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Famous O’Neills- Brian Mac Felim Ó Néill Lord of Clanaboy.


Brian mac Felim Ó Néill (died 1574) was the last chieftain of the Ó Néills of Clanaboy elected through Irish tannistry by the clan, and last Lord of Clanaboy.


Sir Brian mac Felim Ó Néill was the sovereign Lord of Clanaboy, consisting of what would become Clandeboye, Upper Clandeboye and the Great Ardes, and had been knighted in 1568 for his service to the Crown. However he fell out of favour with the Queen and adopted a scorched earth policy, burning the abbeys, priories and major buildings across the region to prevent any incoming English army using them as garrisons. Ó Néill fought against the English when he learned of plans for imposed settlements. He burned the original colony on his lands of Sir Thomas Smith. Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, after being invited to a dinner at Brian's castle Edendubhcarrig, had Brian, his wife and brother captured, and murdered all the men, women, and children in attendance in front of his eyes. Reports vary between two hundred and five hundred people. After that Brian, and his two relations were taken to Dublin Castle where they were executed and quartered.


Upon his execution, the Lordship of Clanaboy was partitioned in three by the British, as part of their divide and plunder strategy. His tanaiste Con mac Brian was given one moiety, his other son Shane mac Brian one moiety, and the other to their cousin Hugh Ó Néill. In 1586, Con mac Brian was murdered by agents of Hugh, who was then killed in retribution by agents of Shane mac Brian. As a side note  it was Shane who changed the name of Edendubhcarrig to "Shane's Castle," after his own name, and was chosen by the English Government for "Captain of Clanaboy," on the grounds that "he was a modest man that speaketh English;"


Eventually Shane's son Sir Henry Ó Néill conformed to the British way of life and converted to Anglicanism, which under the Penal Laws eventually allowed them to acquire the bulk of the estates of their brothers and cousins, this was not uncommon via the landed gentry. His line apparently became extinct, in the male line, in 1855, with the death of Viscount John Bruce Richard Ó Néill. This line of Protestant Clanaboy Ó Néills is now represented by the O'Neill’s of Shane's Castle today via Lord O’Neill. There are some Americans who claim descent from a descendant of Sir Henry's, Hugh O'Neall, however they have yet to produce any true documentation bar one letter sent by an ancestor making the aforementioned claim, but unfortunately for them no true proof.


At the same time in 1855 Charles Henry (Cáthal Ainrí) Ó Néill, who was the senior male in the line of Brian mac Felim's son Con, also known as the Ó Néills of The Feeva, was recognized by the Chief Herald of Ireland as The O'Neill of Clanaboy. He was pre-deceased by his younger brother and presumed successor Louis Gordon, and his only child Elizabeth Catherine Mary Theresa Ó Néill married James Gervé Conroy and moved to St. John's, Newfoundland with their only son Charles O'Neill Conroy, and the family documents and signet ring. Obviously based on the fact that Elizabeth Ó Néill was a female, the male O’Neill line from this side of the family died off based on DNA and genetics with her. Unfortunately after extensive research the documents sent with Mary or the signet ring are no longer in existence. However there are also O’Neills in Newfoundland that are direct male descendants from the great Shane O’Neill living their today with no connection to the Conroy/Clandeboye/O’Neills.