Hugh Boy O'Neill

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter XXI. ...continued

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In 1281 a sanguinary engagement took place at Moyne, in the county Mayo, between the Cusacks and the Barretts. The latter were driven off the field. The Annals say: "There were assisting the Cusacks in this battle two of the Irish, namely, Taichleach O'Boyle and Taichleach O'Dowda, who surpassed all that were there in bravery and valour, and in agility and dexterity in shooting."[5] There was a battle this year also between the Cinel-Connaill and the Cinel-Owen, in which the former were defeated, and their chieftain, Oge O'Donnell, was slain. This encounter took place at Desertcreaght, in Tyrone.

Hugh Boy O'Neill was slain in 1283. He is styled "the head of the liberality and valour of the Irish; the most distinguished in the north for bestowing jewels and riches; the most formidable and victorious of his tribe; and the worthy heir to the throne of Ireland." The last sentence is observable, as it shows that the English monarch was not then considered King of Ireland. In 1285 Theobald Butler died at Berehaven. After his death a large army was collected by Lord Geoffrey Geneville, and some other English nobles. They marched into Offaly, where the Irish had just seized the Castle of Leix. Here they had a brief triumph, and seized upon a great prey of cows; but the native forces rallied immediately, and, with the aid of Carbry O'Melaghlin, routed the enemy completely. Theobald de Verdun lost both his men and his horses, and Gerald FitzMaurice was taken prisoner the day after the battle, it is said through the treachery of his own followers. The Four Masters do not mention this event, but it is recorded at length in the Annals of Clonmacnois. They add: "There was a great snow this year, which from Christmas to St. Brigid's day continued."

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[5] Shooting.—Four Masters, vol. iii. p. 435. These champions appear to have been very famous. They are mentioned in the Annals of Ulster and in the Annals of Clonmacnois, with special commendations for their skill. The following year O'Dowda was killed by Adam Cusack. It is hoped that he is not the same person as "the Cusack" whom he had assisted just before.


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