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See photo and comments by John Hume speaking at the launch of 'The Flight of  the Earls in Story and Song' CD at the Rathmullan House Hotel.

The Flight of the Earls an illustrated history

To purchase hardback (£20 + p&p) or paperback (£14 + p&p) editions of "The Flight of the Earls" an illustrated history (2007), click here.

'John's latest work will be of great interest to scholars of the period, of course, but since it is so eminently readable it will also prove of great value to general readers...I have learnt much that was new to me from The Flight of the Earls. You will too, when you have read it. Dr McCavitt has done us a great service, and to the earls and their noble ship's company he has paid great homage in this anniversary year'. (Extract from book review by Fergus Gillespie, Chief Herald of Ireland).

See my new website on my current research on ROSS OF BLADENSBURG, the British General who burnt the WHITE HOUSE in 1814.

We are pleased to host a special piece on another subject in early-modern Irish history, a controversial subject which has sparked much debate. See our Web version of Maureen E.Mulvihill's review of Nini Rodgers' Ireland, Slavery and Anti-Slavery: 1612-1865 (2007), originally published in The Irish Echo, March 04-March 10 2009 issue (author note, updated here, with links).

A 'model mono­graph' - Review of John McCavitt's Sir Arthur Chichester Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1605-16 by Toby Barnard, English Historical Review (2000 115: 459-460).

To purchase, price £10+P&P, click here.

Flight of the Earls commemoration in Lisbon. See report including the address by Dom Hugo O'Neill.

Dom Hugo O'Neill, Chief of the O'Neill clan, visits the newly restored Bagenal's Castle in Newry, home once to the 'love of his life', Mabel Bagenal and her brother, and arch rival to the Earl, Henry Bagenal. See report of visit.

Bagenal's Castle, recently restored at a cost of c£3m, scene of the famous courtship between Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Mabel Bagenal, 'Ireland's Helen'. (Earl of Tyrone and Mabel Bagenal image - Right - (copyright) of Newry and Mourne Museum.

Listen to the story of Mabel Bagenal's elopement with the Earl of Tyrone.

For events at Bagenal's Castle see

Dom Hugo O'Neill hosts meeting which paved the way for the creation of a new group, the Association of O’Neill Clans, which aims to preserve the clan’s legacy.
Those interested can register at a special website at

An Post have commissioned Flight of the Earls commemorative stamps. See here for more details and purchase information. Click here to contact the artist.

The State commemoration of the earls' arrival in Rome occurred on the weekend of 12th to 14th April 2008. See Tom Comer's account of the weekend and the Homily delivered by Cardinal Brady at the commemorative mass in San Pietro in Montorio.

See family history details of the Glinni family from Acerenza, near Naples, who trace their arrival in the area from Ireland in 1610.


The Flight Of The Earls in Story and Song - Dr John McCavitt FRHistS

John has also produced an Audio Book entitled 'The
Flight of the earls in story and song, as well as a music and song only CD, (see right). Click here for purchase details of both CDs.

Flight of the Earls 400

O'Donnell Family Crest O'Neill Family Crest

The 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls in September 2007 has proven to be an occasion of historical as well as contemporary interest. In large measure, N.Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ originated with the departure of the northern nobles, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell. Ironically, the quartercentenary has coincided with a political agreement that has broken a centuries old political log-jam. At the end of 2006, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, predicted the impending political breakthrough: ‘I believe that 2007 can be a year as historic as any in our past. For the first time in 400 years, since the Flight of the Earls and the beginning of the Ulster plantation, there can be agreement between all of the representatives of all the people of this island’.

A defining moment in Irish history for ‘native’ and ‘planter’ alike, the exodus of the northern earls has been commemorated locally, nationally and internationally (including Louvain, Chicago, Lisbon and Rome). While it is widely known that the departure of Tyrone and Tyrconnell resulted in the Plantation of Ulster, the commemoration of the Hamilton and Montgomery settlement in County Down in 1606 publicised the fact that a not inconsiderable degree of protestant settlement pre-dated the Flight of the Earls. Bishop George Montgomery, who asserted the claims of the Church of Ireland throughout much of Ulster for the first time in the aftermath of the Nine Years War, 1594-1603, played a leading role challenging the Earl of Tyrone's powerbase in Ulster. Meanwhile, Sir James Fullerton exercised growing Scottish influence on Irish affairs at the royal court in London.

Based on twenty years of research which produced three books and numerous articles (see summary and reviews of The Flight of the Earls and other publications) about the two key figures on the Irish and English side at the time of the Flight of the Earls - the earl of Tyrone and Sir Arthur Chichester - this website offers an overview of the key personalities and events, covering developments that both preceded and proceeded from the Flight of the Earls. By way of recreating the atmosphere in which the Flight took place transcripts of a number of key primary historical documents have been posted, including several that recount the earl of Tyrone’s elopement with Mabel Bagenal, the so-called Helen of Troy of the era. Tadhg Ó Cianain’s eyewitness account of the earls’ dramatic escape is an epic in itself, the ship almost floundering on several occasions before landfall was made in France, with but one barrel of water left for the ship’s famous complement of Ninety Nine. A series of maps illustrate the rollercoaster journey undertaken by the earls through Ireland and subsequently from France to Rome. Included also are rubbings (and translations) of the tombstones in Rome of the earl of Tyrconnell and Hugh O’Neill, baron of Dungannon, son of the earl of Tyrone.

Electronic edition of Tadhg Ó Cianáin's contemporary account of the 'Flight of the Earls' online.

Rathmullan to Rome

The earls' route from Ireland to Rome (Map courtesy of Gill & Macmillan, publishers of The Flight of the Earls, by John McCavitt)

Mortal Enemies

A personal vendetta pursued by Sir Arthur Chichester towards the earl of Tyrone fuelled the controversial circumstances preceding the Flight of the Earls. The earl of Tyrone's forces had killed Chichester's brother during the Nine Years War, Sir Arthur Chichester vowing to wreak personal revenge by beheading Tyrone. While the war ended in 1603, the bitter rivalry between Tyrone and Chichester was rekindled when Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed lord deputy of Ireland in 1605.

Earl of Tyrone and Sir Arthur Chichester

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Flight of the Earls for people of Irish descent, and for countries that the Irish migrated to, is that the Flight effectively inaugurated the Irish diaspora. The early seventeenth century witnessed Irish men and women dispersed as far afield as the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Newfoundland, even the Amazon (O'Briens). As a direct result of the Flight, Irish soldiers, the original ‘wild geese’, saw service in Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Russia.

Overall, the story of the Flight of the Earls is a tale of epic proportions, an enthralling and momentous episode in the history of Ireland and the wider world that has lost none of its drama and appeal in the passage of time.

(The dramatic nature of the Flight of the Earls has generated a considerable body of Music and Poems)


Background music is an extract from a song entitled 'My Distant homeland/Exiles' Anthem', music and lyrics by Miles Jones, Maura Erskine and John McCavitt. Singers: Billy Finnegan and Mark Hughes.

The music forms part of a soundtrack to a play on The Flight of the Earls written by John McCavitt. Other tracks include:

Extract from 'Lost Chieftains of Tyrconnell'

Extract from 'Imeacht na n-Iarlaí'

An audio book entitled 'The Flight of the Earls in Story and Song' has also been recorded.

Introduction to 'The Flight of the Earls in Story and Song' audio book

All extracts from 'The Flight Of The Earls in Story and Song' © 2004 Annahaia Records

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Arthur Chichester, Mabel Begengal, Tadgh O Cianain, Earl, Turconnell, Hugh O'Neill, Rathmullan, Nine Years War, Irish diaspora, Rory O'Donnell, Battle Biscuits, Red Hugh, Clontibret, Earl Essex, Elizabeth I, Mellifont, Francis Drake, Macdonnells, Dunlace Castle,