McHugh had feelings for Rose
COUNTY WICKLOW HISTORY: ROSE O'TOOLE PART THREE
Published 24/10/2012 | 11:14
IT is uncertain how long Rose O'Toole remained in custody at Dublin Castle after making her confession in January 1581. Although she had split with her husband Fiach McHugh O'Byrne (sl. 1597) in the winter of 1580, the government evidently considered it prudent to continue hold her.
During her captivity, relations between Fiach McHugh and her brother Barnaby O'Toole (d.1597) continued to sour. As has been mentioned earlier, Barnaby had been imprisoned by Fiach McHugh for his loyalty to the Tudor government. It would appear that Fiach McHugh resolved to lessen the tension between the families, releasing Barnaby from his captivity. Rather, unsurprisingly, Barnaby quickly raised a company of horsemen and joined in the government's renewed prosecution of Fiach McHugh's now hard pressed rebels. Over time, the net was gathered around the Wicklow mountains, limiting the warlord's ability to threaten the state. In August 1581, Fiach McHugh sued for peace - making his submission through an attorney.
On the surface the war was officially over. In reality, the struggle rumbled on with Fiach McHugh pulling the strings from behind the scenes. The relative peace of winter of 1581 was to cause the warlord to reassess his situation. It would appear, he became uneasy with the rising ambitions of his new wife's father - the powerful Hugh Duff McDonnell O'Byrne of Knockrath (d.c. 1596).
The union with Hugh Duff 's daughter had yielded a son. It is possible that the birth of this child combined with Hugh Duff 's ambition was leading to unease among Fiach McHugh's sons from his first marriage. In any event, the warlord never had had the best of relations with Hugh Duff - viewing him with suspicion.
In fact, he was right - as the State Papers show that Hugh Duff was in regular communication with government officials. Moreover, Hugh Duff was never Fiach McHugh's man. Rather, Hugh Duff was the lieutenant of Hugh McShane O'Byrne (d. 1579) - Fiach McHugh's father. These tensions and suspicions combined to create a substantial rupture between Fiach McHugh and Hugh Duff in either 1582 or 1583, culminating in the former rejecting the latter's daughter.
The confirmation of the fact that Hugh Duff was Fiach McHugh's sworn enemy came in April 1584. Then Hugh Duff became constable of the Butler lordship of Arklow that bordered on Fiach McHugh's areas of influence. It is not known when Fiach McHugh's thoughts returned to Rose O'Toole. But it must have been around the time of his row with Hugh Duff in either 1582 or 1583.
It is clear that he must have been the figure who lobbied for Rose's release. Moreover, Rose could not have returned to Glenmalure without Fiach McHugh's permission. Another reason for bringing Rose home was the warlord's need to mend his fences with the O'Tooles. This was particularly vital at a time when Fiach McHugh's authority was being openly challenged by Hugh Duff.
On the other hand, Fiach McHugh evidently harboured deep feelings for Rose. And she for him. While their relationship was tempestuous - they were kindred spirits, sharing a deep interest in politics. These mutual interests made Rose and Fiach McHugh a formidable pair.
Now reconciled with her husband, it is distinctly unlikely that Rose ever mentioned that she had made a confession to the government.