The Flight Of The Earls , 4 September 1607

The Flight of the Earls took place on September 4th 160 and was a pivotal point in Irish history , when the last remaining of the Old Irish nobility fled the country. Hugh O’Neill , Earl Of Tyrone , and his followers – Rory O’Donnell , Earl Of Tyrconnell , and Cuconnacht Maguire Of Fermanagh – were defeated in the Nine Years War against Queen Elizabeth I.

To ensure the old Gaelic system was finally broken in Ulster as the rebels had to renounce their Gaelic titles and ancestral rights , and live by English law. In return , they avoided the confiscation of their land and where pardoned.

However , English officials in Ireland tried to bring these Gaelic lords totally under English rule , if not dispossess them altogether. O’Neill and O’Donnell became involved in a secret plan with the Spanish that would have led to another rebellion. When they were summoned to Dublin , they believed that the plot had been betrayed. Rather than face a trial and probable execution , they and their followers sailed from Rathmullen , County Donegal , for Spain , on September 4 , 1607.

Their ship landed in France from where the exiles travelled to Rome. Although they probably intended to return to Ireland with Spanish troops , the earls remained in Rome until their deaths , surviving on a papal pension. Their flight is usually seen as the end of the Gaelic order in Ireland and paved the way for the Ulster plantation.

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