Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Iníon Dubh

model and photographer Niamh O'Rourke and actor, archaeologist, Dave Swift portray Iníon Dubh and Redshank in a recent Irish photo shoot.  
Iníon Dubh is one of the most remembered and beloved heroines in Irish history.  Iníon Dubh was her pet name which means 'black haired daughter.'  She was Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill née Nic Dhónaill.  She was a Gaelic aristocrat, the daughter of the taoiseach of clann Mhic Dhónaill, Seamus Mac Dónaill, and Ann Chaimbeul, the daughter of the third Earl of Argyll, head of clann Chaimbeul.  She was multi lingual, speaking her native Gaelic, Latin, and English.  She spent much of her early life in the Scottish Court.  She married Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill in the summer of 1569.   She moved to the Laggan district of Donegal with some 1,000 Redshanks recruited from clans Caimbeul and Mac Dónaill.

With her husband's health failing, she became the de facto taoiseach of Clann Uí Dhónaill by the mid 1580s.  She was by this time also the most powerful person in west Ulster, because she commanded her own army of very devoted Redshanks.  An account of her career in Donegal will be included in the book A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, which will be published by Ulster Heritage Publishing later this spring.

Iníon Dubh was the mother of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill who led his west Ulster army to many victories against the English in the Nine Years War (1594-1603). 

She lived at Mongavlin just south of St Johnston, in east Donegal.  The remains of her castle are still standing.  Her legacy still lives in Donegal in the many families there that are of Redshank origins.

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