O'Neill, Turlough Luineach (DNB00)
O'NEILL, Sir TURLOUGH LUINEACH (1530?–1595), lord of Tyrone, was styled Luineach from having been fostered by O'Luinigh of Muintir Luinigh in Tyrone; he was son of Niall Conallach O'Neill, a grandson of Art Og O'Neill, a younger brother of Con mor O'Neill, the father of Con, first earl of Tyrone, and was born about 1530. His mother was Rose, daughter of Manus O'Donnell [q. v.] He became tanist when his cousin Shane [q. v.] was elected O'Neill. In 1562, when Shane was detained in England, he tried to supplant him as chief of the clan, and it was probably in pursuit of his aim that on 12 April he waylaid and murdered, between Newry and Carlingford, the young baron of Dungannon, Brian, the son of Mathew or Ferdorach, and brother of Hugh, subsequently second earl of Tyrone [q. v.] His intention to usurp the chieftainship was frustrated by the loyalty of Shane's fosterers, the O'Donnellys, and by the opportune return of Shane himself. His conduct naturally produced a coldness between the two kinsmen, and Sussex took advantage of it to draw Turlough into a combination against Shane. But, finding after a short experience that his alliance with the government was not likely to be productive of much benefit to him, Turlough came to terms with Shane, and after his death in June 1567 was inaugurated O'Neill with the customary ceremonies at Tullaghoge.
Fearing the vengeance of the government, he apologised for his ‘thoughtless’ behaviour, offered to renounce the title of O'Neill, and to prove his loyalty by not entertaining any Scottish mercenaries without license. It was thought best to wink at his misdemeanours, and Turlough, who had not the slightest intention of abandoning either the policy or the pretensions of his predecessor, had time to strengthen his position. To this end he contracted an alliance with O'Donnell, made overtures for a reconciliation with the MacDonnells, offering to marry either the widow or daughter of James MacDonnell, and, in order to mitigate the hostility of the MacQuillins, gave one of his daughters in marriage to Rory Oge MacQuillin. Notwithstanding his protestations of loyalty, there was only one interpretation to be placed upon his conduct, and in June 1568 Sir William Fitzwilliam [q. v.] formed a plan to lay hold of him, which was frustrated by the lord justice's inability to provision his army. Later in the year Turlough met Sir Henry Sidney [q. v.] at the Bann, and created a favourable impression. Rumours were subsequently current of an understanding between him and James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald [q. v.], ‘the arch traitor;’ but Turlough apparently found sufficient to occupy his attention in Ulster. In the summer of the following year (1569) he married Agnes Campbell, widow of James MacDonnell; but the marriage, though it brought him considerable accession of strength from a military point of view, proved in other respects of doubtful advantage. Before long it was reported that he had ‘eaten himself up’ by supporting his new allies, and would gladly be rid of them and his wife at any price. To add to his discomfort, it was said that he had been accidentally shot by his jester while sitting at supper with his wife. But Sir Nicholas Malby, who was inclined to regard him with suspicion, was of opinion that he was merely ‘winning time,’ and that he would never be content with less than the absolute control of his urraghs or feudatory chiefs. To this the government would not consent; but on 20 Jan. 1571, acting, it is said, by the advice of his wife, but more probably by the intervention of Sir Edward Moore [q. v.], he agreed to a temporary peace in order to afford time to enable him to submit his demands to the queen. Meanwhile he promised to dismiss his Scottish mercenaries, but declined to be drawn into a combination against them.
Matters continued in this uncertain state till the rumour of the intended colonisation of Antrim by Sir Thomas Smith in the spring of 1572 drove him into active opposition. Professing his doubts as to Smith's authority for his undertaking, he took measures to render it abortive. But the prospect became more serious when it was known that Smith's project had been taken up by Walter Devereux, earl of Essex [q. v.] Refusing to be deluded by Essex's specious announcement, that the expedition was directed against the Scots, and not against loyal Irishmen, Turlough declined to render him the assistance he demanded; and in February 1574 Essex prepared to carry out his threat of wasting him with fire and sword. But for this his resources proved inadequate, and in March he consented to a truce, promising to transmit his petition to the queen. Elizabeth, who had been inclined, on the first news of Essex's inability to make good his footing in Ulster, ‘to lap up’ matters with Turlough, but could not make up her mind to any consistent policy, now ordered her deputy to give Essex every assistance in order to bring Turlough to his senses. Accordingly, in September Essex invaded Tyrone. Turlough suffered severely. But the expedition was productive of little advantage to Essex; and the eagerness with which Fitzwilliam obeyed Elizabeth's fresh instructions for a disbandment produced a coldness between him and Essex, which Turlough endeavoured to improve to his own advantage by addressing ‘a politic letter’ to the deputy, favourably contrasting his conduct with Essex's. But Elizabeth was annoyed at Fitzwilliam's precipitancy, and Turlough, fearing that the storm had not blown over, sent his wife to the viceroy to sue for peace. He still insisted on having his urraghs, and ten days were given him to reconsider his position. It was deeply mortifying to Essex, just when things seemed to be improving, to learn from Elizabeth herself that his enterprise had proved a failure, and that all that remained to be done was to induce Turlough to consent to reasonable conditions ‘as our honour may best be salved,’ and, if possible, to erect a fort at the Blackwater. Essex obeyed with a heavy heart; but seizing the opportunity of an attempt on Turlough's part to hinder the erection of the new fort, he crossed the Blackwater, captured twelve hundred of his cattle, and pressed him so hard that he was compelled, at no little personal risk, to seek safety in a neighbouring bog. Turlough thereupon submitted, and on 27 June 1575 articles of peace were signed whereby he promised to surrender his urraghs, to keep the peace with O'Donnell, the baron of Dungannon, and others of the queen's loyal subjects, and to assist in expelling the Scots. In return he was to receive a grant of all the lands from Lough Foyle to the Blackwater, and from the Bann to Lough Erne; to be excused from coming to any governor against his will; and to be allowed, ‘for the better security of his person,’ to retain three hundred Scots, so long as they were not of the MacDonnell connection.
The treaty was a victory for Turlough; and to prove that his rebellious behaviour was solely, as he declared, due to Essex's arbitrary conduct, he took the opportunity shortly afterwards to present himself before Sir Henry Sidney at Armagh, ‘without Pleadge, Promis, or Hostage,’ and so won upon the lord deputy that, while refusing to countenance his petition for ‘as ample an Estate and Rule as others of his Surname heretofore have had,’ he recommended that he should be treated leniently so far as his urraghs were concerned, and that he should be ennobled by the title of Clanoneill for life, which Sidney thought could not be long, ‘consideringe his Age, wounded and imperfect Boddye, his ill Diet, and contynuall Surfett’ (Collins, Sidney Papers, i. 78; cf. Derricke, ‘Image of Ireland,’ in Somers Tracts, i. 611, and the corresponding woodcut illustrating Turlough's submission). Sidney's suggestion was approved; but it was not till May 1578 that a patent creating him Baron of Clogher and Earl of Clanconnell was passed. The retirement of Sidney from the government of Ireland, the outbreak of the rebellion in Munster, the questionable behaviour of Turlough himself in refusing to meet Sir William Drury [q. v.], coupled with the fact that he and the Baron of Dungannon had become fast friends, frustrated the realisation of Sidney's proposal. After Drury's death, on 30 Sept. 1579, he assumed a more menacing attitude. It was reported that the pope had promised him the principality of Ulster; and evidence was forthcoming of an understanding between him and Viscount Baltinglas. All Sir William Gerard's tact, and an offer to confirm the agreement with Essex, failed to pacify him. To Captain Piers, who was sent to remonstrate with him, he insisted on having his urraghs; nothing less would satisfy him. Provided his demand was conceded, he swore not to leave a Scot in Ireland. When the news of the defeat of the deputy, Arthur, lord Grey de Wilton [q. v.], at Glenmalure reached him, he plundered the territory of his recalcitrant urragh Magennis, and threatened to invade the Pale with five thousand men. Only the Baron of Dungannon held out against him, and he, by his own account, was compelled to betake himself to the woods for safety. But with the south of Ireland in a blaze, it was impossible to do other than temporise with him. He petitioned to have the benefit of his letters as Earl of Clanconnell; to be re-established in the rights and privileges of his ancestors; to have one hundred soldiers in the pay of the state, together with the command of the fort on the Blackwater and a grant of lands in the English Pale. Grey promised to transmit his petition, and on these terms peace was concluded at Benburb in September 1580.
But his treaty with the government did not prevent him from refusing to surrender William Nugent [q. v.], who had taken refuge with him, or from retaliating on O'Reilly by ravaging his country far and wide for having in fair and open battle slain Shane Oge, the eldest son of Shane O'Neill, and taken his brother Con a prisoner; or from assisting Con O'Donnell against his uncle, Hugh MacManus O'Donnell, at the bloody battle of Kiltole on 4 July 1581. Grey, who had lost all patience with him, suggested his extirpation; but Elizabeth, who knew too well the cost of such fruitless enterprises, advised conciliation, and on 2 Aug. the peace of September was confirmed, and his controversy with O'Donnell referred to commissioners. But Justice Dowdall and Michael Cusack, who somewhat tardily were appointed for the business, failed to give him satisfaction; and in June 1583 Turlough, who had recovered from a drunken trance, which had lasted two days and given rise to a rumour that he was dead, invaded Tyrconnel, but was defeated by O'Donnell with heavy loss at Drumleen. Early in the following year it was reported that he had made the Baron of Dungannon his tanist, and that they had entered into a close alliance with O'Donnell. The combination appeared a dangerous one to Bagenal, but whatever disloyalty there may have been in it evaporated with the appearance of Sir John Perrot [q. v.] on the borders. Without asking either for pardon or protection, Turlough met the deputy half a mile outside Newry; and, having put in his eldest son Art as a pledge, accompanied him on his expedition against the Scots. He was deserted by O'Cahan and the O'Donnellys, who went over to Sorley Boy MacDonnell [q. v.], and so slenderly accompanied that, according to Captain John Norris, he durst only lie where he might be defended by Norris's troops.
But Turlough, though old, was far from being so insignificant as Norris supposed. He attended the opening of parliament in May 1585, but it seems doubtful if he ever took his seat. Later in the year he was induced by Perrot to consent to surrender the possession of that portion of his territories lying between the Mullaghcarn mountains and the Blackwater to the Earl of Tyrone, at a sort of yearly rent of one thousand marks. The agreement took the form of a seven years' lease, terminable by Turlough at the end of three years. The arrangement, confirmed by Perrot on 10 Aug., worked badly from the first, and in May 1586 Turlough, at the instigation of his wife, demanded restitution of his lands. But the difficulty was smoothed over, and Perrot suggested that he should be created Earl of Omagh, which, besides gratifying him, would effectually serve to extinguish the name of O'Neill. To this fruitful source of discord between Turlough and the Earl of Tyrone was added another, arising from the fact that, whereas the latter supported the faction of Hugh MacManus O'Donnell and his youthful son Hugh Roe [q. v.], Turlough supported that of Hugh Mac Deaganach and Niall Garv. In consequence of this dispute, Tyrone in April 1588 attacked Turlough, and captured some three or four thousand head of cattle belonging to him. Turlough was taken off his guard; but, with the assistance of Hugh MacDeaganach and Niall Garv, he inflicted a terrible defeat on Tyrone at Carricklea on 1 May. At Michaelmas, the three years, according to the agreement between them, having elapsed, Turlough again demanded the restitution of his lands. It was impossible to deny his right to enforce his claim, and the privy council were for persuading Tyrone ‘to surcease his further claim to the rest of the years.’ But Fitzwilliam, who feared that to give back the land to Turlough would throw the balance of power into the hands of the sons of Shane O'Neill, contrived to induce him to withdraw his claim, and to accept an increase of rent for the remaining four years. Neither side was satisfied with the arrangement, and in one of the numerous encounters that took place between them Turlough was shot through the shoulder with a bullet. His power, which had long been waning, began rapidly to decline after the restoration of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, and in May 1593 he resigned in favour of the Earl of Tyrone, who was inaugurated O'Neill. Subsequently, on 28 June, he was awarded a life interest in the Strabane district, while the earl's supremacy was acknowledged over all Tyrone. But the old fighting spirit was not yet extinct in him, and in May 1594 he offered, with three thousand men, armed and paid by the state, to assure Ulster to her majesty. Latterly he was desirous of repairing to Dublin, and in June 1595 the Poppinjay was sent to convey him thither. But Tyrone, who was warned of his intention, razed his castle of Strabane, and he was driven to seek the shelter of a neighbouring ruin, where he died early in September 1595, and was buried at Ardstraw.
There is a pen-and-ink portrait of Turlough Luineach by Barnaby Gooch, ‘rudely drawn but greatly resembling him,’ in ‘State Papers,’ Irel. Eliz. (xlv. 60, ii.).
The name of Turlough's first wife is not known, but he had a son Henry, killed in 1578 in action against the O'Gallaghers. In 1569 he married Agnes Campbell, widow of James MacDonnell, and by her had Sir Art O'Neill, who married a daughter of Cuconnacht Maguire. He had also numerous illegitimate children.
[Cal. State Papers, Ireland, Eliz.; Cal. Carew MSS.; Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O'Donovan; Annals of Loch Cé (Rolls Ser.); Devereux's Lives of the Earls of Essex; Strype's Life of Sir Thomas Smith; Hill's MacDonnells of Antrim; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Irish Genealogies in Harl. MS. 1425.]