Curran, Richard Creagh (1776–1847), lawyer, was born in Newmarket, Co. Cork, the second child and eldest surviving son of John Philpot Curran (qv), orator, lawyer, and parliamentarian, and Sarah (Creagh) Curran. Both parents were from Newmarket. In 1790 the family moved to the Priory in Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. Educated by a Mr Crawford, in July 1793 Curran went on to study at Trinity College, Dublin, becoming a scholar in 1796. There he became close to Robert Emmet (qv), but was also his friend's ‘academic rival for much of the following years’ (Geoghegan, 66). He most probably introduced Emmet to his younger sister Sarah Curran (qv), though he was not aware of their romance until after the failed insurrection of 1803. During the legal action his father took against his mother (1795), Richard was forced to give evidence of the latter's adultery in court.
In 1797 Curran entered the Middle Temple, and while in London during the 1798 rebellion was involved with the United Irishmen there. Having acted as secretary to Valentine Lawless (qv), he was arrested on suspicion of treason after the raid on the Royal Oak pub on 10 March 1799, but was released soon afterwards. The same year he was called to the Irish bar. When Emmet returned from the continent in October 1802 he reestablished contact with Curran and frequently visited the family home at the Priory, becoming secretly engaged to Sarah. When Emmet was arrested, letters from Sarah were found on him, though the authorities suspected they were coded and from a conspirator. They approached Curran on Sunday 18 September, the eve of Emmet's trial, and offered to suppress the lovers’ correspondence as evidence in return for a witness who would vouch for samples of Emmet's handwriting. No such witness was called, and Curran wrote an affectionate and forgiving letter to Emmet. Shortly before his execution, on 20 September Emmet wrote one of his final letters to Curran, a deeply moving expression of regret: ‘I find I have but a few hours to live, but if it was the last moment . . . I would thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generous expressions of affection and forgiveness to me’ (NLI 8079 (3); text reprinted in Elliott, 92–3; fragment reproduced in O'Donnell, 124). The letter ended by directly addressing Sarah.
Curran suffered a severe nervous breakdown after Emmet's execution. It was not until after some years that he recovered and returned to practising the law, and he remained under surveillance from the Castle authorities for some time. His relationship with a Mrs Henry Johnson, an actress of ‘great personal attractions’ (Madden, 544), resulted in his fleeing the country in 1807, after her husband attempted to sue him for damages. In the proceedings in the king's bench he was described as the deputy to his father in the rolls court. He settled in London, where on 31 July 1810 he married a wealthy widow, a Mrs Whysell of York Place. Soon after his marriage his nervous disorders returned and he was incarcerated in an asylum. Nothing is known of his later life. He died 11 December 1847.