Donnell O’Sullivan now found his position hopeless, and commenced his famous retreat to Leitrim. He set out with about 1,000 people, of whom only 400 were fighting men; the rest were servants, women, and children. He fought all the way, and arrived at his destination with only thirty-five followers.
O’Neill now stood merely on the defensive. The land was devastated by famine; Docwra, Governor of Derry, had planted garrisons at every available point; and Mountjoy plundered Ulster. In August he prepared to attack O’Neill with a large army, and, as he informs Cecil, “by the grace of God, as near as he could, utterly to waste the country of Tyrone.” O’Neill had now retired to a fastness at the extremity of Lough Erne, attended by his brother, Cormac Art O’Neill, and MacMahon. Mountjoy followed him, but could not approach nearer than twelve miles; he therefore returned to Newry. In describing this march to Cecil, he says: “O’Hagan protested to us, that between Tullaghoge and Toome there lay unburied 1,000 dead.”
The news of O’Donnell’s death had reached Ireland; and his brother submitted to the Deputy. In 1603 Sir Garret More entered into negotiations with O’Neill, which ended in his submitting also. The ceremony took place at Mellifont, on the 31st of March. Queen Elizabeth had expired, more miserably than many of the victims who had been executed in her reign, on the 24th of March; but the news was carefully concealed until O’Neill had made terms with the Viceroy.
Trinity College, Dublin, was founded during this reign. Sir John Perrot had proposed to convert St. Patrick’s Cathedral into an university; but Loftus, the Protestant Archbishop, would not allow it, because, according to Leland, “he was particularly interested in the livings of this church, by leases and estates, which he had procured for himself and his kinsmen.” When the Deputy, whom he cordially hated, had been withdrawn, he proposed a plan which gave him the credit of the undertaking without any expenditure on his part. The site he selected was in what was then called Hogges-green, now College-green; and the place was the “scite, ambit and presinct" of the Augustinian Monastery of All Saints, which had been founded by Dermod MacMurrough, King of Leinster, A.D. 1166. Dr. Loftus, after obtaining this grant, and such rents as still belonged to the old Catholic monastery, endeavoured to raise a subscription to supply the further funds still necessary to complete the work. In this he signally failed; for those to whom he applied excused themselves on the plea of poverty. Other funds were therefore sought for, and easily obtained; and the revenues of some suppressed Catholic houses in Kerry, Mayo, and Ulster, were taken to endow and erect the Protestant University.