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Owen Roe O'Neill

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Owen Roe O'Neill.

Eoghan Rua O'Neill
( c1590 - 1649)

Owen Roe O'Neill's father was Art O'Neill younger brother of Hugh O'Neill, he was educated in Spain and served in the army of that country. He formed his own regiment and distinguished himself in Spain's war against France, one of his French opponents said that he had 'Surpassed us in all things save for good fortune.'

When the 1641 rebellion broke out in Ireland, Owen Roe O'Neill arranged his release from the Spanish army, and set sail for Ireland arriving in Lough Swilly, County Donegal in July 1642. He joined his cousin Sir Phelim O'Neill and became general of the Ulster force.

The Anglo-Normans sometimes referred to as the Old English, joined the native Irish in 'The Confederation of Kilkenny' throwing their weight behind Charles I as his dispute with parliament turns into civil war. In November 1642 O'Neill took the confederacy oath and received supplies to fight General Monroe a Scottish general leading the parliamentary forces.

The Old English favoured a political settlement with the King's deputy the Earl of Ormond, the native Irish anxious to regain their confiscated land favoured removing the Protestant settlers. O'Neill inflicted a crushing defeat on Munroe at Benburb in County Tyrone, it was the first Irish victory in a formal pitched battle, however O'Neill failed to follow up this success.

The papal nuncio in Ireland was Cardinal Rinuccini, O'Neill was heavily influenced by him. Rinuccini rejected a peace offer from Ormond which was favoured by the Old English. Thomas Preston's leadership in Leinster proved to be ineffectual and inept, after disagreeing with Preston O'Neill abandoned a siege on Dublin and Ormond surrendered it to the parliamentary forces, which resulted in further defeats on Preston and the confederate army in Munster.

When Oliver Cromwell arrived in Dublin with his army of 20,000 O'Neill was inspired again to defend his religion, on his way to join with the forces of the Earl of Ormond, he died in Cloughoughter Castle, Lough Oughter County Cavan on 6th November 1649.

The traditional inauguration site of the O'Neills was Tullaghoge Fort in County Tyrone.

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