Who was Red Hugh O’Donnell? The ‘fiery’ symbol of Gaelic resistance

The discovery of his remains could shed light on a tumultuous chapter of Irish history.

Red Hugh O’Donnell (Ó Domhnaill) featured alongside Hugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone, in Brian Friel’s play, Making History, first performed in 1988 by the Field Day Theatre Company.

In the play Friel invites us to imagine Red Hugh’s character and personality just after his daring escape from Dublin Castle, where English officials had incarcerated him for four years, and before the onset of the Nine Years War (1594-1603) fought between Elizabeth I and these Gaelic lords that resulted in the completion of the English conquest of Ireland.

Friel portrayed the youthful Red Hugh as fiery, headstrong, quick-witted, passionate, committed to Catholicism, and to the preservation of the values, language, and culture of the Gaelic world into which he had been born and reared.

Above all, the determination to rid Ireland of its English overlords drove Red Hugh, as he allied with O’Neill and other local lords and sought diplomatic and military aid from the Spanish Habsburg king, Philip III.

Learn more about it in the original article on Irish Times.


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