This week’s theme from Debbie for One Word Sunday is RED


Red Hugh was born into Gaelic nobility c 1572 in northwest Ireland – the region we now call Donegal. When his betrothal to the daughter of the Earl of Tyrone was announced, the English feared the union of two such powerful families and (a common tactic in those days) kidnapped the boy – aged just 15.

He was brought to Dublin and kept prisoner in the dungeons of Dublin Castle for four years. He made one unsuccessful escape attempt but was luckier two years later and in 1592, in the depths of winter, he made it back across the mountains to Donegal, having lost his big toes to frostbite.

That same year, barely 20 years old, he was proclaimed chieftain of the O’Donnell clan. Red Hugh had little love for the English – especially after his imprisonment – and spent most of the next decade at war. But even an alliance of major clans was no match for the English army. Philip 11 of Spain promised money, men and military aide but the Spanish force that was sent to assist was also defeated in 1602. The Battle of Kinsale 1601/02 was a turning point in Irish history and marks English success in finally conquering Gaelic Ireland.

Red Hugh fled to Spain to petition the King for more help. He succumbed to a fever and died in Spain on 10th September, 1602 – OR – was he poisoned by an English assassin!.

He was aged 29.

He was buried, as he wished, in the monastery of St Francis in Valladolid.

In May 2020, archaeologists in Valladolid reported the discovery of bones at the possible last resting place of Red Hugh. Who knows – maybe DNA testing will some day solve the mystery of his death!

( You can see the above life size bronze sculpture in Donegal Town)

Link to One Word Sunday at Debbie’s  here

6 thoughts on “RED

    1. I suppose it is a tad sad for a lovely Spring Sunday! We don’t tend to think of it as a sad story really – we grew up thinking him a romantic hero! Imagine how cosseted and protected he’d be if he were born into nobility nowadays!!😅 😂

Leave a Reply