O'Crean, Andrew (d. 1594), catholic bishop of Elphin and prior of Sligo, bore the name of a family of Cinél Eoghain, who by the sixteenth century had settled in Sligo. Members of his family were prominent merchants at the port of Sligo, where the fish trade was the lucrative industry. The O'Creans were second only to the O'Connors Sligo, and with them had learned to survive and thrive between the two most powerful lordly dynasties contending for control of the area, the O'Donnells of Tyrconnell (north-west Ulster) and the MacWilliam Burkes of Lower Connacht. As prior of Sligo abbey, Andrew O'Crean may have been educated in Spain. He belonged to the most important of five Dominican houses (Sligo, Roscommon, Ballindoon, Cloonshanville and Tulsk) in the extended diocese of Elphin, stretching from Sligo to Athlone.
In 1551 Roland Burke, papally appointed bishop of Clonfert (1534), was nominated anglican bishop of Elphin by Edward VI for political reasons. He had obtained the temporalities of Elphin several years before, but the unpopular incumbent, the Augustinian bishop Bernard O'Higgin (qv) (1542–61), did not quit Ireland for exile in Portugal until about 1554. O'Crean largely owed his promotion to Elphin to the pragmatic judgement of the Jesuit David Wolfe (qv), who described him as greatly esteemed by the laity, not so much for his learning as for his amiability and holiness. He also had the vital local support of the Gaelic Irish lords and merchants, which his predecessor had lacked.
In late 1561 O'Crean set out for Rome with his fellow Dominican Eugene O'Hart (qv), to secure his appointment to Elphin. While passing through France he fell ill. He was made bishop of Elphin in the same consistory (28 January 1562) that nominated O'Hart to Achonry; he returned to Sligo without participating in the final sessions of the Council of Trent (1562–3), and, on arriving home, designated the Dominican church his cathedral. In 1566, together with O'Crean and Redmond O'Gallagher (qv), bishop of Killala, O'Hart convened a provincial synod for Connacht, in which the decrees of Trent, dogmatic and disciplinary, were promulgated as normative for catholic life, particularly determining the criteria for the validity of sacramental marriages and the banning of clandestine ones.
Before O'Crean's episcopacy began there was already a conflict of ecclesiastical jurisdictions, complicated by perennial territorial rivalries in Connacht. It has been suggested that O'Crean's active government did not extend outside the northern portion of Elphin, where he had the assured support of his kinsmen and probably that of the O'Connors, while Roland Burke (qv), who though he was the anglican nominee was a catholic by conviction, exercised more than nominal control over the rest of the diocese, strongly supported by the Upper MacWilliam Burkes. O'Crean lived mostly with the Dominicans of Sligo abbey, who, through the influence of Domhnall Mór O'Connor Sligo (qv), enjoyed comparative security and tranquility. O'Crean was left undisturbed by his episcopal counterpart or by sporadic attempts on the part of the government to introduce anglicanism. When Lord Deputy Sidney visited Sligo in October 1566, he remarked how he was met by O'Connor Sligo and the bishop (O'Crean) ‘offering service and fealty to your majesty and all courtesy to us’ (M. V. Ronan, The reformation in Ireland under Elizabeth 1558–1580 (1930), 191). Archdeacon John Lynch (qv) of Tuam was aware of two papal briefs (5 June 1575 and 13 August 1579) addressed to O'Crean but did not comment on their content. Bishop Burke's death in 1580 may have prompted O'Crean to assert full jurisdiction over the whole diocesan territory of Elphin, especially in the matter of the temporalities retained by Burke.
In 1582 O'Crean sought some form of recognition from, or accommodation with, the Dublin government. It would appear that he was seeking, and received, confirmation for control of the diocesan revenues, accepting them as the gift of the crown. There was no hint that O'Crean was temporising or that he complied externally with Elizabethan religious policy, as Roland Burke had done. It is on record that he consistently refused to take the oath of supremacy; so the appointment (1582) of Thomas Chester as Elizabeth's bishop of Elphin (1582–3) speaks for itself. O'Crean was responsible for the erection of a marble cross (leacht an easpaig) in Sligo town. He zealously promoted the implementation of the Tridentine reforms in Elphin and through quiet diplomacy reasserted the catholic episcopal administration of the diocese without compromise or vacillation. Bishop O'Crean died in 1594.