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O’Neill, Sir Phelim (1605-53) One of the leaders of the 1641 rebellion in Ulster. Sir Phelim’s involvement has taxed historians owing to the fact that his family had benefited from the Ulster plantation in 1610. Such was the manner in which he had integrated with planter society that he had been appointed a justice of the peace and was socially familiar with the protestant planter class. Indeed, Sir Phelim had used the pretext of a dinner invitation to the home of Sir Toby Caulfield, a prominent planter, to seize the important fort at Charlemont and launch the revolt. Such were the complexities of the issues involved in the so-called rebellion that Sir Phelim affirmed that he had not taken arms against the king but was taking steps to neuter the machinations of parliamentary supporters in Ulster. Despite the fact that Sir Phelim never intended the rising to degenerate into an assault on the protestant settlers in Ulster, the reality was that thousands were promptly either massacred or evicted from their settlements. Sir Phelim gave way to the military expertise of Owen Roe O’Neill whom he had helped persuade to return to Ireland. On the collapse of the rising Sir Phelim was tried and executed.

 

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