John Creagh

John Creagh (born in Thomondgate, Limerick in 1870 - died in Wellington, New Zealand, 1947) was an Irish Redemptorist priest who is best known for delivering anti-Semitic sermons in Limerick in 1904 which incited riots against the small Jewish population in the city.[1]

In 1906, in the Philippines where he had been sent as a missionary, he had a nervous breakdown. A year later he was posted to Wellington. By 1914, he was in Australia and, in May 1916, when he was rector of the Redemptorist monastery in Perth and when the German Pallotine missionaries had been interned, was appointed vicar apostolic at Broome in the Kimberley region. He was parish priest at Bunbury (1923-5), Pennant Hills (1926–30) and Waratah where he suffered a stroke. After recovering from the stroke, he spent the rest of his life conducting retreats and preaching. He died at a monastery in Wellington.

While at Broome, Creagh and his brother acted against the white-oriented racial politics of Western Australia. In 1915, A. O. Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines argued that the Catholic mission at Lombadina should be closed because the property of 20,000 acres (8100 hectares) belonged to a Filipino from Manila, Thomas Puertollano, who was married to an Aboriginal woman and was technically employing the Aborigines. This was a breach of regulations as ‘Asiatics are not allowed to employ Aborigines’. When Creagh was appointed to the Kimberley region, his brief included safeguarding the mission from threats from the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries and Immigration. Creagh’s brother and a partner bought the land for £1100 and the lease was transferred from Puertollano to Creagh’s brother. Creagh thought highly of Puertollano, writing that he was "a man to whom I am under the greatest obligations. He was the former owner of Lombadina and for years he kept the Mission there going".

Creagh officially opened and blessed the Church of Christ the King in Beagle Bay, south of Lombadina, on the feast of the Assumption in August 1918. He was also involved in supporting the work of the St John of God Sisters in the Broome area. He obtained regular salaries for the Sisters at the Japanese Hospital and had the Sisters put on the staff of the District Hospital where they undertook night duty. Creagh also built a beach house for the Sisters at Broome, located a few miles from town where there was a good water supply. A vegetable garden was planted and goats and poultry were kept, tended by a family from Lombadina. This small farm enterprise helped to supply the convent with fresh produce. In the early 1920s, before leaving Broome, Creagh authorised the Sisters to launch an appeal to purchase more land and build a new convent.


External links

  • Ann Dolan, Irish Lives: John Creagh, Irish Times, 17 April 2010
  • Catholic Diocese of Broome
  • Deborah Ruiz Wall, "The Pigram Brothers: a top Aboriginal band talk about their Filipino heritage", Kasama 21(2), April 2007
  • Regina Ganter, "ISBN 1-920694-41-2, 2006
  • Dampier Peninsula Parish
  • Heritage Council of Western Australia, Register: St John of God Convent (fmr), Broome, 26 August 2009
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