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The History of Ulster
"Coming Events——"


Disputes and Agreements between Turlough Lynnagh and Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone - The Earl's Education in England - FitzWilliam interferes in the Disputes - "Sir Tir" wounded - "The Dutiful Old Knight" - Hugh Roe O'Donnell escapes from Dublin - Description of his Journey homewards - Art MacShane dies from Exposure.

The county of Tyrone had, it will be remembered, been divided between Turlough Lynnagh and Hugh O'Neill. That part of the county which lies north and west of the Mullaghcarne Mountains was retained by the former when in 1585 he agreed to take 1000 marks a year for the remaining portion. The lease was for seven years, but O'Neill had reserved and wished to exercise the power of taking back the territory in three, which expired at Michaelmas, 1588. FitzWilliam, who displayed an inclination to favour the Earl, obtained the remaining four years for him, on condition that he paid 300 fat beeves a year in addition to the rent. Between O'Neill and Turlough there was a continual warfare. In this Tyrone had the support of the Government, who did not recognize the danger of making him supreme in the north.

The father and grandfather of Hugh O'Neill had each met with a tragic end, the father being killed by Turlough Lynnagh, and the grandfather by Shane O'Neill. There was thus a blood-feud between the two chieftains. Hugh O'Neill was to all intents and purposes an Englishman. He had been taken care of and educated in England, had been taken to the Court by Sidney, and also had been given a troop of horse in the Queen's service. He served in the English army in the Irish wars, cooperated with Essex in the settlement of Antrim and the Ulster war, and was constantly commended for his zeal and loyalty in the Queen's service. He remained English in sentiment for a long period, and it is interesting to see this descendant of the old fire-eater Con, the first Earl, lamenting in his correspondence with Elizabeth the disinclination of his countrymen to order and civility, and deploring their barbarous preference for Celtic manners. He pleaded the necessity of attaching the natives to the English Government, and requested that, with reference to his own district, effectual steps should be taken to suppress the name of The O'Neill, as the first step towards the introduction of English laws and manners into the northern province.

Although in the Articles of Agreement referred to in the previous chapter Articles signed the 7th of June, 1590 a truce had been made between Turlough and the Earl, hostilities never ceased. The Articles contain the following significant passage: " In consideration that the Earl of Tyrone hath promised on his honour to observe and perform all these Articles, &c.; that Sir Turlough Lynnagh shall put in good pledges both for his loyalty to Her Majesty, and also to keep the peace with the Earl and all his country; that all other the Earl's neighbours bordering upon Tyrone may be wrought to this course prescribed to the Earl, to begin at one time, least Tyrone being brought under law may be spoiled or wasted by the lawless neighbours thereof".

Notwithstanding these Articles hostilities became more active. On the i8th June, 1591, twelve months after they had been signed, the Deputy writes: "I and my Council, being now but six, must be the last of this month (at Dundalk) for the ending of a great controversy between the Earl and Sir Turlough O'Neill, by reason of a fray fallen between them, imwhich the dutiful old knight, Sir Turlough O'Neale, was shot through the shoulder with a bullet, and stricken with a horseman's staff in the small of the back two grievous wounds; but (God I thank) will recover. I sent him a surgeon with a great deal of stuff for his dressing." Of course the Earl was in the right, and the Deputy strove to make what advantage they could of the difference. "In the quarrel between the Earl of Tyrone and Sir Turlough O'Neill it was complained that the Earl was altogether in fault, but upon examination (having them both here and at the Newry), it fell out that Sir Tir was therein far to blame. I and the Council have so ended these causes as they are both returned home with good contentment, and have given both their consents to have Tirone reduced to shire ground, and to accept a sheriff."

A new element was now introduced into the field of strife by the reappearance of young Hugh Roe O'Donnell, who, having been kidnapped by Perrot, had pined for some five years a captive in Dublin Castle, where he and his companions in misfortune " beguiled the time only by lamenting to each other their troubles, and listening to the cruel sentences passed on the high-born nobles of Ireland". His fellow-prisoners were hostages from all parts of the country, among them being Henry and Art MacShane, sons of Shane O'Neill. His interests had during his imprisonment been zealously looked after by that remarkable woman, his mother, Ineen Duive, who, when her husband's illegitimate son, Donnell (and therefore elder brother of Hugh Roe), attempted to seize the chiefry, raised a body of troops, in resisting whom Donnell was killed.

After an imprisonment of five years and three months Hugh Roe found means to escape. The story of his escape is best given by the Four Masters, who for this period may be considered contemporary writers; and it is, as Professor Richey says, especially interesting, as it enables us to gain an insight into the feelings of the native Irish.

"Hugh remained in imprisonment and in chains in Dublin . . . till the winter of this year (1592). He and his fellow-prisoners, Henry and Art, the sons of O'Neill, i.e. John, having been together in the early part of the night, got an opportunity of the guards before they had been brought to the dining-room, and, having taken off their fetters, they afterwards went to [the courtyard] having with them a very long rope, by which the fugitives descended until they reached the deep trench which surrounded the castle; they afterwards gained the opposite side, and mounted the side of the trench. There was a trusty servant who was in the habit of visiting them, to whom they had disclosed their intentions, and he met them at the time to direct them.

"They then proceeded thro' the streets of the city, and the gates of the city were open. They afterwards passed through intricate and difficult places until they arrived on the open plain of Slieve Roe (the Red Mountain, on the borders of Dublin and Wicklow). The darkness of the night, and the swiftness of their flight, through dread of being pursued, separated the eldest from the others, namely Henry O'Neill. However, they continued their progress, led on by their own man.

"The night was dropping snow, so that it was not easy for them to walk; for they were without outside coats, having left their upper garments in the sewer through which they had come. Art became more exhausted than Hugh; for it was a long time since he had been incarcerated. When Hugh perceived that Art was exhausted, he requested him to put one hand on his shoulder, and the other upon the shoulder of the servant, and they proceeded in that manner until they crossed the Red Mountain. After this they became wearied, and being unable to bring Art further, stopped under the shelter of a projecting rock. They sent the servant with word to Glenmalure, where dwelt Fiacha M'Hugh (O' Byrne) who was then at war with the English.

"That Glen was an impregnable stronghold, and a great number of the prisoners of Dublin, when they made their escape, were in the habit of proceeding to that glen, for they considered themselves safe there until they turned to their countries. Fiacha immediately summoned a number of his friends, whom he could rely on, to go to them, one with food, another with ale and mead. They accordingly proceeded, and arrived at the place where the men were. Having been completely covered with the snow, they found no life in their members, but they were as if dead. They took them up from where they lay and requested them to take some of the mead and ale ; but they were not able to do so, so that Art at length died, and was buried in that place.

"As for Hugh, he afterwards took some of the mead, and his faculties were restored after drinking it, except the use of his feet alone. The men then carried him to the glen which we have mentioned; and he remained in a private house, under care, until a messenger came privately to enquire after him from his brother-in-law, the Earl O'Neill. After the messenger had come to him, he prepared to depart; and it was difficult for him to go on that journey, for his feet could not be cured; so that another person should lift him on his horse, and take him between his hands again when alighting.

"Fiacha sent a troop of horse with him by night until he should cross the River Liffey, to defend him against the guards who were looking out for him; for the English of Dublin had received intelligence that Hugh was in Glenmalure, so that it was theiefore they placed sentinels on the shallow fords of the river to prevent Hugh and the preservers, who had fled along with him, from crossing thence into the province of Ulster. The men who were along with Hugh were obliged to cross a difficult deep ford on the River Liffey, near the city of Dublin, which they passed unnoticed by the English, until they arrived on the plain of the fortress. He was accompanied by the persons who had on a former occasion forsaken him after his first escape, Feelem O'Toole and his brother, in conjunction with the troops who were escorting him to that place; and they ratified their good faith and friendship with each other. After bidding him farewell, and giving him their blessing, they then parted with him there.

"As to Hugh O'Donnell, he had none along with him but the one young man of the people of Hugh O'Neill, who had gone for him to the celebrated glen and who spoke the language of the foreigners (English), and who was also in the habit of accompanying the Earl, that is, Hugh O'Neill, whenever he went among the English, so that he knew, and was familiar with every place through which they passed. They proceeded on their two very swift steeds along the direct course of the roads of Meath, until they arrived on the banks of the Boyne before morning, a short distance to the west of Drogheda; but they were in dread to go to that city, so that what they did was to go along the bank of the river to a place where a few fishermen usually waited, and who had a small ferrying corach (coracle, or small boat). Hugh having gone into the corach, the ferryman left him on the opposite bank, after giving him full payment; Hugh's servant having returned, took the horses with him through the city, and brought them to Hugh on the other side of the river. They then mounted their horses and proceeded until they were two miles from the river, where they saw a thick bushy grove before them, in the way which they went, surrounded by a very great foss, as if it were a strongly fenced garden; there was a fine residence belonging to an excellent gentleman of the English near the wood, and he was a trusty friend of O'Neill's.

"When they had arrived at the ramparts, they left their horses and went into the wood within the foss, for Hugh's faithful guide was well acquainted with that place; having left Hugh there, he went into the fortress, and was well received. They remained there until the night of the following day, and their horses having been got ready for them in the beginning of the night, they proceeded across Sleabh Breagh, and through Machaire Conaill (both in the county of Louth), until they arrived at Traigh-Baile-mic-Buain (Dundalk), before morning; as the gates of the town were opened in the morning early, they resolved to pass through it, and they proceeded through it on their horses until they arrived at the other side; and they were cheerful and rejoiced for having got over all the dangers, which had laid before them until then.

"They then proceeded to the Fiodh (the wood), where lived Turlough, the son of Henry, son of Felim Roe O'Neill, to rest themselves, and then they were secure, for Turlough was a friend and connection of his, and he and the Earl O'Neill were born of the same mother; they remained there until the following day, and then proceeded across Slieve Fuaid (the Fews mountains in Armagh), and arrived at Armagh, where they remained privately that night. They went on the following day to Dungannon, where the Earl, Hugh O'Neill, lived, and he was rejoiced at their arrival, and they were led to a retired apartment without the knowledge of any, excepting a few of his trusty people, who were attending them, and Hugh remained there for the space of four nights, recovering himself from the fatigue of his journey and troubles. After which he prepared to depart, and took leave of the Earl, who sent a troop of horse with him, until he arrived at the eastern side of Lough Erne. The lord of the country was a friend of his, and a kinsman by the mother's side namely .Hugh Maguire, who was rejoiced at his coming, and a boat having been brought to them, into which they went, they rowed from thence until they arrived at a narrow creek of the lake, where they landed; a number of his faithful people having gone to meet him, they conveyed him to the castle of Ath-Seanaigh (Ballyshannon), in which were the guards of O'Donnell, his father."

I have dwelt thus long on this account of Hugh Roe O'Donnell's escape, because it is an essentially attractive u human document", and the description of the journey fraught with so much good and evil for Ireland is particularly interesting when read by the light of Hugh Roe's subsequent career. The account given is of his second attempt to escape, his first having proved a failure. On that occasion the fugitive was accompanied by a few companions. They fled towards Slieve Rua, or the Three-Rock Mountain, and O'Donnell, becoming exhausted, was reluctantly forsaken by his companions, one of whom, Art Kavanagh, was recaptured the following year and hanged at Carlow. Hugh Roe was protected for a time by Felim O'Toole, chief of Feara Cualann, who resided in the district now called Powerscourt; but Felim's friends persuaded him not to jeopardize his own safety by retaining O'Donnell, and Felim accordingly made a merit of surrendering him. O'Donnell, as we shall see, became an important factor in the political life of his day, and his career was marked by his intense hatred of the English, a hatred which sprang from his bitter experience in being kidnapped and immured without any charge whatever, and despite the fact that the O'Donnells had been always devoted to the English interest.


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