Sir Cahir, (1587-1608), lord of Inishowen. Dynastic
rivalries witnessed Sir Cahir siding with the English during the Nine Years War,
1594-1603. When the war ended Sir Cahir pursued a policy of accommodation with
the newly dominant crown adminstration in Ireland, seeking to become a member of
the household of the prince of Wales. Given this background, Sir Cahir’s death
in rebellion against the crown in 1608 is somewhat surprising. The explanation
for this extraordinary turn of events owes much to persistent provocation by Sir
George Paulet, the governor of Derry.
one incident, when Paulet reportedly assaulted O’Doherty, the youthful lord of
Inishowen plotted his revenge, egged on by his kinsmen, the aggrieved MacDhaibhéids
(McKevitt/McDevitts/McCavitts or similar surname derivatives). Rebellion broke
out in April 1608 following O’Doherty’s seizure of Culmore Fort on the River
Foyle. The gaelic chieftain forced the wife of his so-called ‘gossip’,
Captain Hart, to betray the fort on the pretext that her husband had fallen from
Early 17th Century depiction of Culmore Fort
Sir Cahir then seized Derry, putting Paulet to the sword, though generally
sparing of the rest of the English colonists. His forces ultimately rose to
almost a thousand men. By July 1608, the rebellion had ended as suddenly as it
had begun with O’Doherty’s death during a skirmish at Kilmacrenan in
Co.Donegal. A relatively small-scale revolt by the standard of the Nine Years
War. O’Doherty’s rebellion nevertheless had far-reaching implications. The
relatively minimalist plantation plans which had been agreed in the wake of the
Flight of the Earls were abandoned in favour of a much more ambitious project.
Doe Castle, Co.Donegal,
captured by rebel forces without a fight when a young boy raised a false alarm
that the garrison’s cows were being attacked by wolves – the rebels
scrambling through the open gate.
wife of the protestant bishop of Derry was detained briefly at Burt castle,
after being taken captive at Derry. She was released by the crown forces who, in
turn, captured O’Doherty’s wife following a brief siege of Burt castle. The
rebels had threatened to place the bishop of Derry’s wife in any breach in the
castle walls in a bid to deter the English forces. The English commander replied
by declaring that the ‘king’s honour was a fairer mark and to be handled
more tenderly…than any woman in the world’.
An early seventeenth
century image of Burt castle
Burt castle today
- O’Doherty clan website
- Featuring family folklore recollections
of O'Doherty's revolt.