The Flight of the Eagle by Standish O'Grady. Mercier Irish Classics 1980
No imaginative writer could devise a more romantic and thrilling tale than the true story of the kidnapping of young Hugh Roe O'Donnell from his homeland in north Donegal, his imprisonment in Dublin Castle and his subsequent escape on Christmas Eve in 1591. The Flight of the Eagle is a splendid story of the Elizabethan era in Irish history, filled as it was with colour, excitement, high drama and sudden violence. The author, Standish O'Grady, drew from such accepted sources as the Annals of the Four Masters and State Papers and breathed a spirit into the dry bones of innumerable contemporary documents so that the men and women of Elizabethan Ireland seem to live and move before us.
His portrayals of the fiery old chieftain, Fiach Mac Hugh O'Byrne, the powerful, charming and politically astute Hugh O'Neill, the brilliant unscrupulous Viceroy, Sir John Perron, and many others, lose nothing of the complexities of their characters. With an historian's integrity he describes the turbulent era as it was, the private ambitions and personal desires of the people who were shaping it, their mistakes and their achievements, their heroism and in many instances, their inability to adapt to changing times.
To the depiction of his hero, the young Red Hugh of Ulster, O'Grady brings a poet's touch. The personal grace and beauty of the boy, his innate dignity and mettlesome resolution are finely portrayed.
Standish O'Grady was born in Castletown Berehaven, County Cork in 1846. He was educated at the local school and later at Tipperary Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin. He was called to the Bar in 1868 but later turned instead to writing. He wrote a series of novels based on Irish history including Finn and His Companions, The Coming of Cuchulainn, The Gates of the North, In the Wake of King James and Ulrick the Ready.
Condition paperback good condition edges browning