Conn Bacach O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone

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Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill

Also Known As: "Conn the Lame", "Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill", "Prince of Tyrone"
Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Tyrone,Ireland
Death: July 16, 1559 (75-83)
Dublin, Fingal, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Conn Mór Ó Néill, King of Tír Eógain and Lady Eleanor FitzGerald
Husband of Lady Alice Fitzgerald; Mary O'Neill and Mary McDonnell
Partner of Allison Roth
Father of Mary O'Neill; Johanna O'Neill; Féilim Caoch Ó Néil, Prince of the Cenél nEógain; ... O'Neill; Tirlogh O'Neill and 2 others
Brother of Art Óg mac Conn O'Neill; Judith O'Neill; Niall O'Neill; Turlough O'Neill; John O'Neill and 1 other

Occupation: , 1st Earl Of Tyrone, King of Tír Eógain.
Managed by: Private User
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About Conn Bacach O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone,_1st_Earl_of_Tyrone

Conn O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone (Irish: Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill) King of Tír Eógain, c. 1480–1559. His byname was Conn the Lame.

He was the first of the O'Neills to emerge as leaders of the native Irish as a result of England's attempts to subjugate the country in the 16th century. When his territory was invaded, he went to London to submit to Henry VIII who created him Earl of Tyrone. Conn Bacach was rejected by his people after his surrender to Henry VIII, chased out of Ulster, and his younger son elected as king. His family did not approve of an English title and there was much feuding, which led to the murder of one of his sons. Conn took refuge in Dublin, inside the Pale, where he died. Conn was succeeded by his son, Sean an Diomais (Shane the proud). Shane's followers murdered his half-brother, Matthew, and Shane himself was murdered by the MacDonnells of Antrim in revenge for the destruction by Shane of their Scottish settlements in the county.

At his death, Conn's lands and family were in turmoil; however, at the peak of his lengthy reign, he was the most powerful Irish king. He was known throughout Europe as a strong and able leader, a hearty warrior, and looked to by the Catholic world as a bastion of strength against the English crown, despite his conversion to the Protestant faith.

Family Life

Conn, who was related through his mother to the Earl of Kildare (Fitzgerald), became chief of the Tyrone branch of the O'Neills (Cinel Eoghain) about 1520.

Conn was twice married and had numerous sons. His first wife was Lady Alice Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare. His known sons were Phelim Caoch O'Neill. "Caoch" was the nickname for someone with poor eyesight or "the blind". Prince Phelim Caoch was killed on a raid against the MacDonalds by "a single thrust from a gallowglass", prior to his father's submission to Henry VIII. Shane O'Neill was also the son of his first wife. His second wife was Alice O'Neill a daughter of Hugh Boy O'Neill of Clanaboy. An illegitimate daughter of Conn married the celebrated Sorley Boy MacDonnell.

Conn's illegitimate son Matthew was nominated as his heir, with the title of Baron of Dungannon. Matthew's parentage was actually in doubt, and in addition this nomination by the king was contrary to the Irish law or custom of tanistry. Matthew was murdered by followers of Conn's son Shane in 1558, and Conn died the following year. Elizabeth I settled the chieftainship on Shane but gave the earldom to Matthew's son Hugh.

His family spread throughout Ireland, Scotland, Europe and the New World during the downfall of the Gaelic Order, and today there are numerous families with a direct descent from Conn.


  • Peter Berresford Ellis, Erin’s Blood Royal (2002), p. 252.


Conn O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone (Irish: Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill) (c. 1480–1559) was King of Tír Eógain.

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Conn Bacach O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone's Timeline

Age 32
Hillsborough Castle, Ireland
Age 35
Galway, Galway, Ireland
Age 37
- 1559
Age 39
Age 40
Galway, Galway, Ireland
Age 50
Tyrone, Ireland
- 1556
Age 62
July 16, 1559
Age 79
Dublin, Fingal, Ireland