In October, 1649, Owen, after rendering signal service to sir Charles Coote, junior, in Derry, fell seriously ill, and had to be carried in a litter to the residence of his brother-in-law, Philip O’Reilly, at Cloughouter, in the county of Cavan. The popular belief was that he had been drugged with poison ‘of slow operation;’ but nothing could have been falser, since his physicians pronounced his disease acute gout. His last political act was a declaration of willingness to join the royal forces against the common enemy; but five days after he despatched the following letter his noble soul was called to receive that imperishable crown, which heaven awards to those whose patriotism is vivified by faith and piety:—
Taken from the book ‘The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donel, Earl of Tyrconnel; Their Flight from Ireland and Death in Exile’ by Rev. Charles Patrick Meehan.
‘May it please your excellency,—Being now in my deathbed, without any great hopes of my recovery, I call my Saviour to witness that, as I hope for salvation, my resolution, ways, and intentions, from first to last, in these unhappy wars, tended to no particular ambition or private interest of mine own, notwithstanding what was or may be thought of to the contrary, but truly and sincerely to the preservance of my religion, the advancement of his majesty’s service, and just liberties of this nation, whereof, and of my particular reality and willingness to serve your excellency above any other in the kingdom, I hope, if God will permit me, to give ample and sufficient testimony in the view of the world ere it be long.
‘However, if, in the interim, God pleaseth to call me away, I do most sincerely recommend to your excellency’s care my son and heir, colonel Henry O’Neill, praying and desiring that your excellency may be favorably pleased, not only to prosecute a present course, that he may participate of the late peace, but also of the benefit of such conditions, concessions, and creation as his master intended for me, and was assured for me by your excellency in his master’s name, by an instrument bearing date at Kilkenny, the twenty-ninth of September last, and that, in case of my death, your excellency will not only assure him thereof, under hand and seal, but likewise by aiding and assisting him in the timely procurement thereof.
‘And in so doing your excellency will highly oblige me, my said son, and the posterity of your excellency’s humble servant,