The Lord Chancellor Cusack appears, on the contrary, to have constantly befriended him. On 12th January, 1568, he writes of O’Neill’s “dutifulness and most commendable dealing with the Scots;” and soon after three English members of the Dublin Government complain that Cusack had entrapped them into signing a letter to the unruly chieftain. There is one dark blot upon the escutcheon of this remarkable man. He had married the daughter of O’Donnell, Lord of one of the Hebrides. After a time he and his father-in-law quarrelled, and Shane contrived to capture O’Donnell and his second wife. He kept this lady for several years as his mistress; and his own wife is said to have died of shame and horror at his conduct, and at his cruel treatment of her father. English writers have naturally tried to blacken his character as deeply as possible, and have represented him as a drunkard and a profligate; but there appears no foundation for the former accusation. The foundation for the latter is simply what we have mentioned, which, however evil in itself, would scarcely appear so very startling to a court over which Henry VIII. had so long presided.
After many attempts at assassination, Shane-an-Diomais [John the Ambitious] fell a victim to English treachery. Sir William Piers, the Governor of Carrickfergus, invited some Scotch soldiers over to Ireland, and then persuaded them to quarrel with him, and kill him. They accomplished their purpose, by raising a disturbance at a feast, when they rushed on the northern chieftain, and despatched him with their swords. His head was sent to Dublin, and his old enemies took the poor revenge of impaling it on the Castle walls.