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Sweeney History



Doe Castle, Summer 2006




The Sweeney Clan Committee has decided to postpone the biannual Clan Rally which was due to take place this September. It will now take place in September 2008. The four hundredth anniversary of the Flight of the Earls celebrations which are taking place this September at Rathmullan being the reason for the postponement. The Sweeney’s were not involved in the actual event four hundred years ago and we have found that there is no great enthusiasm among our members to participate, preferring to celebrate thing which are of our clans historic origins. None of the Flight of the Earls celebrations include Doe Castle or any of the other Sweeney sites of interest, and we feel that in the best interest of our members we should postpone to next year when once again we will invite all our friends from all parts of the world to join us in Donegal for another great Sweeney Clan Gathering. Anyone wishing to travel to the Flight of the Earls celebration will find plenty of entertainment with the main events taking place in Rathmullan. For further information: 

- A Quick History -

The 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls will be commemorated in Ireland this year with many celebrations being planned all over Ireland and especially in Donegal where the event took place in Rathmullan in 1607. Many clans in Donegal will be organizing and taking part in the commemorations.

For those who may not be up to speed with this great historic event, we add the following snippets for your information. 

The loss of the Battle of Kinsale marked the defeat of the old Gaelic Ireland which led to the decision by Earls O’Neill and O’Donnell to leave for Europe.

‘Hugh O Neill, on hearing of the death of Red Hugh O’Donnell by poisoning in Spain, and seeing his enemies pressing against him on every side, knew that his cause was lost. A ship was prepared in Brussels to enable him and those closest to him, to escape from the country, while that was still possible. The ship was brought to Rathmullan by his close friend and fellow soldier, Hugh Maguire of Fermanagh.

O’Neill wept as he left his castle in Dungannon for the last time and headed north to Rathmullan. He was  aged 58.’*

The Earl of Tyrconnell Rory O’Donnell and his faithful followers were busy loading the ship with supplies when the Earls O’Neill and O’Donnell arrived in Rathmullan. The ship flying the French colours lay at anchor in the bay and rowing boats carried the provisions to the ship….. and were stoned by the MacSweeneys who saw the departure as a betrayal by O’Neill.*

*…from ‘The MacSweeneys’ by Fr. David OFM Cap.

The company on board ship numbered more than ninety and at midnight on September 14th 1607 they sail from Ireland with heavy hearts.

The Annals of the Four Masters on that date recorded:

‘That was a distinguished company for one ship. For true it is that the sea has not borne, nor the wind wafted from Ireland in modern times a party more eminent, illustrious and noble than they were, in point of genealogy, or more distinguished for deeds of renown, feats of arms, and valorous achievements.  Woe to the heart that meditated, woe to the mind that planned, woe to the counsel that determined on that project.’


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