Hugh Dubh O'Neill

Hugh Dubh O'Neill

Hugh Dubh O'Neill

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Hugh Dubh O'Neill, 5th Earl of Tyrone ("Black Hugh", meaning "swarthy" or "dark tempered") (1611–1660) was an Irish soldier of the seventeenth century. He is best known for his participation in the Irish Confederate Wars and in particular his defence of Clonmel in 1650.

O'Neill was a member of the O'Neill dynasty, the leaders of which fled Ireland in the flight of the Earls in 1607. Hugh Dubh's father, Art Og O'Neill, was among those exiles who made careers for themselves in the Spanish Army of Flanders. Hugh Dubh was, as a result, born in Brussels in 1611 and grew up in the Irish military community there, becoming a professional soldier and serving in the Irish regiment of the Spanish army in Flanders during the Eighty Years' War against the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

In 1642, his uncle, Owen Roe O'Neill, organised the return of 300 Irish officers in the Spanish service to Ireland to support the Irish Rebellion of 1641. O'Neill's men became the nucleus of the Ulster army of Confederate Ireland - a de facto independent Irish state. Hugh Dubh was captured early in the war by Scottish Covenanter enemies, but was exchanged back to his own side after the Confederate victory at the Battle of Benburb in 1646. He subsequently rose to prominence after the death of his commander, Owen Roe O'Neill, in 1649.

In 1649, after the onset of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Hugh Dubh was sent south with 2000 of the best Ulster troops to defend...
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