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1580-1591] KIDNAPPING OF O'DONNELL
lough, and dropped anchor under the lee of the castle. The report soon spread that she was laden with Spanish wines. The captain landed his goods, and found many customers. He sent a special invitation to the castle, asking the old chief and his guests to come on board and enjoy the ship's hospitality. The invitation was accepted. MacSweeny and his friends, and with them young Hugh, rowed to the merchant
They were received right royally, and a glorious feast was spread before them. But ere the repast was over the captain left the cabin, the hatches were fastened down, the swords of the guests were cautiously removed, the anchor was weighed, and the ship sailed for Dublin. The merchantman was a government vessel sent by the viceroy to kidnap Hugh O'Donnell, so that he might be held as a hostage for the loyalty of his clan. Arrived in Dublin, Hugh was lodged in the castle. There he remained a close prisoner for three years, then, helped by friendly hands outside, and, it may be, by some friendly hands inside, too, he escaped, and, under the cover of the night, fled to the house of a Wicklow chief, Felim O'Toole. But the alarm was promptly given, the country was scoured, Hugh's hiding-place was discovered, and O'Toole was forced to send him back to Dublin.
Another year of close captivity passed, then, on Christmas night 1591, helped once more by friends without, and, probably, by friends within. Hugh filed the bars of his cell, swung himself to the ground by a rope deftly placed in his hands, and fled from the castle. This time he made good his escape, and, after many perils and adventures, reached Dungannon, and flung himself on the protection of Hugh O'Neil, Earl of Tyrone.
Henceforth, the history of Hugh Roe O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neil becomes one story.
Hugh O'Neil was born about 1540. He was the second child of Matthew, the illegitimate son of the first Earl of Tyrone. Matthew was, as we have seen, on the side of the English in the days of Shane O'Neil. Hugh was brought up in England, entered the English army, and, some time after the suppression of Shane's rebellion, was sent back to Ulster, and placed in possession of a portion of the lands of Tyrone. Whether he was ever sincerely on the side of the English may be a matter of doubt, but whatever were his real feelings, he certainly represented, and even fought for, English interests in Ireland during the early days of his career.
he fell in love with a beautiful English girl, Mabel Bagenal, sister of the English commander, Sir Henry Bagenal, who was then stationed at Newry. The girl returned O'Neil's affection, but Bagenal was strongly opposed to the marriage. He sent Mabel to Dublin under the charge of another sister, Lady Barnwell, but O'Neil was not to be foiled. He followed Mabel to her new home, and pressed his suit so successfully that she left her sister's house and married him in August 1591.
Bagenal was indignant at O'Neil's conduct, and he and the Ulster chief became sworn enemies ever after. When O'Donnell arrived at Dungannon in the December of that year, O'Neil took the lad cordially by the hand and resolved to save him. But Dungannon was not a safe resting-place. O'Neil, therefore, sent the young fugitive at once, under the escort of a troop of horse, to Maguire of Fermanagh, by whom he was conducted to Tyrconnell and placed in his father's arms.
The protection given by O'Neil to young O'Donnell was a turning point in the former's
His implacable foe, Bagenal, used it against him with the government, and warned the authorities that the Earl of Tyrone was no longer to be trusted. Still, for nearly two years more, O'Neil remained in the service of the English. But young O'Donnell, who, in May 1592, had, on the resignation of his father, been elected chief of his clan, was now in open rebellion, in league with Maguire. In the summer of 1594 the English took Maguire's castle of Enniskillen, butchered the garrison and occupied the town. But Maguire and O'Donnell besieged the besiegers; and on August 7 intercepted and destroyed a relieving party, leaving 400 English dead on the field. After this disaster the English garrison of Enniskillen capitulated, and were allowed to march out with the honours of war. O'Neil was now gradually becoming more and more disaffected, until at length yielding to the importunities of young O'Donnell, and thoroughly distrusting
the English on his own account, he resolved to throw in his lot with the rebels.
Early in 1595 he crossed the Rubicon, and made war on the government. previously the English had built a fort at Portmore on the Blackwater, commanding the entrance from Armagh to Tyrone. O'Neil began operations by seizing and dismantling this fort. He then dashed into Cavan and plundered the English settlements in that district, thence he advanced on Monaghan, and laid siege to the town. The garrison were placed in great straits, but succour soon came from Dublin, and Sir John Norris, commanding, the relieving force, contrived to evade O'Neil's army and to revictual the town. Norris then marched in the direction of Newry and fell in with O'Neil at Clontibret near Monaghan.
A stream separated the two armies, but Norris, placing himself at the head of his men, rushed into it, and struggled gallantly to force a passage to the other side. But O'Neil met him midway and drove him back. Again Norris advanced, and again he was driven back. Then a powerful English knight named Seagrave, seeing O'Neil in the centre of his officers, directing the manoeuvres, and inspiring all around him, dashed boldly at the Irish leader, and, in an instant, unhorsed him. But O'Neil at the same moment dragged his antagonist to the ground. Then fierce hand-to-hand encounter ensued, but the Englishman had the advantage, and O'Neil lay prostrate beneath him. It was a struggle of strength against skill,
but skill told in the end. For as Seagrave, holding O'Neil down by sheer force, had raised his weapon for a final blow, O'Neil parried the stroke and plunged his dagger into the heart of his foe.
Then placing himself once more at the head of his men, and shouting the war-cry of his clan, 'Lamh derg abu,' rushed on the English and swept them headlong from the field. The battle was fought and won.
O'Neil's victory was complete. The English fled in disorder to Newry, leaving much war material behind, and barely saving their general, who had been severely wounded.
The government now resolved to send another expedition to recapture Portmore, and to invade Tyrone. The expedition set out in the summer of 1595, under the command of Norris. In this crisis, O'Neil summoned O'Donnell, who had been harassing and ravaging the English settlements of Connaught to his support, and the young chieftain promptly obeved the summons.
The Irish took up a strong position near Portmore, and awaited the arrival of the English army. Norris came, surveyed the position, and decided not to attack. After remaining for a short time in front of O'Neil, he retired to Dundalk, and hostilities were subsequently suspended for the rest of the year, not, however, until O'Neil had destroyed Portmore, and burned Dungannon, lest either place should fall into the hands of the English.
During this period of truce, negotiations