The Creaghe Family in Ireland - Creaghe Family Historical Society
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The Creaghe Family in Ireland

21 Jan The Creaghe Family in Ireland

Michael Barnett

The early history of Ireland was passed from mouth to mouth, because there was no written language until about 432 AD when St. Patrick arrived to convert the population to Christianity and Roman civilization. Thus the accuracy of the early years depended upon the tales by the narrators.

These extracts are mostly from the “Papers of Percy Fitzroy Seton Creaghe” (CV), which were written between 1930 and 1940, and are kept at Castle Blunden, in Kilkenny, Ireland, and reproduced by Michael Barnett with the kind permission of Lady Pamela Blunden and Helen Holmes (Creaghe), Percy’s daughter.

The family of Creaghe is of Milesian origin, according to the pedigree compiled from the “Saltar of Cashel”.

“About the time that Troy fell and Rome was founded, from Scythia through Egypt and Spain, with harp and battle axe and an advanced civilization, came that remarkable dynasty of Milesian chiefs, who for centuries formed its governing and enlightened class, moulding its institutions, and shaping its destinies.”

King Milesius was the grandson of Broeghan (or Brian), King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile and Portugal.

The Milesians invaded Ireland (Erin) from Spain around 1700 BC. The invading army was raised by Milesius to avenge the murder of his uncle Ith, who whilst on a friendly visit to Erin was slain by the Tuatha Danann (a tribe from Gaul, now Normandy). Milesius died before the invasion began, and his sons lead the army into Ireland. Five of the eight sons lost their lives during the invasion.

The two chief remaining sons of King Milesius were Heber and Heremon. They divided Erin amongst the family. Heremon was allocated the northern part, and Heber the southern part. The northeastern part was allocated to the children of his lost brother, Ir. The southwestern part went to Lughaidh, the son of his murdered uncle Ith.

Heremon had arguments with Heber and Amergin (the third remaining son), and both were subsequently slain by Heremon, who thus remained as the sole Monarch.

The Creaghes are descended from Heremon, Monarch of Leinster, who reigned 14 years Anno Mundi 2738 (AD 377). He was the second son of Milesius by his wife Scota, daughter of one of the Pharaohs of Egypt.

The line then goes through “Naill (O’Niall) of the Nine Hostages”, who established himself as King of Midhe (Meath) at Tara around 400 AD. This kingship is followed by many of his descendants, and lasted nearly five hundred years. The name arose from his strategy of taking a hostage of royal blood from each of his nine vassal states, to ensure obedience to his rule. One of these happened to be a man who escaped and later returned as St. Patrick. Niall died in a raid in France in 405 AD.

The Normans sacked the early settlement of Limerick in 812 AD, and made it the principal town of their kingdom, but by AD 945, the Danes were in possession of Limerick.

About AD 945 the O’Nialls, led by Brian Boru, rode south, and defeated the Danes, driving them out of Limerick. On returning from the pursuit in triumph they decked the bridles of their horses with green branches as a sign of victory from which they were called O’Niall O Crasibhe, meaning O’Niall of the Branch. The O’Niall was later dropped and the name became O’Cravibhe, or Creavh, and later again became Anglicised into Creaghe who were thereafter notables of the City of Limerick (see Ferrars History of Limerick).

There is still a Creaghe Gate in Limerick, which commemorates the event.

This victory is also commemorated in the Creaghe crest, which is “a horse’s (nag’s) head with a bridle on, and in the head band, a laurel branch”.

The Anglo-Normans arrived in Leinster in 1169/70, at the invitation of the ousted King of Leinster, Dermat MacMurrough. Earldoms were established in Kildare (Fitzgeralds) and Ormond (Butlers).

One branch of the family left Limerick, and settled in the Cork district. They dropped the e from Creaghe, and are now called Creagh.

Written Family History

Neither the Milesians nor the earliest Irish could write, and so records came down from word of mouth.

Our earliest ancestry records give us Nicholas Creaghe, who was born before 1675, in Limerick, Ireland.

Then through a Stephen Creaghe, John Creaghe, and to Richard Creaghe.

Richard was a Merchant of the City of Limerick, where the Creaghes had been established from the time of the expulsion of the Danes about AD 945.

Limerick in the 17th and 18th centuries was evidently the Bristol of Ireland, and carried on a large trade with North America and the Dutch West Indies. It would appear that Richard Creaghe was a prosperous merchant adventurer trading to the West Indies. We do not know if he lived out there himself. He lived originally in Limerick, and then may have gone out to St. Eustatius, where he may have laid foundations of the fortune of which his son had the handling.

Richard’s son John Creaghe was living on the Island of St. Eustatius, in the Dutch West Indies, for 30 years from 1758 to 1788, when he returned to Ireland. Before leaving the Island he sold all the property, which must have been considerable – all except two small plots in the Uppertown. He married in 1766 Anne Heyliger, of St. Eustatius, and St. Croix. She remained in the island until 1789, when having sold all her slaves and furniture, etc., she came to Ireland.

Most of the money made by John Creaghe (Richard) was spent in the purchase of The Burren Estate, on which Castle Park was built.

John’s son Richard Creaghe, born at Castle Park, was a military man. He was the 7th Princess Royals, Regt. Of Dragoon Guards.

Coronets Commission dated April 30, 1788

Lieutenants Commission dated June 30, 1791

He later joined other Regiments.

He was Deputy Lieutenant High Sheriff of the County of Tipperary from 1815 (D.L.). In 1793, he married Matilda Parsons, at Waterford, Ireland.

From local church records – Easter Vestry 1810

The Parishioners proposed that Mr. Richard Creaghe, of Castle Park, Golden be elected Church Warden, whereupon, the rector (Mr. Hare) stood up and objected as he considered he was not a proper person to be a church warden. “He did muster and exercise his Yeomanry during the hours of divine service on the Sabbath Day and also that he would report him to the Bishop of Cashel for his conduct.”

There is no account as to whether the Bishop upheld his objection.

Richard Creaghe D.L. and Matilda had 9 children, Elinor, John, Laurence, Anne Matilda, Francis, Anne, Richard Fitzroy Heyliger, Stephen William, and Elizabeth Mary.

Stephen William Creaghe married a Sarah Persse, and a granddaughter of theirs, Molly Casenert Persse Creaghe, married a Thomas Paterson Foster, and moved to New Zealand. Molly died on 15th July 1997 in New Zealand. Their daughter still lives in Auckland, New Zealand, while a son is a restaurateur in Sydney, Australia.

The third son of Richard Creaghe D.L. was Richard Fitzroy Heyliger Creaghe, born 28th June 1804 in Castle Park. He married Anna Maria Archer-Butler at Waterford in 1842. Her father was Piers Archer-Butler.

The Butlers first came from England to Ireland in 1171, with the Anglo-Norman conquerors, and this man became the “First Butler” in 1173. One of his descendants, Edmund Butler, was created the first Earl of Ormond before he died in 1321. A later descendant, James Butler, bought Kilkenny Castle, before he died in 1405. Thomas Butler, who died in 1614, was the 10th Earl of Ormond, and known as Black Tom. He fraternized and flirted with Queen Elizabeth I. Tom had three wives, and an illegitimate child, through whom the USA and Australian Creaghes are descended. There was a rumour at the time that the illegitimate child was in fact the son of Queen Elizabeth and Tom.

Of Richard Fitzroy Heiliger Creaghe’s children, two migrated to the United States of America, and two migrated to Australia.

Their first son, Richard Fitzroy Creaghe (Roy), was born on April 27, 1844. He married Mary Elizabeth Chetwood Vowell, daughter of George Foott, a solicitor of Dublin, on 19th September 1874.

Richard and his family moved to Sydney, Australia, to live.

Richard became an inspector of police ini Sydney.

Their second son, Harry Alington Creaghe, left Ireland in 1865, at the age of 16, and migrated to Queensland, Australia. He was given an outfit of clothing, one hundred pounds sterling and a first class passage to Morton Bay. In 1881 he married Emily Caroline Robinson, a daughter of Major George Cayley Robinson. Together, they explored the north of Australia, on horseback for three months. (See The Diary of Emily Caroline Creaghe – Explorer 1883).

Harry wore a signet ring with the family crest on it (a nag’s head with laurel branches). There was a superstition that if the ring were ever lost, the owner would die.

Harry lost the ring, and was killed by a horse on 6th August 1886 in Queensland.

Harry’s widow, Emily Caroline, married again, to Joseph Jupp Smallman Barnett, from whom the Sydney Barnetts are descended. Thus, although related by marriage, the Barnetts are not direct descendants of the Irish Creaghes.

Their third son Philip Crampton Creaghe stayed in Ireland, and had a son Percy Fitzroy Seton Creaghe, who compiled “The Creaghe Family in Ireland” (CV) from where much of this history has been extracted.

Their fourth son St. George Creaghe in 1872 migrated to Apache County, Arizona, in the United States of America, together with their sixth son Gerald Fitzroy Creaghe (Paddy).

St. George Creaghe became Sheriff at Springerville, Arizona, and Paddy Creaghe was a Deputy Sheriff. Paddy was ambushed and killed by Apache Indians at Ash Creek, Arizona, on 7th May 1880. St. George led a posse and wiped out that particular band of Indians.

St. George Creaghe married Sarah Bazan on 21st June 1877 in Springerville. Sarah was a descendant of a Spanish admiral, and living in America. They later moved to Lamar, Colorado, USA.

Their fifth son, John William Wentworth Creaghe, married Julia Rae, and had no children. He was a ship’s captain.

Their seventh son Percy Creaghe died at 13 years of age.

6 Comments
  • Katie Salcone
    Posted at 19:25h, 06 September Reply

    Thank you for the information. My Great Great Grandfather was St. George Creaghe. My Grandfather was Creaghe Gordon (his mother was a Creaghe) , he lived in Los Gatos Ca.
    This is definitely something I will be saving for my children!!

    • Stephen B. Creaghe
      Posted at 13:56h, 12 November Reply

      Katie,
      Thank you for your comment. Creaghe Gordon was my father’s youngest cousin. I met him at a family reunion in Denver in about 1997. He did a lot of work on the family tree.
      Unless you have a objection, I’ll put you on the list and you will receive notification of future posts.
      Thanks,
      Steve Creaghe

  • David Curtis
    Posted at 14:59h, 20 October Reply

    Interested to read about your visit to and research at Castle Blunden. Sir William and Lady Blunden invited me to stay when I visited Kilkenny in search o family history way back in the 1970s.

    • Stephen B. Creaghe
      Posted at 16:34h, 10 November Reply

      David,
      Thanks for your note. You may have heard that Lady Pamela passed away about two months ago.
      What family were you researching?
      Steve Creaghe

  • Joe hoare
    Posted at 14:44h, 29 March Reply

    My Great grandfather was pierce nagle creagh
    A descendant of sir Michael creagh one of the early Lord mayors of Dublin
    If anyone has any information it woul be much appreciated

    • Stephen B. Creaghe
      Posted at 14:35h, 17 August Reply

      Joe,
      Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. I have seen nothing in my research about the people you mention. The connections between Creagh and Creaghe families is blurry at best. Any connection that may have existed may have come the area around Ennis, Ireland. If I run across any thing, I’ll let you know.
      Steve Creaghe

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