Big thank you from

The 'Proud and insolent' Killultagh Captain

Although there is little record of Lisburn as a town before 1600, it was one of the fastnesses of Hugh McNeill Oge, son of Neill Oge O'Neill one of the Princes of Tirowen.

Before the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 Lisnagarvagh was a small village, and is said to take its name from Lis-na-garvoch, 'the fort of the gamester', a circular rath situated on the north side of the Wallace Park.

A 'Concise History of Lisburn and Neighbourhood'  written in commemoration  of the  building of Largymore National School in May 1906. recalls, that Lisnagarvagh village was similar to several in the neighborhood. 

It was enclosed with deep ditches, which may have, been encompassed with strong palisades, a very high and thick  rampart of earth and timber, and well flanked with bulwarks.

During the reign of Elizabeth 1, a very unsatisfactory state of feeling existed between her Government and the native Princes of Ulster.


After having failed to conquer these island chiefs by fighting, the Queen tried to win them over by conciliation. In, reply to an offer of an earldom Shane O'Neill said by blood and birth his rank placed him above the peerage

In the autumn of 1585, Sir Henry  Sydney. the Queen's Irish Deputy paid marked court to the captain of Killultagh.

One of the powerful and influential Princes of the North he was the owner of a very large territory and was lord of three castles, each of which was encompassed with a fort of great strength.

They were Ennisloghlin near Moira;  Portmore, on the borders of Lough Neagh, and a third which stood on a mound that rose above the river Lagan close to the tiny village of Lisnagarvagh.


The Forts of the latter overlooked the entrance from the County Down side of the water, and in case of Invasion was well sited for protecting the chief from every intrusion by his enemies by that route.

The Captain of Killultagh, who looked upon the English as 'the invaders of his country,' did not receive the Queen's Deputy too cordially and, indignant at the reception accorded him Sir Henry reported; "I came to Killultagh, which I found ryche and plentyful after ye manner of those countreys, but ye captain was proud and insolent; he would not Ieave his castle to see me, nor had I apt reason to vyste him as I would. He shall be paid for this before long. I will not remain long in his debt."

The Queen , on hearing of the cool contempt with which O'Neill treated her deputy, became more determined to subdue the Irish Chieftains, and three famous commanders  were sent to Ireland to put down, at any cost of men and money, the Princely powers of the O'Neill's


In 1587 such overtures were made in favour of peace to the heads of the clans, and offers of full pardon, that Brian McArt O'Neill and his father, the captain of Killultagh, pledged themselves and their tenants, that they would submit to English rule.

Sir John Perrot accepted the promise in the name of Her Majesty, but when Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tirowen, rose once again, the Captain and his son forgot their promises and joined their kinsman's army.

An expedition in 1602, under Lord Momtjoy captured their Fort Ennisloghlin end after witnessing the terrible suffering endured by his adherents, O'Neill submitted to the officers of the Queen.


Granted a full pardon, a new patent for his lands, except certain portions for chieftains received into favour and for the use of English garrisons, O'Neill was in Dublin at a meeting of the council when he heard of the Queen's death

Bursting into tears the Irish chieftain said it was at the loss of a mistress whose moderation and clemency had at last caused him  to regard her as a generous benefactor.