The Creegan Name





From a registered and verified family name historian:


The Irish surname Cregan has two possible origins. While it is certain that Creegan (a variant of Cregan) of Connacht is an anglicized form of the Gaelic O’Croidheagain, it would appear possible that Cregan of Munster and Leinster is an anglicized form of MacRiagain. The prefix “O” in O’Croidheagain signifies “grandson of” or “descendent” and indicates patronymic origin of the name, while the first name is derived from the Irish word “croidhe”, meaning heart.


Another surname for which Cregan may occasionally be a synonym is Crean (or Creaghan), from the Gaelic O’Croidheain. The latter sept was a branch of the Cinel Eoghan (a population group descended from Eoghan, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland, A.D. 379, and which was located in Tyrone and South Derry) and the family was based in Donegal with a branch in Sligo. There is certainly no doubt that in north Connacht the surname Creegan, a variant of Cregan, is much confused with Crehan.


The Gaelic prefix which originally accompanied this name has, by now, largely fallen into disuse. In general, the prefixes “O” and “Mac” (son of), which incidentally date from the tenth century, tended to be discarded from the seventeenth century and, despite a rival of sorts in the late nineteenth century, under the auspices of the Gaelic league, a movement that did much to regenerate Gaelic culture, there are still, even today, a number of Irish surnames where the prefix is rarely, if ever, seen.


BLAZEN OF ARMS: Per pale argent and gules, a fox rampant of the field counterchanged between three hearts of the third, on a canton sable a hand couped at the wrist or, holding a sword proper entwined with snake vert.


CREST: A lion’s head erased gules.





Dr. Edward MacLysaght’s (1887-1986) on history of Creegan family of Names:


According to MacFirbis, O’Crean and O’Cregan are synonymous, Crehan again being a variant of Crean. In Irish Crean and Crehan are Ó Croidheáin (spelt Ó Craidhen by the Four Masters) and Creegan or Cregan is Ó Croidheagáin. These families formed a minor sept of the Cineal Eoghan belonging to Donegal, with a branch in the neighbouring county of Sligo. They are twice mentioned by the Four Masters as wealthy merchants, which is somewhat unusual in the Annals: in 1506 as of Co. Donegal: in 1572 as of Sligo. The Clongowes manuscript “The State of Ireland in 1598” gives them a higher status: the then head of the family was John O’Crean of Ballynegare, and in another place in the manuscript O’Crean of Annagh is stated to have been one of the leading families of Co. Sligo in the sixteenth century. According to the “Annals of Loch ” the Bishop of Elphin in 1582 was an O’Crean, but he was “removed” in 1584. Father Daniel O’Crean (d. c. 1616) of Holy Cross, Sligo, was Provincial of the Dominican order in a period of intensive persecution. The form Crehan is usual in Co. Galway; in Co. Mayo these are called Crean, Grehan and even Graham. Creegan alone of these variants can be said to belong now to Co. Sligo. Crean is mostly found to-day in south-west Munster, but families of the name in Kerry and Cork are in most cases Creen, recte Curreen, i.e. Ó Corraidhín. A further complication in regard to the name Crean arises from the fact that Ó Corráin, normally Curran in English, has become Crean in some places. The arms illustrated in Plate VI are those of O’Crean of Donegal and Sligo and do not belong to the Creans of Munster.