Sir Phelim O'Neill

A direct descendant of the O'Neills who had fled from Ulster in 1607, his family was one of the few of that clan who had remained. However, his family felt their own lands and fortunes to be under threat from the Protestant settlers who had seized much of their ancestral lands. He became the leader of the 1641 rebellion particularly after the Dublin element failed to start. He was criticised by some Confederates for beginning his own rebellion in Ulster too early and thereby allowing government forces to react and defend Dublin at least. The ferocity of the uprising in Ulster caught many by surprise and O'Neill even felt compelled to call a stop on the horrific attacks on settlers and civilians. He did attempt to carry the rebellion towards Dublin but got held up at Drogheda which his forces failed to take. This failure helped condemn the rebellion to being a long drawn out affair with government forces holding on to Dublin and the all important ports for resupplying and bringing reinforcements into the country. He was increasingly sidelined especially after the arrival of Owen Roe O'Neill from the Continent to take charge of Confederate forces.

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by Stephen Luscombe