John McCullagh November 2, 2006
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A sub-branch of the Tyrone O’Neill clan came to Creggan Parish in the middle of the 15th century. Aodh O’Neill is considered the founder …


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and first leader of this clan in the Fews area. Within a century they were separate from the Tyrone line.

Due to his co-operation with the English in the suppression of his kinsmen, Turlough MacHenry O’Neill, great, great grandson of Aodh was knighted by James I (about the time that the third Bagenal, Arthur was receiving from the same monarch a charter for Newry and the holdings of his father and grandfather).  Turlough MacHenry was granted ownership of 9000 acres in the Fews. He built an elaborate residence, a castle on the rocks overlooking Glassdrummond Lake.  

In the 1641 rising his son, Sir Henry remained loyal to the Crown. Still, his sons and brothers played a prominent part, resulting in the destruction of the castle and the confiscation of the land. Sir Henry was banished to Connaught. He was awarded an estate in East Mayo, lands which a later grandson, also Henry, lost! 

Almost a century after his Dungannon counterparts, Henry also left Ireland for the continent. There he had a successful career with the Spanish army. 

Many more O’Neills were to follow suit to Spain and also had distinguished careers.

Daniel O’Neill of Hilltown, County Down – a contemporary of the poet Art McCooey – who died in 1773, was said to be the last of the once wealthy and influential family to maintain any semblance of a former lifestyle. His son Art Og died at the young age of 26. They are both buried in Creggan churchyard, near the O’Neill Vault, where a flat tombstone bears their name.

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