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Fued with the McQuillans

Fued with the McQuillans

The Feud between the O'Cahan and McQuillans, which resulted in wars, massacres, ravages and assignation, are recorded from AD 1442 to AD1542 and the reign of Henry VIII. The opening stage is recorded in the annuals of Ulster, and tells of the first serious conflict between the two. McQuillan and O'Neill lead an invasion of O'Cahan territory and routed and inflicted quite sever casualties of 32 O'Cahan men killed. The annalists continue to describe a follow up retaliation and counter-retaliation. The O'Cahan Chief killed the son of the McQuillan Chief while raiding the lands of Aibhne O'Cahan. This feud where mainly small scale conflicts, but the evidence suggests that this long drawn out warfare weakened the O'Cahans in the long term.

The Annuals of Ulster continue with the death of the O'Cahan Chief Manus O'Cahan who in the year ???? Was slain by the McQuillans. The O'Cahans with the assistance of the O'Neill entered the territory of the McQuillans known as the Route, to exact revenge for the dead Chief. A homer style battle pursued with single combat between various warriors, namely Godfrey O'Cahan and Rory McQuillan, resulting in the death of Godfrey from the javelin on the McQuillan. The second day of the battle seen the McQuillan Chief dead and the battle lost for the McQuillans.

The drama continues into the period of Manus O'Cahan chief of the O'Cahans, The annuals of Ulster AD 1532 describe the death of McQuillan, slain in the church of Dunboe by the son of Rory O'Cahan of the Route and Donnell the Cleric. The annuals continue AD 1536 The O'Cahans led an incursion into the territory of the McQuillans, burning and looting cattle. It seems the McQuillans with the help of the Ulster McDonalds set an ambush for the O'Cahans, which resulted in their defeat and loss of booty.

AD 1542 Finds the O'Cahans in an alliance with the O'Donnells against the McQuillans. Marching their combined forces to a passage over the Bann River. They encountered a McQuillan force, which they defeated. On entering the territory of McQuillan they divided their force into 3 detachments, creating a pincer movement. One force attacking east to Knocklayd, another force up the Bann River, with a third force and probably the largest under the command of the chiefs O'Cahan and O'Donnell. Large amount of booty was taken, especially in cattle, with the rest being killed on the spot, that could not be driven off.

The McQuillans and their allies the MacDonnells to retrieve the cattle launched a counter operation. Manus O'Cahan with the help of the Sweeneys overtook McQuillans and his allies and soundly defeated them. This resulted in great numbers of McQuillans and Scots fleeing to the river Bann and being drown.

McQuillans Seek English Aid

AD 1542 Seen an appeal by the McQuillan to the English government for help, was answered. The success of this appeal may have been due to the fact that the McQuillan Sept had sub missed to the English government some years before 1540. Secondly the McQuillans where an Anglo-Irish family, with welsh descent. Finally the O'Cahans had yet not submitted to the Surrender and Regrant Policy of Henry VIII government, with this McQuillan business providing the English government the opportunity to make an example of the O'Cahans.

AD 154 2 John Travers was the Master of the Ordnance and warden of the castle of Coleraine during this period, and was ordered by the English King to attack the O'Cahans. The annuals of Ulster record that the English had Horse and foot and aide by the McQuillans captured the castle at Limavady and slew and destroyed all O'Cahan troops in the area.

The English government succeed partly with the submission of Manus O'Cahan, resulting in him signing an indenture of peace. This peace lasted no longer than two years before O'Cahan and O'Donnell where on the move again, the O'Donnells lead an army into the territory of McQuillans, capturing the wooden fort on the island of Loughan and the castle at Ballylough. The O'Donnells passed ownership of the island to the O'Cahans, with the result that McQuillan and Macdonnells of Antrim besieged it. The siege resulted in the loss of the castle due to a huge fire, which killed Donough O'Cahan and all his men.

The incursions and counter incursions continued. Once again O'Cahan and their O'Donnell allies invaded McQuillan territory with a Battle occurring near the Drumachose Old Church. The evidence of this is found when labourer's centuries later uncovered several pits of human bones. The details of the battle are.

Decline of the McQuillans

The close of the sixteenth century marks the final decline and destruct of the McQuillan Sept. This Welsh-Anglo-Norman, which had become more Gaelic than any Gael, had held their lands by sheer fighting force. A letter by the Lord Deputy to Henry the VIII in 1542 expresses "that not a single Chief of the McQuillans had died in his bed but that all had been slain."

The final death nail for the McQuillans was not the O'Cahans but the opportunist MacDonnells of Antrim under the leadership of SorleyBoy. Soon to be famous for his conflict with the Proud Shane O'Neill. Sorley Boy the greatest of the MacDonnells with the aid of levies from Scotland launched a massive assault on the weakened McQuillans with battles at Bonamargy, Glenshesk and the final battle at Aura. Seen MacDonnell's controlling the fertile territory of the Route.

The finally twist in the story is that, the McQuillans were betrayed by a piper named O'Cahan and they were completely destroyed. The strife between the two clans seen the destruction of one and the weakening of the other. AD 1553 The O'Cahans territory is described as "for the most part waste".

The O'Cahans at this point in time needed to be at their strongest to facing the rising threat of the English power, which was growing in the Bann Valley.

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