Owen Roe O’Neill

Life
?1584-1649 [Eoghan Rua Ó Néill]; b. Co. Armagh, nephew of Hugh O’Neill; engaged in the Spanish Service for forty years; known as Don Eugenio O’Neill; served in Flanders; held rank of Colonel; returned to Ireland in 1642, sailing from Dunkirk with sons Henry, Bryan and Con, as well as O’Cahan, O’Byrne, O’Dogherty, Gerald Fitzgerald, and others, June 1642; reached Castledoe, Co. Donegal, and escorted by Sir Felim O’Neill with 1,500 men to Charlemont, where he was invested the Ulster command; became commander of native Irish forces in the Confederation of Kilkenny; defeated Robert Munro’s Scottish army at Benburb, 6 June 1646, the victory being celebrated by Pope Innocent X with a Te Deum Mass in Rome; combined with parliamentarians against royalist Presbyterians, Derry 1649; close ally of papal nuncio Rinuccini; died on his way to join forces with the Duke of Ormond; widespread belief that he had been assassinated by poison. ODNB DIB OCIL

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Criticism
John F. Taylor, Owen Roe O’Neill [Irish Library] (Dublin: James Duffy & Co. 1896), pp. vi. 249; J. I. Casway, Owen Roe O’Neill and the Struggle for Catholic Ireland (Philadelphia UP 1984), xiv, 353pp.; Edmund Leahy, Owen Roe O’Neill [Epochs of Irish History ser.] (Dublin: Irish Messenger 1919), 24pp.; Eoin O’Neill, Owen Roe O’Neill [Famous Irish Lives Ser.] (Dublin: Talbot 1936).

See also Micheál Ó Siochrú, God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland (London: Faber & Faber 2008).

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Commentary
Thomas Davis, ‘“Did they dare, did they dare, to slay Eoghna Ruadh O’Neill?’ / “Yest, they slew with poison him they feared to meet with steel.” / “May God wither up their hearts! May their blood cease to flow! / May they walk in living death who poisoned Eoghan / Ruadh! / / Though it breaks my heart to hear, say against the bitter words.” / “From Derry, against Cromwell, he marched to measure swords: / But the weapon of the Sacsanach met him on his way. / And he died at Cloch Uachtar, upon St Leonard’s Day.” (Citedin Oliver McDonagh, States of Mind, 1983, p.77, with comments).

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References
Booksellers: Hyland Books (Oct. 1995) lists O’Neill, Owen Roe O’Neill (1st edn. 1937). De Burca Books (Cat. 44; 1997), lists Jerrold I. Casway, Owen Roe O’Neill and the Struggle for Catholic Ireland (Philadelphia UP 1984), xiv, 353pp., [Micheline Walsh’s copy. Fine in dj.; £65.00].

Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast holds Edmund Leahy, Owen Roe O’Neill [Epochs of Irish History ser.] [4nd edn.; 25th thousand] (Dublin: Irish Messenger 1919), 24pp., ends with stanzas from Mangan’s trans. of “The Lament of O’Daly for Owen Roe”; Jerrold I. Casaway, Owen Roe O Neill and the Struggle for Catholic Ireland (Philadelphia 1984).

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Notes
To the letter of General Leslie expressing sorry that a person of his reputation and experience should come to Ireland for such a bad cause he replied: ‘He had more reason to come to relieve the deplorable state of his country, than Leslie had to march at the head of an army to England against his own King’ (from Casway; cited in De Burca Catalogue, 44; 1997.)

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