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                                               14th Century Ireland - Donal O'Neill (died 1325)


Donal O'Neill, ancestor of Phelim Roe O'Neill, was Rí [King] of Ulster in the early 14th century. In 1315 he invited Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, to join the Ulster chiefs in a rising against the English. Robert's brother, Edward Bruce, Earl of Carrick, landed at Larne with 6,000 troops and together with O'Neill's soldiers marched south to defeat the English at Ards, Dundalk and Ardee. The combined Scots and Irish army marched to Coleraine where they succeeded in persuading the O'Conors to abandon their allegience to Richard de Burgh, the English Earl of Ulster. The Earl's forces attacked O'Neill's army but were defeated and on the 2nd of May, 1316 Edward Bruce was declared King of Ireland at Dundalk.
Robert the Bruce landed at Carrickfergus with reinforcements in late 1316 and in the Spring of 1317 the combined Scots Irish army marched south to Cashel and Limerick but were deterred by the news that Roger Mortimer, Edward II's lieutenant, had landed reinforcements at Youghal.
Soon after Donal O'Neill and 22 Irish Chieftains sent a Remonstrance in Latin to Pope John XXII asking him to support them against the English but the Pope supported King Edward II's army.
In October, 1318 Edward Bruce was assassinated at Dundalk and his head sent to London. The Irish and Scottish troops dispersed and many of the Ulster Chiefs were executed, including Donal O'Neill's son Brian. O'Neill was expelled from his lands in Tyrone by John de Bermingham and was forced to go 'on the run'. He hid in the Fermanagh mountains in fear of his life for seven years before dying at Loch Leary, Ardstraw, County Tyrone in 1325. This translation of the Remonstrance is by the Rev. Robert King and was first published in King's Church History of Ireland Vol.III (1851).©

For ever since that time, when the English upon occasion of this grant aforesaid [the 1155 Bull Laudibiliter of Pope Adrian IV], and under the mask of a sort of sanctity and religion, made their unprincipled aggression upon the territories of our realm, they have been endeavouring with all their might, and with every art which perfidy could employ, completely to exterminate and utterly to eradicate our people from the country. And by their acts of low false cunning, they have so far prevailed against us, that after having violently expelled us, without regard to the authority of any superior, from our spacious habitations and patrimonial inheritance, they have compelled us to repair, in the hope of saving our lives, to mountainous, woody and swampy, and barren spots; and to the caves of the rocks also, and in these like beasts, to take up our dwelling for a length of time.
Nay, even in such places they are incessantly molesting us, and exerting themselves to the utmost of their power to expel us from them with audacious falseness asserting, in the depth of the frenzy which blinds them, that we have no right to any free dwelling place in Ireland but that this whole country belongs of right, entire and entirely to themselves alone. Whence it is that on account of these and many other like atrocities, there have arisen, between us and them, enmities irreconcilable and wars without end. From which have followed mutual slaughters, continual depredations, constant rapine, and instances of perfidy and fraud of detestable character, and too frequently repeated.
But alas, our miserable fate! for want of a fit ruling authority, the correction and redress of these evils, which are so justly due to us, we look for in vain... For we hold it as an undoubted truth, that in consequence of the aforesaid false suggestion and the grant [Bull Laudibiliter] thereupon founded, more than 50,000 persons of the two nations - from the time when the grant was made to the present date - have perished by the sword, independently of those who have been worn out by famine, or destroyed in dungeons. These few observations, relative to the general origin of our progenitors and the miserable position in which the Roman Pontiff has placed us, may suffice for the present occasion. Know further, Most Holy Father, that King Henry of England, to whom the grant was made, allowing him to invade Ireland in the manner aforesaid, and likewise the four kings who succeeded Henry, have plainly transgressed the limits of the conditions on which the grant was made to them in the Papal Bull according to the distinct articles contained in it, as is clearly evident from a reference to the substance of the Bull itself...
For it is those people who, by their deceitful and crafty scheming, have alienated us from the monarchs of England, hindering us, to the very great detriment of the king and realm, from holding lands - those lands which are our own by every rightful title - as voluntary tenants immediately under those princes; between whom and us they are sowing everlasting discord under the powerful influence of their covetous desires to get possession of our lands. This, indeed, seems to be a peculiarly characteristic habit of theirs, and one that gives rise to many an act of perfidy and fraud - that they never cease from sowing such discords in their unprincipled way, not only between such as are distant in blood from one another, but also between brothers and near kinsmen. And seeing that in their circumstances and language, as well as in their actions, they are alien from us, and from other people to a far greater extent than can possibly be described in any writing or statement, all hope of our maintaining peace with them is therefore entirely out of the question. For such a spirit of pride are they possessed of, and such an excessive passion for tyrannizing over us, and such a proper and natural determination have we formed to shake off the intolerable yoke of their bondage and recover our inheritance, which, in defiance of all justice, they have so wickedly seized upon, that as there never has been hereforto so neither will it ever be possible in future, that any sincere concord can be established, or maintained, between us and them in this life...
Let no man then be surprized if we are endeavouring to save our lives and making whatever efforts we can to defend the privileges of our independence against these cruel tyrants and usurpers of our rights, especially as the said king [Edward II], who was at that time styling himself the lord of Ireland, as well as the aforesaid kings his predecessors, have totally failed in our own case and in the case of most of our people, to secure to us the titles of possessions of our several properties. If then upon these grounds we are driven to fight with the king himself and our enemies aforesaid now resident in Ireland, we are herein doing nothing unlawful, but are, on the contrary, engaged in a highly meritorious undertaking... Therefore, without any remorse of conscience whatsoever, we will fight with them as long as life shall last in defence of our rights, never to cease from fighting with them and annoying them, until they, for default of power, give over their unjust worrying of us.
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