[MR] Red Hugh O'Donnell

Garth Groff via Atlantia atlantia at seahorse.atlantia.sca.org
Sat Dec 12 02:44:31 PST 2015

Noble Friends,

This week I will be giving a public lecture about the Scottish great 
kilt. The kilt first appears in history in 1594 when the king of 
Tyrconnell Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill ( aka Red Hugh O'Donnell) hired 
Scottish mercenaries for his campaign to free Ireland from the English. 
This event is described in the 1616 book BEATHA AODH RUADH Ó DOMHNAILL 
("The Life of Red Hugh O'Donnell", as its 1948 English translation is 
called) by Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh. While preparing for the class, I decided 
to read up a bit on O'Donnell.

The O'Donnell (yes, in the form of the time, "The O'Donnell" is correct 
for a clan chief) is a complex character. Despite being very young, he 
was a daring warrior and a successful military commander. He was also 
quite brutal, once smashing the head of his infant nephew against a wall 
for treason by the child's father. Today O'Donnell is revered as an 
Irish patriot (which he was), and there is a movement to have him 
cannonized a saint (which he probably doesn't deserve for his 
brutality). If you would like to know more about Red Hugh O'Donnell, you 
can read a brief biography at 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Roe_O%27Donnell . A very cleaned-up 
O'Donnell is the central character of the 1966 Disney movie, THE 

O'Donnell's mother Iníon Dubh, a Scottish noble woman, is also quite 
interesting. She was born a MacDonald, and her family connections partly 
explain how her son was able to recruit the Scottish mercenaries for his 
wars (not that the Scots ever missed a chance to be paid for knocking 
English heads together). She has her own Wikipedia page: 

Finally, to my surprise, Wikipedia offers a bio page on Lughaidh Ó 
Cléirigh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lughaidh_Ó_Cléirigh . If find it 
interesting that Ó Cléirigh was a scholar in the employ of the O'Donnell 
family. This suggests that at least some of his account was from 
personal observation, quite possibly the description of the kilts.

Yours Aye,

Lord Mungo Napier, That Crazy Scot

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