O'Neill (No.3) family genealogy

Princes of Clanaboy [1]

Arms:[2] Per fesse wavy the chief ar. the base representing waves of the sea, in chief a dexter hand couped at the wrist gu. in base a salmon naiant ppr. Crest: An arm in armour embowed the hand grasping a sword all ppr. Motto: Lamh dearg Eirin.

Of the present Hereditary Princes of Clanaboy the Arms are: In chief ar. a dexter hand couped and erect, supported by two lions ramp. surmounted by three mullets, the whole gu., the base waves of the sea ppr. whereon a salmon naiant ppr. The shield is surmounted by a mediaeval princely crown [3] of three strawberry leaves. Crest: A dexter arm in armour embowed ppr. garnished or, holding in the hand a dagger also ppr., pommel and hilt gold. Motto: Coelo, solo, salo, Potentes. War Cry: Lamh dearg Eirin Abú.

In the old graveyard of Lower Langfield, near Drumquin, county Tyrone, there are two tombstones of the O'Neills with the following inscriptions—"Here lieth the body of Fardoragh O'Neill, who departed this life March 20, 1738, aged 99 years." The second—"Here lieth the body of Charles O'Neill, who dyed Desember the 8, 1739, aged 23 years." On the first stone the arms of O'Neill are cut in relief, and agree with the above, except that on the stone the arm embowed has behind it cross bones, (No Arms on the second stone).

The ruins of an old castle of the O'Neills are to be seen in the townland of Kerlish, near the graveyard.

AODH (OR HUGH) DUBH ONEILL, brother of Niall Ruadh, who is No. 112 on the "O'Neill" (No. 2) pedigree, Princes of Tyrone, was the founder of this House.

112. Hugh (6) Dubh O'Neill [4] (d. 1230): son of Hugh an Macaomh Teinleasg; surnamed "dubh," because he was dark-featured; was 12th in descent from Niall Glundubh, the 170th Monarch of Ireland; was Sovereign Prince of Tyrone, and King of Ulster, A.D. 1186. He defeated the English at Dungannon, in 1199; and in 1210 visited King John at Carrickfergus, but made no submission to him. Hugh Dubh m. and was succeeded by his son:

113. Donal (4) surnamed Oge (or the young); slain A.D. 1234.

114. Hugh (7), surnamed "Buidhe"[5] (or yellow), in Irish "Aodh Buidhe:" son of Donal Oge; was Prince of Tirowen from A.D. 1260 to 1283, when he died. From him is derived the name "Clanaboy" which in Irish was Clan Aodh Buidhe, meaning the "Clan of Yellow Hugh;" by which designation the territories which said Hugh then brought under his dominion have been known to this day. The House of Clanaboy maintained its sovereign rights down to the time of James I., of England; and such was its power in the time of Henry VIII., that (according to Cox, quoted by MacGeoghagan,) its representatives recovered from the English not only the territories called the "Clanaboys" and the "Ards," but also a tributary tax from "the British authorities of the Pale."

The Annals of the Four Masters record this Prince's death in the following terms:

"Hugh O'Neill, the fair Prince of Tyrone, the head of the generosity and valour of the Irish, the most distinguished man in the North for gifts and for wealth, the most dreaded and victorious of his House, and a worthy Heir to the Throne [6] of Ireland, was killed by Bernard MacMahon." . . .

Hugh (6) Buidhe O'Neill was succeeded by his eldest son:

115. Brian (1), or Bernard, Sovereign Prince of Tyrone and of Clanaboy, A.D. 1291, who was slain in 1295, and was succeeded by his son:

116. Henry (1), Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy, who was succeeded by his son:

117. Muriertach or Murtagh (7), anglicé Maurice, who was surnamed Ceannfada (meaning "long-headed" or prudent). He was Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy; lord of the baronies of Castlereagh, and Lower Ards, in the county Down; of the baronies of Tuam (now "Toome"), Antrim, Belfast, and Massarene; of the towns of Carrickfergus, Belfast, and Lisnegarry; and of the barony of Loghlinslin,[7] in the county Derry. He died A.D. 1395, and was succeeded by his son:

118. Brian (2), surnamed Ballach (or "freckled"). He was Sovereign of Clanaboy, and lord of the lordships over which his father had held sway. Having obtained several victories over the English and the O'Neill of Tyrone, this Brian was slain in 1425, under which date his death is recorded by the Four Masters, thus:

"Brian Ballach, the most distinguished man of his time for hospitality, goodness, and learning, and the knowledge of many sciences, was killed by the people of Carrick."

It was this Brian who imposed an eric on the English of Carrickfergus, Carlingford, etc., called "Brian Balla's eric," which was paid until it was by Act of Parliament discontinued in the reign of Henry VIII., and by Proclamation in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was succeeded by his son:

119. Hugh (8) Buidhe, Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy, whose name is honourably mentioned by the Four Masters. Had three brothers—1. Murtagh Ruadh, 2. Henry Caoch, [8] 3. Niall Galdha. This Hugh occupied an important position in the wars of his time; and was slain in 1444. He was m. to Finola, dau. of Charles O'Connor, lord of Offaley; she died a Nun in the Convent of Killeigh, in 1493. He was succeeded by his eldest son:

120. Conn (1) or Constantine, of Edendubh-carrig, Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy. Edendubhcarrig means "the brow of the dark rock," and was the name of the castle and domains where this Prince usually resided on the borders of Lough Neagh. In more modern times, as will be seen hereafter, this name was changed for that of Shane's Castle, when the estates passed under British influence to a junior branch of the family. This Conn is styled by the Four Masters: "Worthy heir to the throne of Ulster," and his death is by them recorded under A.D. 1482.

121. Niall (5), surnamed Mór (or the Great): son of Conn; married Innedubh, dau. of O'Donel Roe.[9] This Niall was celebrated for his valour and religion; the Annals of the Four Masters affirm that in 1497 the Convent of Carrickfergus was founded by him, by permission of the Holy See, for the benefit of the monks De Minor. de Observantia. The same Annals also mention him as the proprietor of the Castle of Edendubhcarrig, as well as the Castle of Carrickfergus. He died on the 11th of April, 1512, and, according to the Four Masters, "was a pious and learned Prince, able in the sciences of history, poetry, and music." He had four sons whose names appear in history in the following order: 1. Hugh,[10] whose descent is extinct, and who died Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy in 1524; 2. Brian Ballagh, of whom presently; 3. Niall Oge,[11] who died Sovereign Prince in 1537, and whose posterity ended with the late Miss O'Neill of Banville; 4. Phelim Baccagh, who never became Sovereign Prince of Clanaboy, but whose son Brian (known as Brian MacPhelim O'Neill) was renowned as such. This Phelim Baccagh, fourth son of Niall Mór, was the ancestor of the Lords O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, to whose branch of the family the estates of Edendubhcarrig devolved under British influence. (See Ware, quoted by O'Donovan in the Four Masters under the year 1555.) Brian MacPhelim's son, Shane, changed the name of Edendubhcarrig to "Shane's Castle," after his own name, and was chosen by the English Government for "Captain of Clanaboy," on the grounds that "he was a modest man that speaketh English;" which shows that it was no particular right on Shane's part, but merely his friendly disposition towards the English, that was the cause of their preference in his favour. (See State Papers, Vol. CIV., 28, August 23rd, 1583). Shane's son Henry conformed to the Protestant religion; was knighted, and got a patent from King James I., of the estates of "Shane's Castle;" and thus the old family domains of Edendubhcarrig passed to the posterity of the fourth son of Niall Mór, to the prejudice of the senior branch of the family who clung to the Catholic Faith.

122. Brian (3) Ballagh: second son of Niall Mór; was, according to the Four Masters, slain in 1529, by MacQuillan, "who went out of Carrickfergus in company and friendship with him." According to a letter from Captain Piers, serving in Ireland, to Secretary Walshingham, and dated 12th June, 1580, in the Second Volume of State Papers for Ireland (apud, A.D. 1580), this Prince for some time enjoyed the sovereignty of Clanaboy. That letter contains the following paragraph:

"O'Neill (Tyrone) was encamped before the town of Carrickfergus and the colour (or pretext) of his coming was to demand certain buying for one Brian Ballagh O'Neill, sometime Lord of Clanaboy, a kinsman of his, who was killed by the townsmen of Carrickfergus about sixty years past; and the buying forgiven by Sir Bryan McPhelim, in his life-time, and now, as it seemeth, newly revived by O'Neill."

That extract from the letter of Captain Piers shows that Brian MacPhelim O'Neill, representative of the junior branch of the Clanaboy family, courted British protection, and hastened to ignore the buying, and throw into oblivion the traditions of his senior kinsman.[12] Brian (3) Ballagh O'Neill [13] m., first, dau. of O'Neill, Prince of Tyrone; and, secondly, Sibile, dau. of Maguire of Fermanagh. His son by the first marriage was his successor:

123. Murtagh (8), Hereditary Prince of Clanaboy. A Memoir on the State of Ireland by Lord Chancellor Cusack, in 1552, states of this Murtagh: "In Clanaboy is one Murtagh Dulenach, one of the O'Neills, who hath the name as Captain of Clanaboy, but he is not able to maintain the same; he hath eight tall gentlemen to his sons and (yet) they cannot make past twenty-four horsemen. There is another sept in that country of Felim Baccagh's sons, tall men, which taketh part with Hugh McNeill Oge, till now of late." This again shows that, despite his efforts, Murtagh's power was fast declining, under the unceasing persecution of his junior kinsmen, the sons of Niall Oge and of Felim Baccagh, who, as we have already shown, enjoyed British preference and support. Murtagh, like his father, was a strenuous Roman Catholic, and, evidently, this circumstance did not contribute to make them favourites of the English. He married, Margaret, dau. of O'Byrne, of Wicklow, and had:

124. Daniel (5), who had:

125. Constantine (2), whose son and successor was:

126. Felix (1), who married a dau. of O'Neill of Kilultagh. He distinguished himself as Colonel under the celebrated Owen Roe O'Neill, in 1649; and was succeeded by his son:

127. Ever (1), who joined the National movements of the time; and married Catherine, daughter of Ever O'Neill, of Killitragh, ancestor of O'Neill, of Austria, Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, etc. He had a son:

128. Felix (2), who was an officer in Lord Galmoy's regiment for James II. He was deprived of the remnant of his family estates, under the persecution generally suffered by Roman Catholics in those Penal days in Ireland; and, after the surrender of Limerick, he followed King James II. to the Continent, and died on the field of battle of Malplaquet, on the 13th September, 1709, as an officer of the Irish Brigade. He was twice married: first, to Catherine Keating; and, secondly, to a dau. of O'Dempsey, Viscount Clanmaliere; he left only one son by his first marriage, namely Constantine.

129. Constantine (3), the said son of Felix (2); was a Citizen of Dublin, who married Cecilia, dau. of Felix O'Hanlon, a Capt. of Infantry in the Army of James II., who was the son of Colonel Edmond O'Hanlon, who is No. 125 on the "O'Hanlon" (Lords of Orior) pedi-gree. Constantine had three sons and seven daughters; the eldest son was:

130. John, who settled in Portugal, and purchased an estate on the left bank of the river Tagus, near Almada, in front of Lisbon. He is mentioned by the Italian traveller G. Barretti, in his Letterre Famigliari. In 1750 he m. Valentina, dau. of José Ferreira, a landed proprietor in the environs of Lisbon, from whose family descended maternally the families of Palyart, Clamanse, and of the French general De Negrier. This John had several sons and daughters; amongst the latter—Cecilia and Anna who both took the veil, and became successively Prioresses of the Convent of Irish Sisters of Bone Successo, near Lisbon, where they died and lie buried. Two of the sons d. without issue; and he was succeeded in the seniority of the name by his youngest son:

131. Charles, who was educated at the College of St. Omer, in France. He married in 1784 Anna-John, daughter of Jacob Torlade (Consul of the Hanseatic Cities at St. Ubes), son of Henry Torlade, a Judge and Banker in Hamburg in 1713, whose Coat of Arms is described under that date in the City Registers. Charles O'Neill possessed extensive landed property at St. Ubes and Lisbon; and received at his house at St. Ubes the visit of the King of Portugal, John VI. and his daus. the Infantas.[14] He was a Knight of the Order of Christ. He left three sons—1. José-Maria, 2. Joaquin, and 3. Henry; and several daus., all of whom left issue; the eldest son being also represented in the male line by the now (1887) existing members of the family.


[1] Clanaboy: In modern times some representatives of this family assumed the title-name of Castlereagh.

[2] Arms: In the earlier part of the history of the "O'Neill" (of Ulster) family the Arms were (as in "O'Neill" No. 1), the Red Right Hand, which a writer in Queen Elizabeth's time, designated as "that terrible cognizance;" and from which is derived the war-cry: Lamh dearg Eirin Abú, or "The Red Hand of Eirin for ever." In fact this warlike symbol is Ireland's heraldic emblem, par excellence: and is for her what the Roses are for England, and the Fleur-de-lis for France. The "O'Neill" Arms in this simple form appear in the ancient heraldic records; and we have it in the beautiful silver signet belonging to Hugh O'Neill (d. 1364), and described in p. 64 of Vol. I. of Ulster Journal of Archaeology. At a later period the Coat of Arms displays a greater number of figures, and we successively meet with the salmon (attributed to the O'Neill dominion over Lough Neagh), and more lately the mullets; and it is in the latter complete form that we find it used by Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, who had it represented in mosaic in natural colours on the tombstone of his son, at St. Pietro in Montorio, Rome; and also by Sir Daniel O'Neill, and the celebrated Owen Roe O'Neill, whose signet seal was discovered by the Rev. James Graves in the "evidence chamber" of Kilkenny Castle. It is this more elaborate display that the branches of the House of "O'Neill" of Clanaboy who emigrated to the Continent have adopted, and with it the parlant Motto of "Coelo, Solo, Salo, Potentes." We are told that in the archives of Shane's Castle, Antrim, an old MS. refers to this Motto: truly a fit one to revive the proud traditions of a family which, for the number of its Saints, of its Kings, and of its Heroes, can be said to be qualified as great in Heaven and on Earth. We cannot trace any origin for the mullets in the Arms of this family, we can only say that they are met with in the Arms of several other Irish families. As to the salmon it seems to be of a remote origin: it is on the tombstone of Cumagh-na-nGall O'Cahan (see No. 110 on the "O'Cahan" pedigree), who was Sovereign Prince of Limavady, in the latter end of the thirteenth century, and who was buried in the church of Dungiven; for, the "O'Cahan" family is an off-shoot of the "O'Neill," which explains the identity of this heraldic figure in their Arms!

[3] Crown: This Crown is no heraldic one. Crowns are believed to have been unknown to native Irish heraldry; but the House of O'Neill having maintained its sovereign honours down to the 17th century, a mediaeval princely crown was logically adopted by its more modern representatives, and is the one we meet with in the family signets of the last century. Although crowns and coronets were not adopted as an heraldic emblem in the display of the coat of Arms of the ancient Irish, they were in use as regal ornament, but their shape was apparently not subordinate to any heraldic rules. One of these crowns, found in 1692 under ground in Barnanely, is of pure gold, and is described by Dr. Petrie in the Dublin Penny Journal. On the tomb of Felim O'Connor, in Roscommon, and on that of Connor O'Brien (both reigning Princes), another form of Crown appears, which was in use in England and on the Continent by Sovereign Princes, till the 15th century.

[4] Hugh (6) Dubh O'Neill: Some authorities assume that Hugh Dubh O'Neill was the elder and not the younger brother of Niall Ruadh; that therefore, the Clanaboy branch of the "O'Neill" would be the senior; and, as such, the representative of Kinelowen.—See No. 111 on the "O'Neill" (No. 1) pedigree.

[5] Buidhe: In A.D. 1275, the English Municipality of Carrickfergus mention Aodh Buidhe O'Neill to King Edward I. of England, as: "Ad. O'Neill regem de Kinelowen." (See O'Callaghan's Irish Brigades in the Service of France.) Among the splendid collections of Lord Braye, there exists a beautiful silver seal, with the O'Neill badge carved thereon, and the legend: "Sigillum Adonis O'Neill, Regis Hiberniae coram Ultoniae," attributed to Hugh O'Neill.

The Clan of this Aodh (or Hugh) Buidhe passed the river Ban into Eastern Ulster or Antrim and Down; and wrested from the mixed population of old natives and the descendants of the English settlers, the territory hence designated "Clanaboy" or the Clan of Yellow Hugh.

The "Clanaboy" territory was divided into north and south; the former situated between the rivers Ravel and Lagan, embracing the modern baronies of the two Antrims, two Toomes, two Belfasts, Lower Massarene, and county of the town of Carrickfergus; the latter, south of the river Lagan, including the present baronies of Upper and Lower Castlereagh. Upon the hill of Castlereagh, about two miles from Belfast, was the stone chair on which the Rulers of the Clanaboy principality (of which Conn O'Neill, in the reign of James the First, was the last chief) were inaugurated. From the chieftain-line of this second "Hy-Niall," sprang the last lineal representative of the Clanaboy branch of the O'Neill in Ireland: namely, The Right Honourable John Bruce, Richard O'Neill, third Viscount and Baron O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, County Antrim; a Representative Peer of Ireland; General in the Army; Vice-Admiral of the Coast of Ulster; and Constable of Dublin Castle: b. at Shane's Castle, Dec., 1780; and deceased, February, 1855, in his 75th year. His estates devolved to the Rev. William Chichester, Prebendary of St. Michael's, Dublin, who hence took the name of "O'Neill;" and was, A.D. 1868, in the Peerage of Great Britain and Ireland, created "Baron O'Neill," of Shane's Castle, County of Antrim.—O'CALLAGHAN. (See the "O'Neill" (No. 4) pedigree, p. 736, infra.)

[6] Heir to the Throne: According to the Laws of Tanistry, all the members of the House of O'Neill were eligible to the Monarchy, as well as to the Chieftainship of any of the Principalities belonging to the family. They had therefore a right to be styled Heirs to the Throne of Ireland, and of Ulster; Hereditary Princes of Tyrone, of Clanaboy, etc.

[7] Loghlinslin: A very interesting relic of the regal power of the Princes of Clanaboy was to be seen some years ago in the house of a gentlemen of elegant tastes, namely, Mr. R. C. Walker, of Granby Row, Dublin. It was, according to Dr. Petrie, the coronation chair of their sovereigns.

[8] Henry Caoch: According to the Rev. Dr. Reeves, this Henry was a brother and not a son of Brian Ballach; but, according to Burke's "Vicissitudes of Families," Henry Caoch was son of Brian Ballach, No. 118. A lineal descendant of said Henry was Sir Francis O'Neill, who was married to a Miss Fleming, and who, being a Roman Catholic, "was robbed of his property in the course of law." Sir Francis then took a farm, but having a large family of fourteen children, he became encumbered with debt and was again ejected. His eldest son Henry went to Spain and served in his relative's regiment; last heard of in 1798. Another son John m. Catherine Murtagh, and had Francis, who, in 1859, was a working mill-wright in Drogheda. Another of the sons was James, who was a working baker in Dublin, and who d. in 1800. And Bryan, the youngest son, served as a soldier for many years in the Peninsula, etc.; was chief officer of the Newgate guard in 1830, and on its break up he took the house No. 95, Cook-street, where he resided in 1859, and where his eldest son carried on the business of a coffin-maker. (That son's name was Francis, who, in 1868, was the keeper of the Cork Model School, and who then had several children.)

[9] O'Donel Roe: The O'Neills and O'Donels often intermarried. They were worthy of each other for their pedigrees. On the Continent these two families always met with due consideration. In Austria, an O'Donnell married in 1754 a cousin of the Empress Maria Theresa, with the latter's consent; such was the esteem his pedigree was held in. As an illustration of the high consideration entertained for the Irish pedigrees on the Continent, we may quote the opinion of a learned French writer, M. Julés Paulet, du Parais, who, in his Manuel Complet du Blason, says: "L'aristocracie Anglaise in elle est la plus forte et la plus vivace de toute, est aussi de toute la plus nouvelle. Ses plus hautes pretentions ne remontent guére qu'aux Plantagenets, et l'on considére comme tres anciennes les races dont l'Illustration date des guerres des deux Roses. Comparez a ces généalogies celles des families patriciennes de Venise des grandesses Espagnoles, de ritters Allemands, celles de la noblesse Celtique d'Irlande, des O'Neills, des O'Brien, des O'Connor, voise celles des grands barons Francais contemporains de Charlemagne, et vous n'aurez qu'une médiocre estime pour les origines de la noblesse Britannique. Le sang des Howards lui-meme ne nous semblera pas aussi precieux."

[10] Hugh: This Hugh had Niall, who had Niall Oge of Killelagh, county Antrim; (his patent, A.D. 1606: Calendar Patent Rolls, Jac. I., p. 94; and Erck, p. 285), and Hugh, who was joined by his brother in the patent of 1606, and who (or his son; was the Hugh Mergach of the Inquisition, temp. King Charles I. (See Montgomery MSS., p. 137.

[11] Niall Oge: This Niall was the ancestor of Sir Daniel O'Neill (died 1669), who was Chamberlain to King Charles I., and Page of Honour to Charles II. The descent was as follows:

122. Niall Oge: son of Niall Mór. Had three sons—1. Aodh, of Belfast, slain 1555; 2. Conn; 3. Brian Ferlagh.

123. Brian Ferlagh (or Faghartach): son of Niall Oge; slain, 1548.

124. Niall: his son; 1577.

125. Conn, of Castlereagh: son of Niall; made a grant of Land in 1606; m. Ellice O'Neill. Had two sons—1. Hugh Buidhe [boy], 2. Conn Oge.

126. Conn Oge: his son; killed in 1643 at the Battle of Clones, after quarters had been granted.

127. Sir Daniel O'Neill: his son. Chamberlain to Charles I., and Page of Honour to Charles II. Married Lady Catherine Stanhope, widow of Henry Stanhope, son of Philip, first Earl of Chesterfield—According to the Rev. Dr. Reeves, this Sir Daniel was son of Conn Oge; but, according to the Montgomery MSS., p. 321, Sir Daniel was Conn Oge's brother.

[12] Kinsman: These family dissensions have long since passed away; and we are aware that the late Lord John Bruce Richard Viscount O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, who died in 1855, maintained a very friendly intercourse with his Portugese kinsmen.

[13] O'Neill: Brian Ballagh's descent is traced as follows, in a Pedigree written in Latin upon parchment in 1756, and preserved by the present representatives of the family, as one of the most precious relics of their tradition. This document is authenticated by the then Archbishop of Armagh; the Bishop of Dromore, who vouches "for the constant and not yet interrupted tradition," and his own "certain knowledge of its facts;" and other high Ecclesiastical authorities. All the signatures are legalised, and the whole is certified by the Prothonotary Apostolic, who bears witness in public faith to its truthfulness. In this Pedigree also Brian (3) Ballagh is declared to be, by hereditary right (hereditaria jure), Sovereign of the Upper and Lower Clanaboy.

[14] Infantas: This family has since received the visits of other members of the Portguese Royal Family at their houses at St. Ubes, namely: Queen Donna Maria-II.; King Don Ferdinand; King Don Peter V.; and his brothers Don John; and Don Luis, the present King.