On this page you will find stories,poems and anecdotes that I have come across while I have been investigating this topic. I will continue to add to this page as others come to light. Your contributions would be most welcome.
A list of items required by Donnell Ballagh in the tower in 1615. Can you decifer the list and let me know what you think so that I can check my translation.



This poem tells the story of the strong links between the north of Ireland and Scotland. Finvola was from the O'Cathan clan and had married a Scot. She was brought back to Dungiven for burial on he death.






In the lands of O'Cahan, where bleak mountains rise,
O'er whose brown ridgy tops now the dusty clouds flies,
Deep sunk in a valley a wild flower did grow,
And her name was Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And he name was finvola, the gem of the Roe.

From the isles of Aebudae, appeared to our view,
A youth clad in tartan, tis as strange as tis true,
With a star on his breast, and unstrung was his bow,
And he sighed for Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And he sighed for Finvola , the gem of the Roe,


No more up the streamlet her maidens shall hie,
For wan the cold cheek, and bedimmed the blue eye,
In silent affliction our sorrows shall flow,
Since gone is Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
Since gone is finvola, the gem of the Roe.


Dungiven

Dungiven means Givens fort and is the meeting place of three rivers, The Roe, the Owenright and the Owenbeg.

Dungiven, when darkness and silence surrounds you,
Enfolding your mountains that rise by the Roe,
I think of the glories that covered and crowned you,
Your power and splendour in days long ago,

Here stood the strong castle and halls of O'Cathain,
Here spread the broad acres held under his sway,
Beyond the Moyola,the Bann and the Faugan,
And here lies the dust of their chieftain today,

Yes, here does he rest in your old church, Dungiven,
Who often in battle defeated the foe,
Enfurled Erin's flag in the free winds of heaven,
And marshalled his troops on the banks of the Roe,

(anon)


Letter from Donnell Ballagh O'Cathain a prisoner in the Tower of London to his brother Manus in Ireland asking for help.

Brother Manus, I command me unto you and let you understand that if I had friends to follow my business since I come hither,my imprisonment would be shorter by half. For my innocency hath (God be praised) been known and heard. Wherefore, if ever you look , or rather desire my release ,which you both should, and I think do, or if you be not so deep an gather in false accusing me as others have been liars in the matter, and therefore wish rather my death than my relief; if these things, I say, hinder you not, then perform a brotherly part to gain yourself a loving brother; and gather both from yourself and from others your best help, that either yourself or some others might come with my wife hither to sue for my liberty, if by that time I have it not. Nor let covetous hope of lands debar you from this, for look on Torlagh M’Art Oge, who had a patent for the whole land, and whose company slew Sir Cahir O’Dogherty, with what hath he to any purpose? or what hath Cuconnagh McGuire’s son, Brian I mean? Less (I say no more) that ever I offer you. But if villainous ( which is not to be feared in any in any human creature) or dunghill cogitations should ( by the devil’s motion) hinder you from this good office then I contest and call to witness God, his holy angels, the whole world, and that country especially, that Manus O'Cathain hath served Donell Ballagh so. Nor blame me for being thus ernest otherwise. Thus in haste I bid you farewell, resting always your assured loving brother.
Tower 1 June 1610. S.P. Ireland vol. 229, 126

This letter was passed to Chichester by Manus and was used as further evidence against him to keep him in the Tower.

This is an interesting letter and I wonder how it was written and how it got delivered to Ireland. Another investigation I think, any takers?



Donald Og O’Cathain.
Donnell oge (Donald the younger) or Donnell Geimhleach (Donald of the fetters). He was the son of O’Cathains third wife Honora O’Cathain and was conceived in the Tower when she went to London in 1613 to petition for his release.
The is poem by Alice Milligan tells of the loss of their lands and status during and after the plantation.

Donald Og O’Cathain sits high amid Sawell’s snow.
The woodlands wide of Glenconkeine and the valleys lie below.
And of all the fair lands and the far on which he looks down.
There was not one acre left to him by the knaves of London town.

They had meted out the pasture lands Bann River windeth through.
Their flocks have fed from the Northern Sea to where the the Foyle is broad and blue.
They have claimed the salmon that leap in the streams and shine through the waves on the shore.
And have built a church of heretics where St. Columba knelt before.

There is not one acre left to him, nor to any land to his line.
No house at Enagh or Faughan Vale, no cattle in Glenconkeine,
No ship on the wide ancestral lough to sail o’er the Scottish sea,
And the son of chiefs in the land of his sires is a homeless Rapparee.
Alice Milligan.


The Inaugeration of the new chief.
The new O’Neill chief is inaugurated on the inauguration stone at the sacred site Tullyhogue. The new chief is escorted to the stone by O’Hagan who by tradition was the custodian of the inauguration site. The rod of kingship was given to the new king by O’Cathain, the senior sub king to O’Neill. O’Cathain proclaimed to the assembled Gaelic Nobles the title, name and duties of the new king. O’ Hagan read the law and O’Mellon administered the oath on St. Patrick’s bell. O’Neill offered his shoe to O’Cathain who cast it over O’Neill’s shoulder. This act has it’s roots in scripture (Psalms 60 and 108.9) by symbolizing a renunciation of authority and dedication to the will of the people.

By tradition ‘The O’Neill’ inaugurated the new O’Cathain chief by conferring the title “eriagh thee O’Cathain”, Chief of the O’Cathains. Donnell Ballagh was the last was the last chief.



16th century sketch of the inauguration of The O’Neill at Tullyhogue. Ceremony conducted by O’Cathain O’ Hagan and O’Mellon.