Thursday, 23 August 2018

The O'Neill Baronetcy (1666)

At Killelagh, County Antrim, close to Lough Neagh, there are said to be remains of a castellated building, formerly the seat of a branch of the powerful family of O'Neill. Little is known of its scanty remains, though apparently a part of the walls of its courts and gardens still stand.
Ulster remained firmly in the control of the Clanaboy O'Neills until 1608. The family fought on both sides of the civil wars that racked Ireland from 1642-93. The end result was a significant loss of territory and influence due to political alliances and an influx of new families flowing in from Scotland and England.
NIALL, son of Hugh MacFelim Baccach, had great disputes with Sir Brian MacFelim O'Neill regarding territory.

Niall married and had issue, firstly, Niall Oge of Killelagh; and secondly, Hugh.

NIALL OGE O'NEILL, of Killelagh, son of Niall O'Neill, married and was father of

SIR HENRY O'NEILL (c1625-80), of Edenduffcarrick (Shane's Castle), who married, ca 1655, Eleanor, daughter of Sir William Talbot Bt, and had issue,
NEIL, his heir;
DANIEL, succeeded his brother;
During the trouble of 1641, Sir Henry's estate was forfeited.

It was, however, restored in 1665, and he conformed to the established church.

In 1666, he was created a baronet, denominated of Killelagh, County Antrim.

Sir Henry's son and heir,

SIR NEIL O'NEILL, 2nd Baronet (c1658-90), of Shane's Castle, wedded, in 1677, Frances, daughter of Caryll, 3rd Viscount Molyneux, and had issue, four or five daughters.

Sir Neil boyhood was spent on the shores of Lough Neagh, in and around the townland of Ballyginniff, where an old ruin, beside the Milltown, still marks the spot of his ancestral castle.

In 1678, he inherited the family honours and estates.

In 1688, Sir Neil was in Dublin "concerting measures" with his uncle Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell; and, in 1689, he was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim; about which time he raised a regiment of dragoons, numbered the 11th, in the service of JAMES II.

He served with his regiment at the siege of Londonderry.

At the battle of the Boyne, Sir Neil, at the head of his regiment, defended "with great gallantry" the passage over that river at Slane.

On this occasion, Sir Neil was severely wounded in the thigh and he died soon afterwards at Waterford, having followed the king to that city.
He was interred at the Franciscan Priory in Waterford, having died in July, 1690, aged 32.

Sir Neil O'Neill. Photo credit: Tate

Sir Neil left his family unprovided for.

However, in 1703, his estates at Killelagh and Kilmakevit - including 19 townlands - were sold at Chichester House in Dublin.

He left no male heir but was succeeded in the title by his only brother,

SIR DANIEL O'NEILL, 3rd Baronet, who wedded, ca 1690, Mary, daughter of Sir Gregory Byrne Bt, and had issue, an only child, Eleanor, who married Hugh O'Reilly.

The title and estates were forfeited by a posthumous act of attainder in 1691.

On petitioning the government, Sir Neil's widow was granted a 41-year lease on the Killelagh estate in 1700, which she sold the following year.

Lady O'Neill died in 1732.

First published in March, 2011.

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