The Elizabethan conquest of Ireland in the early 1600s extinguished the rule of the O'Donnells of Tyrconnell (Tir Chonaill), leading to the plantation of Ulster. This is the first account of lost branches of their dynasty, descending from a largely forgotten scion, Donal Oge O'Donnell, only child of Sir Donal O'Donnell who was the eldest son and usurped heir of Sir Hugh Dubh Mac Manus, 23rd O'Donnell, King and Lord of Tyrconnell. Hugh Dubh ruled from 1567 to 1592 and married twice.
His children by his first wife, Nuala, a daughter of O'Neill, were eclipsed by the second, Maria or Inion Dubh, nee MacDonnell, who killed Sir Donal at Derrylaghan in 1590, thwarting his succession in favor of her own eldest son, Red Hugh, then in English captivity. Hugh Dubh died in 1600, and by 1601 both Red Hugh, who had escaped Dublin Castle, and his brothers Rory and Cathbharr and their nephew Donal Oge were engaged in the endgame of the Nine Years War. En route to Kinsale, Donal Oge undertook a side-expedition to Ardfert, spending several years in alliance with FitzMaurice, Lord of Kerry.
Rory succeeded Red Hugh and became the first Earl of Tyrconnell in 1604, but they and many others were exiled to the Continent in 1607 in the Flight of the Earls. Donal Oge then joined Spanish forces in Flanders, where he died in 1620. Hugh Dubh and his family were the last undisputed dynasts to rule effectively. Stripped of power, the nominal local headship of the clan reverted later to the genealogically senior line of his brother Calbhach, some whose descendants won fame and fortune on the Continent as dukes in Spain and counts in Austria.
History thus far obscured the survival of an older line of O'Donnell counts in France, who were known there as Chief of the Name and of the Arms. They became extinct in 1879, but their ostensible next-of-kin in Ardfert, trace origins in common back to a grandson of Donal Oge O'Donnell. His descendants, rebels in Ireland and Jacobites in France, later transitioned from military to civil service, at the highest echelons in the French Council of State.
They epitomized the principle noblesse oblige, in their pursuit of enlightenment, compassion, and public service.
|Publication date||30 Jan 2019|