John Creevy - John Fenton O'Creevy - Jack
John Creevy was born at Patrick Street, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath in 1892 and I believe John shows on the 1901 Census at 15 Patrick Street (South Side), Mullingar.
In 1911 he joined the Army and, within his army file, stated his next of kin lived at Gaybrook, Mullingar, naming them as follows:
Elder Sister: May
Younger Sister: Agnes
N.B. These may not be Creevy's or even related to Jack, and I can find no records for this family under any surname. The reference to the sisters being 'elder or younger' may refer to each other, or to John.
John enlisted at Athlone in 1911 using the alias George Smith, and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. After his basic training in Belfast, he was posted to Dover (1911) and Tidworth (1912) in England. At the age of 22 he was promoted to Sergeant, 5 days before his Battalion moved to France on 13th August 1914. John saw action at the Battle of Mons (Harmignies, Belgium) on the 23rd August 1914 and at the Battle of Le Cateau (Caudry, France) where he was wounded and captured on the 26th August 1914.
International Red Cross records show John, under the names George Smyth and Georges Harold Smyth, as a prisoner in Limburg (early 1915) before being transferred to Orb-Lettgenbrunn (30/04/1915).
This latter transfer was a direct result of Roger Casement's consternation at not being able to recruit as many Irish POWs into his proposed Irish Brigade as he hoped. The Irish Brigade were to be used to fight the British in Ireland. As a result, those Casement considered resistant to recruitment, or 'trouble-makers' who prevented others from recruiting, were all segregated and transferred from Limburg at short notice on 30/04/1915, being sent to other camps spread across Germany.
John appears to have not been long in Orb-Lettgenbrunn as he reappears in Giessen POW camp a few months later (09/1915) where he remained for 2.5 years. I assume he was in Giessen itself, though there is a possibility he was in a satellite camp administered through Giessen. All these POW camps were in Germany.
In February 1918 he was transferred from Giessen, and interned in neutral Holland for a year. This was via a scheme established to allow the transfer of prisoners from all sides to neutral nations ostensibly to prevent what was referred to at the time as 'barbed-wire fever' (possibly a form of what we would call PTSD today). Here John remained until February 1919 when he was finally repatriated to Ireland.
After returning to Ireland, initially it seems to Tullyhogue, Co. Tyrone in the North, as evidenced in his pension record, John was transferred to the Reserves and gave a contact address for "M. Quinn, 11 Patrick Street, Mullingar". He was discharged fully in December 1920 and received a small pension due to his Bronchitis and varicose veins.
In 1922 John returned to the South and enlisted into the National Army of the Irish Free State. He served with the Army School of Instruction at the Curragh for two years until August 1924, and when discharged gave his address as Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath. He was discharged with the rank of "BQMS" (Battalion Quarter Master Sergeant?) from Portobello Barracks, later renamed Cathal Brugha Barracks in May 1952.
At some point, probably 1925, John moved to England. He married Mary Teresa Murphy (whose father David Murphy was born in Queens County / Co. Laois, Ireland) in Manchester in 1926. They lived in Thorne, South Yorkshire before moving back to Manchester due to concerns about the number of deaths and accidents in the mines where he had been working. They had three children, Seán (1927 - 1991), Liam (1928–29) and Máire Teresa (1935 - 2002).
A recently discovered (2019) Deed Poll (of name change), shows that John officially changed his name from John Creevy to John Fenton O'Creevy in February 1974, six months before he passed away. John had been using this name for many years, and had also entered his father's name (upon his marriage certificate) as "John Fenton Creevy".
Official UK government letters, found along with the Deed Poll, suggest the UK Pensions office required John to clarify the variation between his registered birth name (John Creevy) and the name he used (John Fenton O'Creevy).
Jack, as he was known in his later years, died at his family home in August 1974, his wife Mary in September 1989. It is believed he did not keep in contact with his family in Ireland, did not return there once he had settled in England, and passed on little to no information about his Mullingar roots.
Research leads me to believe he descends from the John Creevy and Mary Cosgrave line, specifically their daughter Mary Creevy (1872 – 1930?), who later married (1898?) James Quinn (1876 - 1938) possibly becoming the “M. Quinn at 11 Patrick Street, Mullingar" referred to above. Mary apparently died in March 1930, James Quinn remarrying Bridget Tate/Tait in 1931.
This Creevy lineage was confirmed in 2020 via a DNA match to a new-found relative whose line can also be traced back to John Creevy & Mary Cosgrave.
If anyone has any further details to add concerning this Creevy / Cosgrave line it would be much appreciated.
The names Jack used or was known by...
• John Creevy 1892-1911 (Birth name)
• George Smith 1911-1914 (British Army alias)
• George Smyth 1914-1919 (Change in spelling whilst a POW)
• Georges Harold Smyth 1915 (Red Cross record entry, possibly by a French speaker)
• John Creevy 1919-1926 (Ireland and the Irish National Forces)
• John Francis Creevy 1926 (UK marriage certificate only)
• Sean Fenton Creevy 1927 (Seán's birth certificate only, probably an error)
• John Fenton O'Creevy 1935 (Máire's birth certificate)
• John Fenton Creevy / O’Creevy 1935-1974 (though legally, Jack was John Fenton O’Creevy only from when he officially changed his name, 14/02/1974 – 02/08/1974)
|Date of Birth||29th Apr 1892 (circa)||VIEW SOURCE|
|Date of Death||2nd Aug 1974|
|Associated Building (s)||Cathal Brugha Barracks|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||John|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Mary|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||Mary Teresa Murphy|
|Place & Date of Marriage||Manchester South - 2nd December 1926|
|Number of Children||3|
|First Child||Seán (1927)|
|Names of Children||Liam (1928–29) Máire Teresa (1935)|
|Place of Death||Longsight, Manchester|
|Imperial War Museums online memorial||UK||VIEW SOURCE|