Creggan, County Armagh

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County Armagh
Creggan Church of Ireland. - - 547077.jpg
Creggan (C of I) Parish Church
Grid reference: H933160
Location: 54°5’4"N, 6°34’30"W
Local Government
Council: Newry, Mourne and Down

Creggan is a small village and townland near Crossmaglen in County Armagh. The 2001 Census recorded a population of just 246 people.

About the village

On the banks of the River Creggan overlooking the rolling green hills of South Armagh stands Church of Ireland Creggan Church and graveyard. This is now a listed historical building and the grounds are surrounded by an ancient stone wall: her old gravestones stand in stark contrast to the small cluster of modern houses just beyond those walls.

In Creggan Churchyard, near Crossmaglen, lie some of Ireland's best known Gaelic poets. The current Church of Ireland church dates back to 1731 but there is evidence to suggest an earlier pre-Reformation church preceded it. This is the burial place of three 18th century Irish poets: Art MacCooey, Pádraig Mac Aliondain and Séamus Mór MacMurphy.

This is also a burial place of the clan O’Neill, specifically the O’Neills of Tyrone, whose chief attempted to retake South Armagh from the invading English during the middle of the 15th century. The burial place was re-discovered in 1971 during a cleanup of the cemetery for the proposed bi-centennial celebrations of Art MacCooey. It is reputed the O’Neills arrived in Creggan in 1447 and the burial place currently contains approximately 70 skulls.


According to local folklore Creggan dates back to the 14th century. A congregation of mourners nearby were lowering their deceased loved one into the ground at Killyloughrain when they heard a distant tolling bell. This was read as a sign from God and they followed to the source of the ringing. It was here they buried their dead and that place, Creggan, became hallowed and the site of their Church.

The present Church is believed to have been built in 1758 with the tower being added in 1799. The building itself might incorporate part of an earlier pre-Reformation Church. The O’Neill Vault is believed to have been situated under the altar of the latter.

Now the vault lies outside the present Church building.

On 10 April 1921, during the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Republican Army ambushed a five-man Royal Irish Constabulary patrol in Creggan. The policemen had been called to investigate unusual activity at a public house, but were attacked by a fifteen-strong IRA unit. One policeman was killed and two were wounded.[1]

Outside links

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about Creggan, County Armagh)