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O'Neill, Owen Roe

O'Neill, Owen Roe (c.1590–1649). O'Neill was the military linchpin of the Confederation, which struggled for control of Ireland after the rising of 1641. He was a nephew of Hugh O'Neill, 3rd earl of Tyrone, and spent his early years in the Spanish service. He was not in Ireland at the start of the rising but arrived in July 1642 and took over command of the Ulster army from Sir Phelim O'Neill. He managed to keep an army together through all the extraordinary political vicissitudes of the next few years and in 1646 gained a significant victory at Benburb over Monro and the Scottish army. But the end of the Civil War in England enabled Parliament to strengthen its position in Ireland. The Confederation split badly on political tactics and O'Neill was declared a traitor in 1648 for supporting the intransigent line of Rinuccini, the papal nuncio. Early in 1649 he reached an agreement with Monck, who commanded the parliamentary forces in Ulster. It is doubtful whether he could have put up much resistance to Cromwell, who landed in August 1649, but he died in November of the same year.

J. A. Cannon

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O'Neill, Owen Roe

Owen Roe O'Neill, 1590?–1649, Irish chieftain. Nephew of Hugh O'Neill, 2d earl of Tyrone, he left Ireland after the "flight of the earls" in 1607 and spent 30 years in the Spanish army, serving notably at Arras (1640). He returned to Ireland in 1642, superseded his kinsman Sir Phelim O'Neill as leader of the O'Neill clan, and for the next seven years led the Roman Catholic faction in the intermittently successful rebellion against English authority. O'Neill's death removed the only Irish general who might have been capable of resisting Oliver Cromwell.

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