Presentation Given at Flight of Earls Conference

May 5, 2007,  Rathmullan, Co Donegal

The O'Donnells and the Crown, 1603-1607

The Tir Chonaill lordship following the end of the Nine Years War in 1602/03 was a fractured community following a very bitter end to the war in Co. Donegal. This was especially true of the ruling O'Donnell family, members of different branches of the clan having been personally killed at the hands of dynastic rivals. As a result there were many O'Donnell factions in post-war Tir Chonaill with widely differing attitudes to the English Crown. These attitudes ranged from a realistic acceptance that the war was lost, manifested in a grudging loyalty and a genuine attempt to make post-war relationships work to other O'Donnells who pursued a fine line between acceptable behaviour and outright rebellion.

From 1603 the English Crown was dealing with the newly created Earl of Tirconnell, Rury O'Donnell, and his immediate family. This branch of the O'Donnells had been the ruling dynastic segment in the Tir Chonaill lordship since 1566. However it was supported by people who had remained loyal right to the end to Rury's brother Red Hugh O'Donnell who had almost won the Nine Years War and replaced English over-lordship over Tir Chonaill with that of the king of Spain. Rury and his brother Caffar were the only male members of this branch of the family to survive the war. However, the female members of this branch of the O'Donnells such as Earl Rury's mother Ineen Dubh were formidable figures in Tir Chonaill society although Ineen Dubh's heart seems to have been broken by Red Hugh's death in Spain in September 1602.

There were many other noble branches of the O'Donnell family. Rury's granduncle Hugh McHugh Dubh O'Donnell led the O'Donnells of Rathmelton. By 1603 Hugh McHugh Dubh was quite elderly, being over sixty years of age. However, he was the son of a lord of Tir Chonaill and had once been tanaiste of Tir Chonaill. After 1603 he retained possession of Rathmelton Castle and the tanaiste' s portion of the O'Donnell lordship, which lay in the surrounding territory of Clanelly. By this time Hugh McHugh Dubh's eldest son Caffar O'Donnell was beginning to take over the running of the affairs of his family although a second son Sean was also prominent.

The O'Donnells of Castlefinn were bitter rivals of Earl Rury's branch of the family. They were led by Rury's second cousin Niall Garbh O'Donnell who was the grandson of a previous lord of Tir Chonaill. Niall Garbh controlled a very large estate in Glenfinn totalling forty-three quarters of land or 12,900 acres, and he led a large extended family, the most prominent of whom after the war were his younger brothers Hugh Boy and Donnell.

Earl Rury's first cousins Caffar Og O'Donnell and Shane McManus Og O'Donnell also led important segments of the O'Donnell family. After the end of the Nine Years War Shane McManus Og rose to acquire a powerful position in Tir Chonaill, particularly in western Tir Chonaill along the coast and on the large offshore islands. Tory Castle was one of Shane McManus Og's most important strongholds. Caffar Og O'Donnell's landed possessions were more scattered along both banks of the River Swilly although he did possess the castle of Scarriffhollis on an important ford on the river. Other landowning branches of the O'Donnell family such as the O'Donnells of Portlough in Cinel Moen were much more distantly related to Earl Rury, these particular O'Donnells being descended from a ruling branch of the family who had been prominent in the fifteenth century. However, they were still very highly regarded by the population of Tir Chonaill into this post war period and the deaths of the head of the family are recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters.

I propose now to deal in turn with the relations with the English Crown of each of these branches of the O'Donnell family, beginning with the immediate post­war years. When Rury O'Donnell surrendered unconditionally to Lord Deputy Mountjoy at Athlone in December 1602, the majority of his remaining supporters were those who had stayed loyal to his brother Red Hugh right to the end. By 1602 these people were mostly from the household families of Tir Chonaill who traditionally supported the O'Donnell chieftain. As such they were viewed with deep suspicion by the English administration. However, by this stage of the war both sides were ready to make peace. The Annals of the Four Masters state that Rury 'called his advisors to him, to consider what he should do; and he began to deliberate with them in council.' The Four Masters go on to state that some of Red Hugh's supporters wanted to hold out, disbelieving the news that he had died in Spain. However, realistic counsel prevailed and the decision was made to end the war.

Lord Deputy Mountjoy's secretary Fynes Moryson in his later history of the war states that Rury wrote to the lord deputy that 'his father and grandfather had been true servitors' and that O'Donnell himself had opposed his brother's war for which he had been imprisoned. This indeed seems to be the case. The O'Donnell chieftains before the time of Red Hugh had traditionally been allies of the English Crown in Ireland or at least had kept the peace and rarely attacked the English colony. Also Rury did oppose Red Hugh's decision to go to war and throughout the Nine Years War was consistently more moderate than his elder brother.

In December 1602 Rury's most important adherents, were Owen McShane O'Gallagher, the leader of the household families, Tadhg 6g O'Boyle, the lord of Boylagh, and Rury's mother Ineen Dubh, his brother Caffar and his sisters Nuala, Margaret and Mary. All were totally loyal. O'Gallagher surrendered Ballymote Castle to Rury when O'Donnell returned to Lower Connacht after the battle of Kinsale and O'Boyle and Rury's family were the first named in Rury's pardon dating from February 1603. Rury and his followers returned to Tir Chonaill in February 1603 and soon after O'Donnell left for London where he met with the new British king, James I, who created him the first earl of Tirconnell. However, evidence from bardic poetry suggests that not all Rury's supporters were in favour of his peace with the English administration in Ireland. In a remarkable poem beginning 'Dana an turas trialltar sonn, - Bold is the journey attempted here', Red Hugh's ollamh in poetry Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bhaird commemorates Rury's travelling to Dublin in 1603 to attend a peace conference. The first six stanzas read like Mac an Bhaird's thoughts on Rury's peace mission and the poem is unlike any other I have ever come across. In these verses Mac an Bhaird states: Bold is the journey attempted here;

Long has it been debated.

The expedition is equal to a tragic fate:

Hard is the end of nobility.


By the hard fortune of the war of Flann's Fold O'Donnell's son has been beguiled,

Travelling with high spirit in the company of outland soldiery.


Bold is the cause he has set before him:

In brief, for the greatness of the evil that he saw awaiting him,

Rury has turned to the people who had defeated him.


Hard it is to face them:

Many is the risk before him;

Men who harden easy covenants,

Gloomy faces with dangerous attributes.


There are many ready for him in Dublin,

Warriors on whom misfortune has been inflicted;

Many a painful glance at his bright face;

To reach them is occasion for great loathing.


Many a cause of anxiety they had,

Many a foreign wife's lamentation,

Many a tombstone due to him -

Tis a marvel if he come back from that journey!


However, O'Donnell succeeded in getting his followers to accept his creation as earl of Tirconnell. Rury also made a good impression on Lord Deputy Mountjoy who wrote in May 1603 of 'Rury O'Donnell in whom I have great confidence'.

Hugh McHugh Dubh O'Donnell of Rathmelton too had been a loyal adherent of Red Hugh O'Donnell into 1602. However, this O'Donnell noble was highly intelligent and also a realist and acknowledged the war was lost a few months before Rury O'Donnell. As a result Hugh McHugh Dubh allowed his eldest son Caffar to make peace with the English commander in Sligo during the summer of 1602. It is clear from his own bardic poetry that Hugh knew the war was lost and should never be resumed, a lead followed by his son Caffar.

As things stood just before the battle of Kinsale in September 1601 Niall Garbh O'Donnell and the O'Donnells of Castlefinn looked like they were the branch of the O'Donnell family with the most to gain from an English victory. Niall Garbh and his brothers had joined the English in Derry in October 1600, killed Red Hugh's brother Manus in a skirmish near Lifford soon after and assisted the English in the ensuing months to such a successful extent that they had almost driven Red Hugh out of Tir Chonaill into Lower Connacht. However, by 1603 Red Hugh's brother Rury was set up in opposition to them as earl of Tirconnell and they had to be content with their lands in Glenfinn. How did,th!~,remarka.ple turn around in affairs happen? Primarily it was down to their leader,/1'l'iall Garbh's)lbrasive personality and lack of vision. The O'Donnells of CastlefinU',ieltthey.,had the greatest claim to the lordship of Tir Chonaill under English law due to the grant of an indenture for Tir Chonaill to their grandfather Calvagh O'Donnell by Lord Deputy Sidney in 1566. From October 1600 Niall Garbh was led to believe by various English commanders and officials that he would be made lord of Tir Chonaill in Red Hugh O'Donnell's place. However, English commanders such as Sir Henry Docwra and Lord Deputy Mountjoy reckoned without Niall Garbh's seeking to become lord of Tir Chonaill in the traditional O'Donnell manner, and also seeking to take acquire all its tributes in as great an extent as that possessed by any of his most powerful ancestors. This attitude shocked Sir Henry Docwra who was soon complaining of Niall Garbh's 'extreme pride, ambition and insatiable covetous-ness'. In 1603 Lord Deputy Mountjoy also went so far as to write that 'I will never advise that he shall be trusted nor advanced, since by his ill carriage he hath forfeited the favour that was intended towards him'.

Nevertheless Niall Garbh must have been astounded when Rury O'Donnell returned to Dr Chonaill with his followers in February 1603. The Annals of the Four Masters record that Lord Deputy Mountjoy requested Niall Garbh come to Dublin but that suspecting a trap Niall Garbh instead travelled to Kilmacrennan where he forced O'Friel to inaugurate him as the O'Donnell chieftain. This was the last occasion that an O'Donnell was inaugurated lord of Tir Chonaill, but it is unlikely that Niall Garbh was acknowledged as such by many outside his own immediate family. In fact Niall Garbh's action was to prove to be a major miscalculation on his part. The English administration in Dublin was outraged and ordered Rury O'Donnell, who had answered his summons and was in Dublin, back to Tir Chonaill with orders to help Sir Henry Docwra arrest his dynastic rival. Niall Garbh and his followers fled to the woods of Ceann Maghair on Mulroy Bay. In the fighting that followed his brother Hugh Boy was wounded and captured by the English and thousands of cattle were seized from Niall Garbh's adherents. The Annals of the Four Masters state that: 'vast numbers of those who were plundered died of cold and famine'. In the end Niall Garbh surrendered and had to travel to England with Rury O'Donnell to meet King James where Niall suffered the humiliation of seeing his bitter rival created earl of Tirconnell.

The other two prominent O'Donnell nobles also attempted to secure their position in the lordship of Tir Chonaill as the Nine Years War ended. In April 1602 Shane McManus Og O'Donnell was given permission by the English commanders in Co. Donegal to come ashore safely on the mainland, in order to mend his fishing boat. Shane then gave the English information that his cousin Caffar Og O'Donnell was still at war having 'stolen into Tir Chonaill and lies lurking in the woods in O'Boyle's Country'. In 1603 Caffar Og was again in western Tir Chonaill where with Mulmurry McSweeney he came 'to wage war with Niall Garbh and the English'. For a second time Caffar Og based himself in Boylagh but was soon after captured by Niall Garbh. However, both these O'Donnell nobles managed to secure pardons from the English administration in Ireland and began to settle down in post-war Donegal.

In February 1603 Rury O'Donnell received his patent for the earldom of Tir Chonaill from King James I. Rury was granted, as the patent put it: 'All the territories or countries in the precinct of Tir Chonaill, with all the appurtenances and hereditaments thereto belonging in as large and ample manner as his brother Hugh Rufus O'Donnell, attainted and dead in Spain, or his father Hugh" McManus O'Donnell, or his grandfather Manus O'Donnell, or any other his ancestors had, enjoyed, or possessed the same". Initially Earl Rury must have been very pleased with this grant. However, the many exemptions from his grant contained in the same patent were to eventually destroy the finances of O'Donnell's new earldom. Firstly, the patent reserved all ecclesiastical land in Tir Chonaill to the Crown. This measure was not too severe as most of these lands, although sometimes taxed by the O'Donnell chieftains, were held by the local coarb and erenagh families or like the Observant Franciscan monastery in Donegal Town, were under the patronage of the lords of Tir Chonaill and were totally free from any exactions. More serious was the Crown's taking of the O'Donnell fortress of Ballyshannon and the adjacent fishery and 1000 acres of land. Ballyshannon was an important manor farm belonging to the O'Donnell chieftain and the fishery was worth £800 per annum, a considerable sum in a Co. Donegal ravaged by years of bitter warfare. The lordship of Inishowen under Sir Cahir O'Doherty and the lands in Glenfinn belonging to Niall Garbh O'Donnell were also exempt from Earl Rury's jurisdiction. The traditional duties of these areas to the O'Donnell chieftain had been in the form of contributions of troops and the billeting of mercenaries so their direct financial loss to Earl Rury now that such obligations were abolished may not have been too great. However, O'Donnell also had to renounce any tributes from the O'Connor Sligo lordship of Lower Connacht, a loss which was important in monetary terms.

Besides the losses in his patent English officials in Co. Donegal continued to chip away at Rury's landholdings and income. At some stage the lucrative fishery of Killybegs which was worth £500 @ was seized as were O'Donnell's lands at Lifford which the earl described in 1605 as 'the only jewel I had for my maintenance'. In addition Rury had difficulty in finding tenants to farm what land-holdings remained to him. In 1605 0 'Donnell wrote to the English privy council that 'As most part of the Earl's country is waste, by reason that the ancient inhabitants dwell in other places, having had wrongs daily proffered to them, he prays that such of his tenants as were born in Tirconnell may be enjoined to return to and continue in his country; he being willing to grant them estates under reasonable rents and English tenures'. By 1606 matters had not improved and Earl Rury wrote to Sir Robert Cecil, the earl of Salisbury that 'His poverty is so great, by reason of his un-peopled country'.

Nevertheless, Earl Rury did not give up without a fight. With the assistance of his immediate family O'Donnell set in train a series of reforms within the parts of Tir Chonaill still under his authority. However, many of these measures were not a success and created a great deal of hostility towards the earl from elements of the population of his earldom. Rury installed his brother Caffar on an O'Donnell farm at Ballindrait in Cinel M6en, probably to counter the English officials who had seized Lifford. He also secured the agreement of his mother Ineen Dubh to allow the mortgage of her estate of fifteen quarters of land in Tir Breasail to the Dublin merchant Alderman Nicholas Weston. Rury also mortgaged the termon of Kilmacrennan which contained thirty quarters of land to Weston, probably with the agreement of the O'Friels, the coarb family of the site, as they were about to lose their lands to George Montgomery the new Protestant bishop of Derry, Raphoe and Clogher. In all Earl Rury was able to raise £1,600 through Alderman Weston. The Earl saved a further twelve quarters near Kilmacrennan by claiming them from the Protestant bishop due to one of O'Donnell's ancestors accepting them in mortgage for sixty cattle. O'Donnell mortgaged other lands in Co. Donegal to wealthy supporters such as Lughaidh 6 Cleirigh, the author of his brother's biography the Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Vi Dhomhnaill.

However, besides these measures Earl Rury was quite extreme in some of the reforms, which he attempted in his earldom. O'Donnell was being advised by his brother's confederate Hugh O'Neill and it was probably under O'Neill's guidance that Rury introduced some ruthless measures to improve his financial standing. Sometime in 1604 the Earl forced his sub-chieftains McSweeney Banagh, McSweeney Fanad and O'Boyle of Boylagh to convey the title over their sub-lordships to himself as earl, making O'Donnell the owner of their lands. This measure was very un-popular with the sub-chieftains of Tir Chonaill and their families as can be seen in the story given by Tadhg 6 Ciamiin in his account of the flight of the earls where he states that the son of Donnell McSweeney Fanad fought with people sent ashore by the earls to obtain water and firewood. However, Rury also seized out-right the lands of his first cousin Caffar 6g O'Donnell and the lands of some of the McSweeneys of Doe a drastic step, which led to violence and outright defiance of his authority. In 1605, Owen Og McSweeney, the leader of the dispossessed McSweeneys of Doe was executed by Rury because of his opposition. However, another member of the family, Niall McSweeney, seized Doe Castle while O'Donnell was in England and held it for the next eighteen months depriving Rury of the rents from sixty quarters of land.

Matters became very serious in January 1607 when Niall McSweeney and Caffar Og O'Donnell again seized Doe Castle and went into what Lord Deputy Chichester called 'a kind of rebellion', plundering and killing Earl Rury's supporters in the surrounding areas. Although Caffar Og· and McSweeney only had sixty supporters they were well armed and the unrest was the most serious disturbance on the entire island at the time. Earl Rury's land reforms were seen as the direct cause of this violence and by the time of the flight of the earls in September 1607 Co. Donegal was the place of greatest concern to the English administration as one of the most lawless places in Ireland.

To counter the breakdown in the bonds in Tir Chonaill society Rury and his family turned to traditional Gaelic institutions to preserve their authority amongst their remaining followers in Co. Donegal. Rury installed his foster-father as the O'Gallagher chieftain who was the leader of the household families of Tir Chonaill. The household families were the most loyal element in the population of the earldom and it was important for Rury to have someone he could trust in command of them. Rury also gave his foster-father custody of Lough Eske Castle, the most secure fortress remaining to him in Co. Donegal. Also, Rury's brother Caffar O'Donnell is noted in the annals for his hospitality and generosity, which may indicate that he deliberately feasted his supporters and patronized people such as the traditional Gaelic learned families. Rury himself is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters as 'a generous, bounteous ... and truly hospitable lord'. The earl also upheld the rights of his followers against the English garrisons in Co. Donegal. The most celebrated incident was when Rury took up the case of a 'young maid' of eleven who was raped by a Captain Ellis and who then had her cause pursued in the English courts by O'Donnell until Ellis was outlawed.

However, the progress of this legal case was a microcosm of another major problem for Earl Rury - his legal difficulties with the English administration both in Co. Donegal and Dublin. Although Captain Ellis was outlawed at the Co. Donegal sessions, O'Donnell later accused Lord Deputy Chichester of pardoning the English officer. Also, Earl Rury's tenants were being constantly harassed by the officers in command of the English garrisons at Lifford and Ballyshannon, who seized cattle and horses at will, which caused great disruption on the earl's lands, particularly at harvest time. Rury was also brought to court in 1605 for executing some bandits or wood­kerne. Although O'Donnell probably did not follow the due process of English law, resorting to the traditional O'Donnell method of hanging them by his own authority, ­the earl saw it as petty harassment to be pursued through the courts by hostile English officials for what O'Donnell probably saw as helping to preserve law and order in Co. Donegal. Also, although on one occasion Lord Deputy Chichester returned some land at Bundrowes to him, Earl Rury felt very aggrieved by the generally unhelpful and hostile official English attitude towards him which no doubt contributed substantially to his decision to leave Ireland with Hugh O'Neill in the flight of the earls in September 1607.

Indeed by 1607 the cumulative result of all these problems was to cripple Earl Rury financially. In December 1606 O'Donnell wrote to King James that 'Seeing his estate plunged into so deep a pit of misery, as he shames to express before his Majesty'. In October 1607, after the flight of the earls, Lord Deputy Chichester was referring to the earl as 'that needy earl of Tirconnell, for he had neither gold nor silver ... and is besides indebted to sundry poor men to the value of£3,000'. It was Rury's financial difficulties that drove him to negotiate with the Spanish ambassador in London, probably for a substantial Spanish pension. I strongly believe that Earl Rury never intended to resume the war in Ireland with the English. However, the English administration soon became aware of his Spanish links, a fact, which, if known to O'Donnell, would have greatly added to his worries. In the end Rury O'Donnell must have had enough and decided to leave for a new life on the continent either in Spain or in Spanish Flanders where he could look forward to the life of an appreciated nobleman or soldier. As Professor Nicholas Canny put it 'Reading his catalogue of woes, one is left with the impression that flight might have come as a pleasant relief to him after years of bickering' .              .

With the flight of the earls most of Earl Rury's immediate family were brought safe to the continent out of the reach of the English Crown. However, some members of the earl's family were left behind. For whatever reason Rury's mother Ineen Dubh remained in Co. Donegal where she was given a substantial estate in the plantation of Ulster for the term of her life. However, Rury's nephew Conn, the illegitimate child of his brother Caffar was inadvertently left behind by the sudden nature of the flight of the earls. Lord Deputy Chichester took this child into custody in October 1608. Conn was later confined to London along with Earl Rury's daughter Mary who was born after the flight of the earls to his pregnant Countess, Bridget Fitzgerald, who had also been left behind due to the sudden nature ofRury's departure. These two children escaped from London to the continent in 1629 an event that was known to the people of Tir Chonaill who recorded it in their local annals.

In contrast to Earl Rury O'Donnell's attempts to establish himself as a loyal Jacobean nobleman, his greatest rival Niall Garbh O'Donnell never gave up his ambition to become a traditional lord of Tir Chonail!. It is clear that by early 1601 the English administration did indeed begin to recognise Niall Garbh as the O'Donnell chieftain. However, between then and the end of the war in 1602/03 Niall Garbh alienated the local English commanders in Derry and Lord Deputy Mountjoy in Dublin through his arrogant demands and failure to take account of the changing political landscape in post-war Ulster. Although Niall Garbh forced O'Friel to inaugurate him as the O'Donnell chieftain in 1603 it was Rury O'Donnell who was created earl of Tirconnell by King James I. Niall Garbh continued to hope he would eventually become lord of Tir Chonaill. As a result he never took out a patent for his substantial lands in Glenfinn, an omission that was eventually to cost his family dear after the flight of the earls.

From 1603 onwards Niall Garbh pursued a fine line between keeping the peace and resorting to violence to further his ambitions in Co. Donegal. In early 1604 he began to build up a substantial following in Tir Chonaill, signing covenants of support with discontented nobles such as Caffar Og O'Donnell. When Earl Rury left the county to visit the Pale for a period Niall Garbh 'taking opportunity of the earl of Tirconnell's absence, hath gotten many followers, and hath possessed himself of the tenants and herds of cattle and is grown so strong as the earl I think holds it not safe to return thither'. However, the value of cooperating with the English administration in Ireland was shown to Niall Garbh in 1605 when the Annals of the Four Masters record that Lord Deputy Chichester awarded him the territory of Moentacht, which had been in dispute between him and Hugh O'Neill the earl of Tyrone. Although he still did not take out a patent for his lands in Glenfinn, Niall Garbh continued to support the English county administration in Donegal. In March 1607 Niall campaigned with Earl Rury and Sir Richard Hansard against his old ally Caffar Og O'Donnell and Niall McSweeney in the woods of Ceann Maghair. In fact Lord  Deputy Chichester recorded that Niall Garbh in storming Doe Castle 'got a blow in the service which I think he will hardly recover of long time if he escape with his life' .

However, with the fight of Earl Rury to the continent in September 1607 Niall Garbh seems to have felt that his hour had finally arrived. Rury's mother Ineen Dubh later accused Niall Garbh of exploiting the power vacuum in Co. Donegal by encouraging the young lord of Inishowen, Sir Cahir O'Doherty, to rebel in May 1608. Ineen Dubh stated that Niall Garbh promised to send his brothers to seize Lifford and Ballyshannon while he himself would capture Sir Richard Hansard and kill all his English soldiers. Again according to Ineen Dubh the reason Niall Garbh failed to support O'Doherty's capture of Derry was that his son Neachtan was unable to escape from Dublin. Whether Ineen Dubh's accusations are true is open to question but certainly in the aftermath of O'Doherty's revolt Niall Garbh panicked. He sought five protections from English commanders within fifteen days leading one English official to state that he would only confirm them 'if you or they are not guilty of the late treacherous and bloody stratagem at Culmore or the Derry' .

When Lord Deputy Chichester campaigned in Co. Donegal to crush O'Doherty's revolt he arrested Niall Garbh and his brothers Hugh Boy and Donnell. Lucky to escape with their lives, Niall Garbh and his son Neachtan were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Niall and Neachtan were to remain captive in the Tower for the remainder of their lives. Neachtan died there in 1624 and Niall Garbh in 1626. Because Niall Garbh never took out a patent for his lands his family were dispossessed although his brothers Donnell and Hugh Boy received small estates in the plantation of Ulster. Niall Garbh's tenants seem to have turned on his family, and he himselflived in pove . . on. Niall Garbh's descendants remained in Glenfinn until the 1650s when the migrated 0 Co. Mayo.

The other O'Donnells nobles took varying attitudes in their relationship with the English Crown. Hugh McHugh Dubh O’Donnell and his son Caffar remained quiet during O'Doherty's revolt of 1608. Hugh McHugh Dubh had been a committed confederate of Red Hugh O'Donnell and knew a great deal about waging war. As a result he probably surmised that O'Doherty's rebellion had no chance of success due to the isolated nature of the uprising, although his second eldest son Sean joined the revolt and killed Lieutenant Corby during the assault on Derry. However, Sean had long abandoned his father and was a supporter of the rebellious Caffar Og O'Donnell since 1605. In the plantation of Ulster Hugh's son Caffar was granted a small estate and Hugh McHugh Dubh himself was allowed to retain his castle at Rathmelton and 1000 acres for the remainder of his life. Hugh McHugh Dubh O'Donnell turned to poetry and he became an accomplished bardic poet. He died in 1618. Similarly, the O'Donnells of Portlough, although Earl Rury had mortgaged their lands, also remained quiet during O'Doherty's revolt. In 1610 their leader Niall Garbh McRury O'Donnell was given a small estate in the Ulster plantation.

As has already been stated Caffar Og O'Donnell was outraged by Earl Rury's confiscation of his lands and went into rebellion in January 1607. By July Caffar Og had fled to another rebellious area in the Inner Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. He was arrested in 1608, in Co. Donegal by Lord Deputy Chichester who had him executed in Dublin for high treason in 1609.

In contrast, in the post-war years Shane McManus Og O'Donnell was able to build up a powerful position in western Tir Chonaill and on the offshore islands, where he extended his authority over local O'Donnell nobles such as Shane McTurlough O'Donnell. Shane McManus Og too had ambitions to become lord of Tir Chonaill. As Lord Deputy Chichester put it 'Shane McManus Og O'Donnell, who holdeth the island of Tory from us, and is ambitious to be created O'Donnell after the manner of the country'. As a result this O'Donnell joined Sir Cahir O'Doherty's rebellion in 1608 and indeed proved to be a much more dangerous threat to the English interest in Co. Donegal than the young lord of Inishowen. Shane McManus Og gathered 240 'well armed' men and based himself on the islands off the Donegal coast where Chichester reported he 'hoped to lie safe, far off and difficult to come at: and thereby to increase in number and reputation after our departure'. Nevertheless, the lord deputy pursued O'Donnell's small army, forcing it to break up although Chichester admitted that 'the ways were hard and almost impassable'. Shane McManus Og retreated to Tory Island with sixty men but was pursued even there by the lord deputy. Although Shane was able to resist Chichester's first siege due to the natural strength of Tory Castle and the care with which he had stocked his fortress, the castle eventually fell when a second English force landed on the island forcing O'Donnell to escape by boat. Shane was pursued to Aran Island and then to the Donegal mainland. The last time Shane McManus Og appears in English records was when the officer in charge of the pursuit wrote to Lord Deputy Chichester that he hoped to 'hear of the loss of his head'.

Therefore, as can be seen from this paper, which I hope you have enjoyed, the attitude towards the English Crown amongst the various branches of the O'Donnells living in Co. Donegal about the time of the flight of the earls varied widely. However, I believe that the two strongest strands were a willingness to accept that traditional Gaelic autonomy was gone - which was the policy adopted by the more realistic branches of the family - set against the traditional lure of the institution of O'Donnell which was surprisingly resilient amongst some of the O'Donnell families, particularly those of Castlefinn and Tory Island. The contrasting fates of these two policies I hope is also clear from this paper. The O'Donnells who accepted the changed political circumstances in Ireland, with the major exception of Earl Rury and his family, survived and received small estates as (deserving natives in)the plantation of Ulster. Those O'Donnells who were still attached to traditional Gaelic lordship were arrested or executed and lost their lands in the plantatioin of Uster in 1610. It is clear that the English administration in Ireland was still very fearful of the institution of O'Donnell into 1608, which can be seen in the ruthless manner in which Lord Deputy Chichester arrested as many untrustworthy O'Donnells as he could and hounded Shane McManus Og O'Donnell from islartd to island off the coast of west Donegal until his rebellion was broken up and finally collapsed.

That is the end of my paper thanks very much.  Author Unknown