Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/221

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

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