Death of Shane O’Neill

shane o neill ireland

We wish to demonstrate by this present series of historical articles on the mid-sixteenth century and the role of Shane O’Neill in particular, that Nicholas Bagenal – the ‘hero’ of ‘Bagenal’s Caisle

Mr Justice Dowdall and Thomas Stukeley were sent by the English Government to Shane O’Neill for the purpose of conferring with him but they met with little success. 


In contempt the proud O’Neill stated that he never made peace with the Queen except at her own seeking and he arrogantly boasted that he would keep from O’Donnell his country (Donegal) and Newry from Bagenal and Dundrum from Kildare.


Even the English Deputy acknowledged O’Neill’s strong position: he was, he said, ‘the only strong and rich man in Ireland who could bring into the field of battle 1000 horse and 4000 foot soldiers. He could burn and spoil with impunity even to the gates of Dublin‘. 


In Newry Nicholas Bagenal despaired completely and in March 1567 he made a bargain with the aforementioned Thomas Stukeley to sell to him all his lands in Ireland, together with the office of Marshall. The price was

Shane O’Neill eliminates rivals


In Shane O’Neill’s time (1550s-60s) there was acrimony and conflict within the O’Neill clan between the English appointed Barons (or Earls) of Ulster and the clan-elected leadership. 


For example on 12th April 1562, between Newry and Carlingford Brian, the young Baron (eldest son of Matthew O’Neill) was slain, along with twenty of his retainers by Turlough Lynagh O’Neill at the head of 100 horsemen. 

Turlough Lynagh O’Neill was Shane O’Neill’s tanist (second and heir apparent) under the Brehon laws. It was by this deed that Hugh, Brian’s brother became Baron of Dungannon. He was raised under English rule and patronage but, as we know, he rejected this in 1595 on the death of Turlough Lynagh and became ‘The O’Neill’. 


He was almost immediately then to lead the greatest rebellion against English rule.


It is in Shane O’Neill that for the moment we are more interested. He abhorred and rejected his father’s (Conn‘s) acceptance of the English title of Earl and had his rivals (his illegitimate half-brother Matthew (d. 1558) – and his son Brian – above) put to death, as he determined to assume the title and responsibilities of The O’Neill (even in his father’s time) towards the end of the 1550s: – his father Conn died in 1559.

… more later ….

Bagenal decides to quit …

Dudley Bagenal


Nor did ALL the Bagenal family hold true to the officially-sanctioned line of succession to the English throne! From the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1836 (another useful general history source) we learn the following regarding the Bagenal property acceded to Creely in Carneyhaugh …

Read moreDudley Bagenal