MacDonald, Finula (fl. 1569–1592)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

MacDonald, Finula (fl. 1569–1592)

Queen of Tirconnell (or Tir Chonaill) . Name variations: (nickname) Inghean Dubh; Finula O'Donnell. Flourished between 1569 and 1592; daughter of James MacDonald of Isla and Agnes (Campbell) MacDonald; married Hugh O'Donnell, king of Tirconnell or Tir Chonaill, in 1569; children: Hugh Roe O'Donnell, known as Red Hugh (1572–1602, who married Finula O'Neill ); Ruaidhrí O'Donnell (1575–1608); daughter Nuala O'Donnell (fl. 1608–1617); and at least two other sons.

Finula MacDonald, wife of Hugh O'Donnell, king of Tirconnell, was determined that her son Hugh Roe O'Donnell, known as Red Hugh, succeed his father. At age 16, Red Hugh was taken hostage by Sir John Perrott and imprisoned in Dublin Castle where he spent the next four years until his escape in bitter winter weather to his parents' castle in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. Frostbite necessitated amputation of his two big toes. Meanwhile, his competitor for clan leadership, Hugh O'Gallagher, was gaining strength. Finula invited O'Gallagher to visit her house at Mongavlin and had him killed. In 1590, she also had another threat, Donnell O'Donnell, killed at Doire Leathan, Tirconnell. Her influence and military strength contributed decisively to her son's succession as king of Tirconnell in 1592. Finula's daughter Nuala O'Donnell was the subject of a poem, "Truagh liom Máire agas Mairghrég," by Fearghal Óg mac an Bharid. Nuala lived in Rome in exile.