Hugh O'Donnell

O'Donnell, Hugh, surnamed "Balldearg" — (Red-spot — from a blood mark), a prominent character in the War of 1689-'91, was born in Donegal, in the middle of the 17th century. He was either a grandson of Caffar, brother of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, or a grand-nephew of Niall Garv. After serving several years in the Spanish army, where he rose to be a brigadier, he, in 1689, asked leave to enter James II.'s service, and on being refused, threw up his command and appeared in Ireland, where he was hailed with enthusiasm by numbers of his countrymen, who, placing faith in an ancient prophecy, believed him destined to deliver their land from its connexion with England. He was commissioned by James II. to command an irregular force of some 5,000 men, raised mainly by himself; but in consequence of the jealousy of other Irish officers, was not permitted to take much part in the regular operations of the war. He carried on a desultory warfare in James's interest, and had to trust to forced requisitions for the provisioning and arming of his force. After the battle of Aughrim he went over, with 1,200 men, to the Williamite side, on being secured a pension of £500 per annum. His services in Sligo against his former friends will be found detailed in D'Alton's Annals of Boyle. After the capitulation of Limerick, he retired to Spain, served three years in Piedmont, and in 1695 was appointed a major-general. He probably died about 1703, as his pension does not appear to have been paid after that date.


197b. James II.—Irish Army List: John D'Alton. 2 vols. London, 1861.