Martin Cregan was born in county Meath in 1788 and became a leading portrait painter. He was raised by foster-parents named Creggan of Martinstown, Athboy. He later adopted their name and changed it to Cregan. Cregan was placed in the service of the Stewarts of Killymoon, Co. Tyrone who paid for his education in art. The Stewart who recognised his ability also paid for him to study in London. Cregan became a friend of some of the leading English artists including Constable. On his return to Dublin in 1822 Cregan established himself as a portrait painter. He became a founding member and the first secretary of the Royal Hibernian Academy, exhibiting about 300 paintings between 1826 and 1859.. Cregan became its president in 1832 and served for twenty three years despite some heated disputes in the 1850s. Cregan was regarded as the leading Irish portrait painter of his day. Cregan died at his home in Dublin in 1870.