O’Donnell, The Clan

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                                       O’DONNELL CLAN
                                O’Donnell Clan is all Connected
                                        By Al O’Donnell


Because there are so many O’Donnells scattered along the Miramichi River, I thought that a bit of their old history would appeal to many of my readers. The fact is that up here in the Central Miramichi area, almost every family is connected in one way or another to the O’Donnell Clan.

My niece’s son recently toured Ireland and he managed to hunt out the old O’Donnell castle in Donegal. This castle is a huge, rambling stone building and still in pretty good repair. There is a plaque on the front both in English and Gaelic which informs the public that it was built by Red Hugh O’Donnell in 1535. I am sending the picture to the paper in the hopes that it can be reproduced.

According to an old Irish history book which I once read, my great-great-grandfather was a direct descendant of this Hugh O’Donnell. He sailed from Limerick and then jumped ship at Newcastle when he was only 14 years old. He then walked all the way up the river to Ludlow where he made his home with this Capt. John Price. Later, he married Capt. John’s daughter, Lydia and from this union sprang all the O’Donnells of this area.

The two great Irish Chieftans, Red Hugh O’Donnel and Red Hugh O’Neil, fought the English for years. Finally in despair of ever defeating them, the English King of that day invited them to London to talk peace. Once he got them there he double-crossed them and put them both in jail. There O’Neil died but apparently old O’Donnell was harder to kill. He escaped and got back to Ireland where he again fought the English until his death.

                                       Frightening

I remember that my father had an old tintype snapshot of my great-grandfather, Patrick O’Donnell. It used to frighten me to look at it because he looked as though he would as soon kill you as not. He was a very stern looking man with the lines of hardship etched on his face. Incidentally, the O’Donnells played a very prominent part in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland.

Great-grandfather O’Donnell’s wife was an Anglican and the whole family was brought up in that faith. The reason, I suppose, was that there was no Catholic Church nearer than Newcastle and no means of transportation except by canoe. But it doesn’t look like the name “O’Donnell” will ever die out in this area because they are great breeders.


Source: Miramichi Leader – December 22, 1979

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