Conn Bacach O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone

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Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill

Gaelic: 1st Earl of Tyrone Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill
Also Known As: "Conn the Lame", "Conn Bacach mac Cuinn Ó Néill", "Prince of Tyrone", "1st Earl of Tyrone"
Birthplace: Dungannon Castle, Dungannon, Tyrone, Ireland
Death: before July 16, 1559
Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Conn Mór O'Neill, King of Tír Eoghan and Eleanor FitzGerald
Husband of Mary O'Neill and Mary McDonnell
Partner of Allison Roth
Father of Matthew O'Neill, "Baron of Dungannon"; Séan O'Neill, the Proud, an Díomais; Tirlogh O'Neill; Mary O'Neill; Féilim Caoch Ó Néil, Prince of the Cenél nEógain and 1 other
Brother of Art Óg mac Conn O'Neill; Niall Ó Néill; Turlough O'Neill; John Ó Néill; Margaret O'Neill and 1 other

Occupation: King of Tir Eogain, Earl of Tyrone
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

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.
Con 'Baccach' O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone was born circa 1484.2 He was the son of Conn 'Mor' O'Neill, King of Ulster and Lady Eleanor FitzGerald.2 He married, firstly, unknown daughter O'Byrne, daughter of unknown O'Byrne.2 He married, secondly, Sarah O'Neill, daughter of Aedh Óg O'Neill.2 He and unknown daughter O'Byrne were divorced.2 He married, thirdly, Mary McDonnell, daughter of Sir Alexander 'Cannach' McDonnell, in October 1538.3 He died before 16 July 1559, while seeking refuge in the Pale from his son Shane an Diomais.3
Con 'Baccach' O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone also went by the nick-name of Con 'Baccach' (or in English, 'the Lame.4') He murdered Henry 'Og' O'Neill, King of Ulster on 21 July 1498.2 He gained the title of King of Ulster in 1519.2 He fought for a long period against the English to maintain his status as an independent sovereign, leading to his peerage.2 He was created 1st Earl of Tyrone [Ireland] on 1 October 1542, with special remainder to his illegitimate son Ferdoragh.1 He was appointed Privy Counsellor (P.C.) [Ireland] in 1543.2 Child of Con 'Baccach' O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone and Alison Kelly

Ferdoragh O'Neill, 1st Baron of Dungannon+3 d. 1558

Children of Con 'Baccach' O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone and unknown daughter O'Byrne Mary O'Neill+1 d. 1590

Phelim O'Neill2 d. 1542

Shane 'an Diomais' O'Neill+3 b. c 1530, d. 2 Jun 1567

Children of Con 'Baccach' O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone and Mary McDonnell

Henry 'Og' O'Neill3 d. b 1559

Conn O'Neill3 Citations [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 174. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage. [S37] BP2003 volume 2, page 3005. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S37] [S37] BP2003. [S37] [S8] BP1999 volume 1, page 90. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S8]

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

Dungannon Castle, Dungannon, Tyrone, Ireland
September 1500
Dungannon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Hillsborough Castle, Ireland
- 1559
Age 35
Tyrone, Galway, Galway, Ireland
- 1556
Age 58
July 16, 1559
Age 75
Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland