Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, b. at Limerick early in the sixteenth century; d. in the Tower of London, in 1585
Creagh, RICHARD, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, b. at Limerick early in the sixteenth century; d. in the Tower of London, in 1585. The son of a merchant, he followed the same calling in his youth and made many voyages to Spain. A providential escape from shipwreck led him to embrace a religious life, and after some years of study abroad he was ordained priest. Returning to Ireland, he taught school for a time at Limerick. He refused nominations for the Sees of Limerick and Cashel, but the papal nuncio, David Wolfe, determined to conquer his humility, named him for the primacy when it became vacant, and would accept no refusal. Creagh was consecrated at Rome, and in 1564 returned to Ireland as Archbishop of Armagh. Shane O’Neill was then the most potent of the Ulster chiefs. From the first he and Creagh disagreed. O’Neill hated England; Creagh preached loyalty to England in the cathedral of Armagh, even in his presence. O’Neill retorted by burning down the cathedral. Creagh then cursed him and refused to absolve him because he had put a priest to death. Shane retaliated by threatening the life of the primate, and by declaring publicly that there was no one on earth he hated so much, except the Queen of England, whom he confessed he hated more. In spite of all this, Creagh was arrested and imprisoned by the English. Twice he escaped, but he was retaken and in 1567 lodged in the Tower of London, and kept there till his death. From his repeated examinations before the English Privy Council his enmity to Shane O’Neill and his unwavering loyalty to England were made plain. But his steadfastness in the Faith and his great popularity in Ireland were considered crimes, and in consequence the Council refused to set him free. Not content with this his moral character was assailed. The daughter of his jailer was urged to charge him with having assaulted her. The charge was investigated in public court, where the girl retracted, declaring her accusation absolutely false. It has been said that Creagh was poisoned in prison, and this, whether true or false, was believed at the time of his death. His grand-nephew, Peter Creagh, was Bishop of Cork about 1676. He was imprisoned for two years in consequence of the false accusations of Titus Oates, but acquitted (1682), was transferred to the Archdiocese of Tuam in 1686. He followed James II to the Continent, was appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 1693, but was never able to return and take possession. He became Coadjutor Bishop of Strasburg, where he died (July, 1705).
E. A. D’ALTON