We Irish have many 400th anniversaries, but few that can celebrate a happy event, given the state of our nation back in 1613. Leading Gaelic nobles had been exiled, their lands, especially in Ulster, planted with foreigners, their people destitute, dispersed to the forests and hills of Donegal, or emigrants, camped beside the Tower of London waiting for their lords to be freed, or tramping the roads of France as beggars, the womenfolk filling the brothels of Paris, Madrid and other cities.
With O'Donnell dead, and the Great Rebel Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone effectively imprisoned and isolated in Rome, the de facto leadership of the Gaelic "government in exile" fell to his nephew, Owen Roe O'Neill, commander of the Irish regiment in the Spanish army in the Netherlands, and later field marshall, and governor of the strategic town of Arras. For 30 years, Owen Roe secured the survival of his army, through peace and war on behalf of Spain, and nurtured its cadre of highly skilled military officers, mostly sons of the Gaelic families. Eventually, he succeeded in his life long ambition, to bring his military staff back to Ireland (1642), and build a disciplined army from the, by then, almost savage remnants of his people, His great victory as general of the Ulster Catholic army at Benburb (1646) is probably the last victory by a Gaelic commander in Irish history.
In an age of atrocious brutality, Owen Roe was regarded by friend and foe alike as a humane and decent military commander. He was also non-sectarian in the conduct of warfare.
Continued at http://bit.ly/1ao3zoW.