Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre Donegal – In September 1607 a French ship sailed from the northern harbour of Rathmullan in Lough Swilly. On board were Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, together with more than ninety of their family and followers. The ship was bound for Spain, but fierce storms forced them to disembark in France in early October. Thereafter they made their way to Rome, where they remained in voluntary exile, and where O’Neill died in 1616.
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Rathmullan, Co Donegal, Ireland
Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre
The Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre overlooks the very shore from where the Earls left Ireland for good. The Exhibition is houed in a fort built in 1880 as a defence against possible invasion by the French. It is a lively, informative and interesting display of the life and times of the Earls and the aftermath of their Flight. Displays include models, maps, artwork, literature, fabric hangings and lifelike wax models of the Earls and their families.
Born 1550 the Grandson of Conn O’Neill the first Earl of Tyrone. At the age of nine he became a ward of Giles Hovendon, an English settler in the Pale. He was educated in England an English noble. Here he learned the tactics of English warfare and the art of diplomacy.
In 1585 he became the Earl of Tyrone. For almost twenty years he served the English Crown and fought for the English in battles against his fellow Irishmen. For these acts he would never be fully trusted by his own people.
In 1593 he took the name ‘O’Neill’ in defiance of English law. In doing so he secured the allegiance of his fellow clans men but alienated him from his English past. O’Neill was now a traitor in the eyes of the English Crown.
After plots were made against him and his fellow northern Earls they left Ireland forever in the epic journey known as the Flight of the Earls in 1607. Hugh O’Neill died in exile in Rome on the 20th July 1616.
Location Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre Donegal
First Earl of Tryconnel and last Chieftain of the O’Donnell’s. Born in 1575 he was one of nine children. The younger brother of the famous Red Hugh O’Donnell he became Chieftain of Tyrconnel after his brothers death in Spain in 1602.
Rory left with his fellow Earls in 1607. In his haste he left his pregnant wife behind who had been visiting relatives in Kildare. He was given refuge in Rome but died in 1608. He is buried alongside O’Neill at the alter of the Franciscan Church of St Peter in Montario in Rome.
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