the city in 1216 and no other family except perhaps “Arthur” furnish so many chief Magistrates in the city.
Our Branch of the family in the 18 Century were evidently “Merchant Adventurers” – trading with and owning property in the West Indies – and a certain John Creaghe (my great, great, great Grandfather, P.F.S.C.) of whom more anon-acquired a considerable property in the County of Tipperary.
The Cork branch of the family appear to have left Limerick and settled in the city of Cork in or previous to the time of Edward III (1327-1377).
The actual early connection between the Dangan, Rheens, and Castle Park Creaghes and the Cork branches is quite impossible to trace after such a vast lapse of years. The late John Fitzstephen Creaghe, of the Rheens branch and also the late Sir Arthur vicars Ulster King of Arms and many others have spent years trying to connect the families with any degree of certainty but have failed. However, there is a connection in later times in the XVIII Century as I have shown in the Pedigree Chart of the Families.