O'Neil's Defeat and Death

Justin McCarthy
Chapter IV | Start of Chapter

O'Neil seems to have proved himself skilful as a diplomatist, and he greatly gratified the Queen by paying intense deference to all her suggestions, and even by modestly requesting that she would choose a wife for him. He seems to have agreed to what he did not intend to carry out. Some terms were understood to be arranged at last, and on May 5, 1562, a Royal proclamation was issued declaring that in future he was to be regarded as a good and loyal subject of the Queen. Shane returned to Ireland, and made known to his friends that the articles of agreement had been forced upon him under peril of captivity or death, and that he could not regard them as binding. He went so far to maintain the terms of the treaty as to begin a war against the Scots, and sent the Queen a list of his captives in token of his sincerity. But he still insisted that he had never made peace with the Queen except by her own seeking; that his ancestors were Kings of Ulster, and that Ulster was his kingdom and should continue to be his. He soon after applied to Charles IX., King of France, to send him 5,000 men to assist him in expelling the English from Ireland. Then war set in again between the English Lord Deputy and Shane O'Neil. Defeated in many encounters, O'Neil again tried to make terms with the Queen, and again applied to the King of France for the help of an army to drive the English from Ireland and restore the Catholic faith. By this time the Scottish settlers in Ulster, who appear to have once been as much disliked by the English Government as the Irish themselves, had turned completely against him. His end was not in keeping with his soldierly and picturesque career. After a severe defeat he took refuge with some old tribal enemies of his, who at first professed to receive him as a friend and find a shelter for him. A quarrel sprang up at a drinking festival during the June of 1567, and Shane and most of his companions were killed in the affray.