Red Hugh O'Donnell 1571-1602

Red Hugh was the son of Ineen Dubh and Hugh O'Donnell, Lord of Tír Chonaill. As a boy he was fostered by several of the noble houses of Ulster.

Just before his fifteenth birthday he was captured by the English and was taken to Dublin Castle. He was kept prisoner for four years before he escaped and made his way back to Donegal, travelling in freezing winter weather. On the 3rd May 1592 he was proclaimed Chieftain O'Domhnaill (O'Donnell) at the rock of Doon, at Kilmacrennan, County Donegal.

The O'Donnells fought in the Nine Years War against the English with their allies, the Maguires and the O'Neills. The Battle of Curlew Mountain was one of Red Hugh's greatest victories. In 1601 help arrived from Spain for the Irish. The Spanish forces landed in Kinsale and Red Hugh set out on the long journey to meet them. The English army, led by Lord Mountjoy, arrived to lay siege to the town and this resulted in the Battle of Kinsale in December 1601. The battle was won by the English and the Irish retreated back to Ulster.

Red Hugh left Ireland and travelled to Spain to seek help. After nine months he was struck down by an illness and dies at the age of thirty. He is buried in Vallidolid in Spain.

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