Cregg / An Chreig
Compiled by Paul Greaney
Irish name: An Chreig
English name: Cregg
Meaning: the rock, rocky land.
Area: 234 acres, 2 roods and 15 perches.
Field Names: None yet recorded.
Information from O’Donovan’s Field Name Books
Other names: Cregg, Creag, Creg Castle, Creg (B. S. Sketch Map), Cregg (Barony Map), Creg (County Map), Cregg (High Constable 1838), Cregg (Inq. Temp. Gal. III.), Cregg (Inq. Temp. Iac. I.), Creg (Local), Creg Castle and Domain (Rector of Annaghdown).
Description: Francis Blake, Esq., Proprietor. All under tillage and is the greater part laid out as demesne containing the residence of the proprietor called Cregg Castle.
1841: 7 houses, 62 people (31 male, 31 female)
1851: 4 houses, 34 people (20 male, 14 female)
1861: 3 houses, 20 people (12 male, 8 female)
1871: 3 houses, 29 people (12 male, 17 female)
1881: 3 houses, 29 people (12 male, 17 female)
1891: 4 houses, 23 people (13 male, 10 female)
1901: 3 houses, 23 people (13 male, 10 female)
1911: 3 houses, 19 people (10 male, 9 female)
2011: 15 houses (incl. 4 uninhabited), 39 people (23 male, 16 female)
The following landholders are listed in the 1824 Tithe Applotment Books for Cregg, the property of P. Kirwan Esq.: Martin Kinneen, Martin Forde, Pat Murphy & Chs Evans, William Browne, Martin and Pat Browne, John Kilgarriffe, John Walsh, Richrd Walsh, John Forde.
1855 Griffith’s Valuation
Griffith’s Valuation records Hugh Meally and Johanna Meally each occupying a house, offices, and land, held from Richard Kirwan. The majority of the townland, Cregg Castle and Demense, was held in fee by Francis Blake who is recorded as occupier of a house, offices, and land.
Valuation House & Field Books
The July 1845 house book for Cregg records Francis Blake Esqr. as occupier of a dwelling, comprised of right and left wings, three returns, a gig house, stores, coach house and stables, office, barn and stables, two cow houses and a Gate Lodge. The October 1853 house book shows the same households as recorded in Griffith’s Valuation.
The 1901 Census of Ireland records the following three households in Cregg.
- John Keavy (70), gardener; Julia (70) [née Thornton]; Michael (36), gardener, married; Mary (32) [née Tyrrell], married; Patrick (6), John (5), scholars; Martin (3), Mary (1), and Honor (3 months).
- Helen C. Blake (60) [née French], land proprietress, widow; her granddaughter Louisa F. Blake (24), born in Wales; Malachy J. Ryan (62), steward; Honor Dooley (21), domestic servant; Biddy Brown (20), cook (domestic); and Peter Burke (20), stable servant.
- Thomas Melia (63), farmer, widower; his sons Michael (29), Martin (27), farmer’s sons; daughters Mary (23), Sarah (21), farmer’s daughters; sons William (17), James (15), scholars; and grandson Walter Cunningham (4) [son of Michael Cunningham and Julia Melia of Mary Street, Galway].
One of the houses [Cregg Castle] is recorded as a first class house, with a slate, iron or tiled roof, with 13 or more rooms and 22 front windows. The remaining two houses are both recorded as second class: one had a slate, iron or tiled roof with between two and four rooms and two front windows, while the other had a thatched roof, between two and four rooms, and three front windows.
Out-offices recorded at Cregg Castle were four stables, a coach house, harness room, cow-house, calf-house, dairy, piggery, fowl-house, boiling house, barn, turf-house, potato-house, shed, store, and cart-house. Other out-offices recorded in the townland a stable, cow-house, piggery, two fowl-houses, a barn, and a cart-house.
The following three households are recorded in 1911.
- Helen Blake (70), farmer, widow, born in Co. Dublin, married for 35 years with two children born alive and one still living; her granddaughter Louisa Blake (33), born in Wales; her cousin Malachy Ryan (72), steward; Peter Burke (29), domestic servant; Mary Lynch (20), domestic servant; Kate Neill (39), domestic servant; William Clancy (29), farm servant.
- Michael Keavy (49), gardener; his wife Mary (45) [née Tyrrell], married for 17 years with seven children born alive and six still living; and children Patrick (16), John (14), Martin (13), Mary (11), Honor (10), and Julia (8), all scholars.
- Thomas Melia (73), farmer, widower; his sons Michael (39), Martin (37), farmer’s sons; and daughter Sarah (27).
One of the houses [Cregg Castle] is recorded as a first class house, with a slate, iron or tiled roof, with 13 or more rooms and 25 front windows. The remaining two houses are both recorded as second class: one had a slate, iron or tiled roof with five or six rooms and three front windows, while the other had a thatched roof, between seven and nine rooms, and four front windows.
Out-offices recorded at Cregg Castle were two stables, a coach house, harness room, two cow-houses, a dairy, piggery, fowl-house, barn, turf-house, potato-house, workshop, laundry, and cart-house. Other out-offices recorded in the townland a stable, cow-house, two piggeries, a barn, two turf-houses, and a cart-house.
Note: Information in squared brackets has been added by the author and does not appear in the original record.
Cregg was constructed in 1648 and was the residence of the Kirwan family for about 150 years until it was leased to the Blake family in the early nineteenth century. According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the current house is comprised of the 1648 tower house at the centre, modified to a three-bay two-storey over half-basement, with a lower two-bay two-storey block added to the west end c. 1780, and a slightly lower three-bay three-storey L-plan block added to the east end c. 1870. A lower four-storey return block, at right angles to the rear of the middle and west blocks, completes the current house. Of particular note are the squre-headed timber transom and mullion windows of c. 1870 to the front elevation of the top floor and to the middle floor of the east block; and the round-headed doorway in the middle of the central block, with a double-leaf mid-eighteenth-century door with raised and fielded panelling and original brass knocker and doorknob. The outbuildings to the rear, constructed c. 1800, comprise a three storey block with with slate roof, rubble limestone chimneystacks and bellcote, and a lower two-storey outbuilding attached to the rear at right angles.
The Kirwan Family
The first of the family to live at Cregg was Patrick Kirwan, who was responsible for erecting the castle in 1648 and died at Cregg in 1679. He married Eliza D’Arcy. Their son Martin inherited the estate and married Eliza Bodkin. Cregg next passed to their eldest surviving son Patrick, who married Mary Martyn of Birch Hall c. 1702 and died after 1746. Their son Martin married Mary French and had four sons. The eldest son and heir, Patrick, died in a duel in 1756 and the property passed to his brother Richard Kirwan, LL.D., the scientist. He had entered the Jesuit novitiate in France in 1754, but returned to Ireland when he succeeded to the family estates. He died in Dublin in 1812. His nephew Patrick Kirwan appears to have taken over the estate at Cregg before then, and in 1803 he leased Cregg Castle and demesne to Francis Blake and went to live nearby at Baunmore. Francis Blake is reputed to have won Cregg Castle in a game of cards.
Patrick Kirwan was married to Lousia Margaret Browne, sister of Lord Oranmore, and their eldest son Richard Andrew Hycinth Kirwan, who was born at Baunmore House in 1813, inherited the remainder of the Cregg estate. He lived in Dublin, but his son Martin Oranmore Kirwan later came back to live at Baunmore, where he died on 17 May 1904. The Tuam Herald of May 28, 1904, reported that ‘…he was a considerate landlord, and highly esteemed by his tenantry, and his loss is mourned by all who knew his many virtues both in the city and county of Galway. The remains arrived in Galway from Baunmore on Saturday, en route for Dublin…‘ His nephew, Denis Agar Richard Kirwan, inherited the property and it was with him that the Irish Land Commission arranged the purchase of the lands on behalf of the tenants.