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SIR PHELIM

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 111 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR PHELIM O'NEILL (c. 1603-1653), a kinsman and younger contemporary of the earl of Tyrone, took a prominent part in the rebellion of 1641. In that year he was elected member of the Irish parliament for Dungannon, and joined the earl of Antrim and other lords in concerting measures for supporting Charles I. in his struggle with the parliament. On the 22nd of October 1641 he surprised and captured Charlemont Castle; and having been chosen commander-in-chief of the Irish forces in the north, he forged and issued a pretended commission from Charles I. sanctioning his proceedings. Phelim and his followers committed much depredation in Ulster on the pretext of reducing the Scots; and he attempted without success to take Drogheda, being compelled by Ormonde to raise the siege in April 1642. He was responsible for many of the barbarities committed by the Catholics during the rebellion.' During the summer his fortunes ebbed, and he was soon superseded by his kinsman Owen Roe O'Neill, who returned from military service abroad at the end of July. OwEN ROE O'NEILL (c. 1590-1649), one of the most celebrated of the O'Neills, the subject of the well-known ballad " The Lament for Owen Roe," was the son of Art O'Neill, a younger brother of Hugh, and earl of Tyrone. Having served with distinction for many years in the Spanish army, he was immediately recognized on his return to Ireland as the leading representative of the O'Neills. Phelim resigned the northern command in his favour, and escorted him from Lough Swilly to Charlemont. But jealousy between the kinsmen was complicated by differences between Owen Roe and the Catholic council which met at Kilkenny in October 1642. Owen Roe professed to be acting in the interest of Charles I.; but his real aim was the complete independence of Ireland, while the Anglo-Norman Catholics represented by the council desired to secure religious liberty and an Irish constitution under the crown of England. Although Owen Roe O'Neill possessed the qualities of a general, the struggle dragged on inconclusively for three or four years. In March 1646 a cessation of hostilities was arranged between Ormonde and the Catholics; and O'Neill, furnished with supplies by the papal nuncio, Rinuccini, turned against the Scottish parliamentary army under General Monro, who had been operating with fluctuating success in Ireland since April 1642. On the 5th of June 1646 O'Neill utterly routed Monro at Benburb, on the Blackwater; but, being summoned to the south by Rinuccini, he failed to take advantage of the victory, and suffered Monro to remain unmolested at Carrickfergus. For the next two years confusion reigned supreme among the numerous factions in Ireland, O'Neill supporting the party led by Rinuccini, though continuing to profess loyalty to Ormonde as the king of England's representative. Isolated by the departure of the papal nuncio from Ireland in February 1649, he made overtures for alliance to Ormonde, and afterwards with success to Monck, who had superseded Monro in command of the parliamentarians in the north. O'Neill's chief need was supplies for his forces, and failing to obtain them from Monck he turned once more to Ormonde and the Catholic confederates, with whom he prepared to co-operate more earnestly when Cromwell's arrival in Ireland in August 1649 brought the Catholic party face to face with serious danger. Before, however, anything was accomplished by this combination, Owen Roe died on the 6th of November 1649. The alliance between Owen Roe and Ormonde had been opposed by Phelim O'Neill, who after his kinsman's death expected to be restored to his former position of command. In this he was disappointed; but he continued to fight against the parliamentarians till August 1652, when a reward was offered for his apprehension. Betrayed by a kinsman while hiding in Tyrone, he was tried for high treason in Dublin, and executed on the loth of March 1653. Phelim married a daughter of the marquis of Huntly, by whom he had a son Gordon O'Neill, who was member of parliament for Tyrone in 1689; fought for the king at the siege of Derry and at the battles of Aughrim and the ' See W. E. H. Lecky, Hist. of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, i. 66-68 (Cabinet edition, 5 vols,, London, 1892). Boyne; and afterwards commanded an Irish regiment in the French service, and died in 1704.
End of Article: SIR PHELIM
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