CHAPTER VII. BATTLE OF GLENMALURE - SIR JOHN PERROTT'S ADMINISTRATION - THE SPANISH ARMADA - LORD DEPUTY FITZWILLIAM - ESCAPE OF HUGH ROE O'DONNELL FROM DUBLIN CASTLE - THE ULSTER CONFEDERACY FORMED.
The "profound dissembling mind" which English historians, his cotemporaries, attribute to O'Neil, was now brought into daily exercise. When he discovered money to be the master passion of the Lord Deputy, he procured his connivance at the escape of Hugh Roe O'Donnell from Dublin Castle. On a dark night in the depth of winter the youthful chief, with several of his companions, succeeded in escaping to the hills in the neighbourhood of Powerscourt; but, exhausted and bewildered, they were again taken, and returned to their dungeons. Two years later, the heir of Tyrconnell was more fortunate. In Christmas week, 1592, he again escaped, through a sewer of the Castle, with Henry and Art O'Neil, sons of John the Proud. In the street they found O'Hagan, the confidential agent of Tyrone, waiting to guide them to the fastness of Glenmalure. Through the deep snows of the Dublin and Wicklow highlands the prisoners and their guide plodded their way. After a weary tramp they at length sunk down overwhelmed with fatigue. In this condition they were found insensible by a party despatched by Feagh O'Byrne; Art O'Neil, on being raised up, fell backward and expired; O'Donnell was so severely frost-bitten that he did not recover for many months the free use of his limbs. With his remaining companion he was nursed in the recesses of Glenmalure, until he became able to sit a horse, when he set out for home. Although the utmost vigilance was exercised by all the warders of the Pale, he crossed the Liffey and the Boyne undiscovered, rode boldly through the streets of Dundalk, and found an enthusiastic welcome, first from Tyrone in Dungannon, and soon after from the aged chief, his father, in the Castle of Ballyshannon. Early in the following year, the elder O'Donnell resigned the chieftaincy in favour of his popular son, who was, on the 3rd of May, duly proclaimed the O'Donnell, from the ancient mound of Kilmacrenan.
The Ulster Confederacy, of which, for ten years, O'Neil and O'Donnell were the joint and inseparable leaders, was now imminent. Tyrone, by carrying off, the year previous to O'Donnell's escape, the beautiful sister of Marshal Bagnal, whom he married, had still further inflamed the hatred borne to him by that officer. Bagnal complained bitterly of the abduction to the Queen, charging, among other things, that O'Neil had a divorced wife still alive. A challenge was in consequence sent him by his new brother-in-law, but the cartel was not accepted. Every day's events were hastening a general alliance between the secondary chieftains of the Province and the two leading spirits. The O'Ruarc and Maguire were attacked by Bingham, and successfully defended themselves until the Lord Deputy and the Marshal also marched against them, summoning O'Neil to their aid. The latter, feeling that the time was not yet ripe, temporized with Fitzwilliam during the campaign of 1593, and though in the field at the head of his horsemen, nominally for the Queen, he seems to have rather employed his opportunities to promote that Northern Union which he had so much at heart.