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Sorley Boy MacDonnell (c.1505 - 1590):
Irish chieftain

Sorley Boy MacDonnell was probably born in Ballycastle, County Antrim. Having been imprisoned for a year in Dublin Castle, he came to prominence in 1552 when he drove the English from Carrickfergus, stating 'playnly that Inglische men had no ryght to Yrland'. In 1559 the MacQuillans tried to retreive the Route, which had been their territory, and a battle was fought at Bonamargy, with Sorley Boy leading the MacDonnells. He was imprisoned for two years following a defeat by Shane MacNeill. On his release, Sorley Boy, with help from supporters in Scotland, opposed the government's efforts to take his lands. His territory was invaded by the Earl of Essex, and his wife and children who had been sent to Rathlin for sanctuary were murdered, while, as Essex's account puts it,'Sorley then stood upon the mainland of the Glynnes, and saw the taking of the island and was likely to run mad for sorrow saying that he had lost all he ever had'. For eight years from 1576 Sorley Boy ruled the north coast, which after many skirmishes remained in his command, including the MacDonnells' seat at Dunluce, which he had lost and reclaimed. He was buried in Bonamargy, Ballycastle, County Antrim.

Born: c.1505
Died: January 1590
Kate Newmann