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honour and glory. He had played a game of diplomacy with the greatest diplomatists in Europe, and had won all along the line
Shane was now, practically, King of Ulster. Sussex, routed in the field, and out-manæuvred in negotiations, tried to get Shane into his hands and lock him up in Dublin Castle. Shane was bound by his arrangements with Elizabeth to visit Dublin to take the path of allegiance. Sussex wrote to Elizabeth to ask if he might not imprison Shane on the chief's arrival. But Shane did not arrive. With characteristic adroitness he informed Sussex that in the present disturbed state of Ulster his duty to the queen obliged him to remain at home. Sussex next expressed his willingness to give his sister in marriage to Shane if Shane would come to Dublin to woo the lady Shane said that he was ready to marry the lady if she were sent to him ; but his duties to his sovereign made it impossible for him to leave Ulster.
Shane maintained order in Ulster with a strong hand. He put down the petty chiefs, and tried to set up a vigorous central government. But Sussex never ceased to plot against him, and to use all the influence he could command to persuade Elizabeth to wage war on the great Ulster chieftain. Elizabeth, much puzzled, at length gave Sussex carte blanche, and Sussex once more prepared to invade Ulster, having previously aroused Shane's old enemies, the O'Donnells and MacDonnells, to turn on him once more.
1563-1565] ATTEMPT TO POISON SHANE
In April 1563, Sussex marched into Ulster. But the expedition was an utter failure. Shane had his province so well in hand that not a single chief joined Sussex, and the lord-deputy returned to Dublin, declaring that, 'to expel Shane was a Sisyphus labour.'
Elizabeth now wrote to Sussex, saying that she 'had decided to end the war in Ulster by agreement rather than by force,' and urged that Shane should be left in peace. Beaten at every turn, Sussex once more used
of the coward. He tried a second time to assassinate Shane. He sent him a present of poisoned wine. Shane and his household were brought to death's door; but no one died. The Ulster chief fiercely demanded redress for this outrage. Elizabeth expressed the greatest indignation. Efforts were made on all hands to appease Shane, and Shane finally forgot the transaction. He was now, for a season, left in peace monarch of Ulster. But his antipathy to the foreigner remained. In this hour of truce, he built a castle on Lough Neagh, and called it . Fuath na Gall' (hatred of the stranger).
The Earl of Sussex,' says Mr Froude, ‘having failed alike to beat Shane O'Neil in the field or to get him satisfactorily murdered, was recalled.'
There is some reason to think that Shane now contemplated making himself sovereign of all Ireland. Having, in 1565, easily defeated the Scots, who gave him some trouble in Ulster, he next marched southwards, seizing the English castles of Newry and Dundrum, and finally invading Connaught, to receive the triball due of old time to them that were kings in that realm.'
In December 1565, Sir Henry Sydney, who had again become lord-deputy, now prepared to send an expedition against Shane. Negotiations were, however, first opened with him. But Shane was in no temper for negotiations now. Stukeley, an English counsellor, warned him that, if he were not submissive, he would never succeed to the earldom' of Tyrone or stand well with the queen. Shane replied,
'I care not to be made an earl, unless I may be better and higher than an earl, for I am, in blood and power, better than the best of them; and I will give place to none but my cousin of Kildare, for that he is of my house. For the queen, I confess she is my sovereign ; but I never made
peace with her but by her own seeking. Whom am I to trust? When I came to the Earl of Sussex on safe conduct, he offered me the courtesy of a handlock.
When I was with the queen, she said to me herself that I had, it was true, safe conduct to come and go; but it was not said when I might go, and they kept me there till I had agreed to things so far against my honour and profit that I could never perform them while I live.
That made me make war, and, if it were to do again, I would do it. My ancestors were kings of Ulster, and Ulster is mine and shall be mine! O'Donnell shall never come into his country, nor Bagenal into Newry, nor Kildare into Dundrum Lecale. They are now mine ; with this sword I won them ; with this sword I will keep them.'
DEFEAT OF SHANE
Sydney was alarmed, and wrote to Cecil, saying,—'Ireland would be no small loss to the English crown, and it was never so like to be lost as now.
O'Neil has all Ulster; and, if the French were so eager about Calais, think what the Irish are about their whole island. I love not war; but I had rather die than Ireland should be lost in my government.'
Sydney and Cecil now urged Elizabeth to declare war against Shane. She hesitated for a time, but finally yielded to the importunities of her advisers.
In 1566 Sydney marched into Ulster. Shane advanced to meet him. Two pitched battles were fought before Dundalk and Derry, both of which towns were held by the English. Shane was defeated in both engagements, though the victory at Derry was dearly bought by the death of the English general.
Shane now retreated to his own borders, whither Sydney did not dare to pursue him. For nearly fifteen years the redoubtable Ulster chief had held his own against all the forces which England had brought against him. But he was destined, in the end, to fall by the hands of the Scots of Antrim. In 1567 the O'Donnells, stirred up by Sydney, invaded Tyrone, and ravaged the country. Shane retaliated by marching into Tyrconnel.
In May, a pitched battle was fought by the rival clans on the west bank of the Swilly, near Lifford. Shane bore himself throughout the day with characteristic prowess; but before night fell the army of the O'Neil's was annihilated, and
their chief chased from the field with but a handful of followers.
In this plight he threw himself on the protection of the Scotch settlers of Antrim—the
acDonnells. He came to their camp at Cushenden, accompanied by a guard of only fifty men. They received him with professions of friendship and hospitality; but, in the midst of an evening's carousal, some pretext of quarrel was seized, and the doomed chief and his retainers were massacred to a man. His body was flung into a pit; but the English commander of Castlefergus carried the head to Dublin, where it was hung from the ramparts of the Castle.
So perished Shane O'Neil, the fiercest and subtlest foe that ever faced the English in Ireland.
1 It cost the government nearly £2,000,000 to crush Shane O'Neil.