Flight of the Earls Stamps


Minister Mary Coughlan Launches Flight of the Earls Stamps

Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Friday 23rd February, 2007:  Two new 48c stamps from An Post marking the 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls were unveiled by Mary Coughlan TD, Minister for Agriculture in An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal today.

Launching the stamps, Minister Coughlan said:  “The Flight of the Earls commemoration marks the 400th anniversary of one of the most significant events and periods in Irish history. Along with being an event that represented a major turning point in the demise of the old Gaelic order and tradition in Ulster, it also has had a defining impact on the relationship between Ireland and continental Europe.  I am delighted that An Post has chosen to mark the event with the issue of two new        postage stamps. The depiction of O’Neill and O’ Donnell as they take a ship from Rathmullan to the continent will bring home for many the significance of this anniversary year.”

Speaking at the event An Post Chairperson, Margaret McGinley said:  “The Flight of the Earls had a fundamental influence on Irish society and its impact is still seen today.  The issue of these stamps is but part of a major initiative across this county and beyond and we very much hope they will help to highlight and advertise the anniversary year both at home and abroad.”

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the two most powerful Gaelic chieftains in Ulster, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Red Hugh O’Donnell, campaigned vigorously to resist English expansion throughout Ireland, achieving a series of military successes during the Nine Years War.

In 1602, O’Donnell travelled to Spain to seek further aid, but died there shortly afterwards.  When the war ended in 1603, his brother Rory was made first Earl of Tyrconnell.  On 14 September 1607, after four years of resentment against their subjection to the Crown, a ship was procured by influential contacts on the continent and the two Earls, along with over 90 others departed from Rathmullan, Co Donegal.

While their original destination was Corunna in northern Spain, the Earls were forced to land at Quilleboeuf in France due to stormy weather conditions.  Eventually the party arrived in Rome in 1608.

Rory O’Donnell died in 1608 and despite being exiled in Rome, Hugh O’Neill remained a force in Irish politics until his death in 1616.

An Post is honouring the anniversary of this hugely significant historical event with the issue of 2 x 48c se-tenant stamps (sold perforated as a pair), with original illustrations by Seán Ó Brogáin, featuring Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell as they take a ship out of Rathmullan in Lough Swilly.

On sale from 23rd February, the stamps are available at main Post Offices and via www.irishstamps.ie

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