|Cause of death Assassination|
Assassinated 1558, Kingdom of Ireland
|Born c.1520Ulster, Ireland|
Died 1558 Ulster, Kingdom of Ireland
Parents Conn O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone
Children Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, Cormac MacBaron O'Neill, Art MacBaron O'Neill, Brian O'Neill, Baron Dungannon
Grandchildren Owen Roe O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, Ellis MacDonnell, Countess of Antrim
Grandparents Conn Mór O'Neill, Eleanor Fitzgerald
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Matthew o neill 1st baron dungannon
Matthew O'Neill, 1st Baron Dungannon (Irish:Feardorcha Ó Néill) (1520 – 1558) was an Irish aristocrat. He was the son of the Ulster magnate Conn O'Neill, the most powerful lord in Gaelic Ireland. As part of the surrender and regrant policy brought in during the reign of Henry VIII, Conn was made Earl of Tyrone with Matthew confirmed as his heir and made Baron of Dungannon. Both visited London to formally submit to the King.
This arrangement was disputed by Matthew's elder half-brother Shane O'Neill, who had a larger and more powerful following. Shane's violent response crushed the government's hope that a peaceful succession might take place. Matthew was killed by Shane's men in 1558, a year before Conn O'Neill died.
In his attempts to gain recognition of the title of Earl of Tyrone from the Crown, Shane suggested that Matthew had not really been Conn's son, and his real father was a blacksmith from Dundalk named Kelly. Shane tried to show Matthew's claims were weak under both the English law of primogeniture as well as the Gaelic custom of the strongest member of the family inheriting. Shane received some recognition of his role as head of the O'Neills, but he was never made an Earl before his death in 1567.
Matthew's children included Brian O'Neill, who was killed in 1562, and Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone. With government-backing Hugh, who had been educated by an English family, returned to Ulster with a role in the Royal Irish Army and began to build up a power base. Hugh was able to secure the Crown's acknowledgement that Matthew had been Conn's legitimate heir, and was therefore Hugh was made the 2nd Earl of Tyrone. He grew into the leading nobleman in Ulster before his Tyrone's Rebellion and subsequent Flight of the Earls destroyed his power base. Another son was Cormac MacBaron O'Neill. Through his youngest son Art MacBaron O'Neill, he was the grandfather of the soldier Owen Roe O'Neill (1590-1649).
Matthew's widow remarried after his death to Sir Eoin O'Gallagher, an influential figure in neighboring Tyrconnell.