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An Irish Prisoner of Conscience of the Tudor Era
Archbishop Richard Creagh of Armagh
Colm Lennon

The Furrow
'Colm Lennon's biography of Richard Creagh is a fascinating account of a key figure in the Irish Counter-Reformation. Lennon's work is welcome because while a considerable amount of historical research has been done on the period, relatively few biographies of the individuals involved have been published.

A biography of Creagh gives an insight into the period as a whole. This is because he straddles so many aspects of sixteenth-century Ireland. He was from an urban anglicized mercantile milieu and shared its enthusiasm for spreading the sociocultural standards of the borough, as well as religious reform, to rural and Gaelic Ireland. Yet he was also conscious of his family's roots in Gaelic Ireland and was a fluent Irish speaker who appears to have made the first attempt to treat Irish in a comparative linguistic manner. He was loyal to the English monarch and yet had a developed sense of Ireland as his patria. Creagh was a committed Counter-Reformation cleric who placed great emphasis on education, while at the same time he was willing to adapt Tridentine norms to the Irish situation. Lennon's account of Creagh's life proceeds in a chronological manner. The final chapter examines how the archbishop's life was subsumed within a hagiographical tradition as martyr and a model Counter- Reformation bishop. He draws on various sources but in particular he combines material gleaned from Rome and from English State Papers to good effect. The book is an enthralling read for anyone interested in Irish Church history' Gerard Cryan, The Furrow.

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