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O'neill Coat of Arms / O'neill Family Crest

O'neill Coat of Arms / O'neill Family Crest

The famous O'NEILL sept of Ulster was not the only sept of the name in Ireland. A distinct O'Neill sept held a territory in Munster, in the barony of Bunratty, County Clare, and some of its descendants survive in that county. Another O'Neill sept was located in the barony of Rathvilly, County Carlow, and descendants of that sept are found in that region. The Ulster sept which furnished kings and high-kings of Ireland belonged to a territory covering County Tyrone, most of County Derry and part of County Donegal, called Tir Eoghan, from which County Tyrone takes its name. Sir Neill O'Neill of Killeleagh, died 1690 in the Battle of the Boyne. The O'Neills are a branch of the ancient royal family of Tara. They are said to have the oldest traceable genealogy in Europe, starting from around 360, their surname being the first hereditary surname ever adopted in Ireland; it was assumed by Donell O'Neill, grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The red hand of Ulster is taken from the arms of the O'Neill family. In post-medieval times they held the titles of Earl of Tyrone and Earl of Clan Connell. Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (1540-1616) was the leader of an Irish Catholic revolt against English rule (1593-1603). After the 'flight of the earls' in 1603, some of the family settled in Europe, where descendants included Jorge O'Neill (died 1901) a peer of Portugal, who was also styled Comte de Tyrone, having been certified by Somerset Herald in 1896 to be a lineal descendant of the royal house of O'Neill. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.


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last updated on: April 3rd, 2017

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