How an Irish Queen Changed the Course of History


The Irish queen Iníon Dubh, often Americanized as Ineen Dubh, has been an often-overlooked historical figure who was nonetheless integral to 16th century politics and even to how Ireland looks today. Author and historian Mary Pat Ferron Canes, along with O’Donnell Clan descendant JR Foley, has set out to tell the story of Ineen Dubh in the fictionalization of her life, Dark Queen of Donegal.

Ineen Dubh’s son, Red Hugh, holds a much more well-known place in history than his mother. But Ineen’s life was fascinating, and her actions and decisions had far-reaching effects. In the sixteenth century, she stood up against Elizabeth I and was able to recover her son, Red Hugh, from a kidnapping by the English Crown and make him the leader of their clan and a king of Ireland.

Canes, who wrote a Master’s thesis on Gaelic women and men going back to ancient sagas, has been interested in Irish history for years based on her schooling, research, and her grandmother’s Irish heritage and stories about the O’Donnell clan, eventually leading her to write Dark Queen of Donegal. Canes’ research included attending a clan reunion in Donegal and interviews with descendants of the real-life characters in her book. She has stood in the footsteps of the characters at Donegal Castle and other significant locales in the historical novel.

A perfect holiday gift for those on your list interested in Irish history and historical fiction, this fact-based novel shows that Ineen’s rebellion laid the groundwork for powerful changes in Ireland toward independence and in the rise of feminism that would take place a few hundred years after her life.