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Redmond O’Hanlon – outlaw or folk hero

The surname O’Hanlon has a long association with the County Armagh area. Up until the time of the Plantation the O’Hanlons were among the most notable Gaelic clans of Ulster. From around the 12th Century until the early 17th Century the chief of the O’Hanlons, ‘The O’Hanlon’, was Lord of Orier. Orier was then much bigger than the barony that exists in Co. Armagh today and covered most of eastern Co. Armagh stretching into north Louth 1, where the surname is also common to this day. However, over a period of about 90 years, roughly 1560-1650, the status of the O’Hanlon dynasty was drastically reduced. Through stages of confiscation during this period, the ancestral lands of the O’Hanlons were lost to the English crown and the former rulers were replaced by English and Scottish settlers or ‘planters’. The O’Hanlon headquarters at Tandragee was lost to the incoming St. John family by 1610 and by 1653 the last of the O’Hanlon landowners in Co. Armagh was dispossessed during the Cromwellian confiscation. It is against this backdrop that we see by the 1670s the most notable O’Hanlon of his time, Redmond, not playing the role of a Gaelic chieftain but leading a life of crime as an outlaw 2 [known in Ireland at this time as a Tory and later Rapparee] on the highways and byways of County Armagh and beyond.

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