Sean an Diomas Was one of the greatest and last truly independent Princes among the O'Neills, he was a shrewd negotiator able to converse in four languages.
He was a great tactician in any battle conflict outwitting the best the English could throw at him.
When left alone he ruled his country with a fair hand, kept good council was generous to the poor, personally feeding beggars at his own door each morning.
The years he was at peace with the English his country was so civilised and well run, that the English of the pale flocked into it away from their corrupt English deputy's, in this time of peace Shane built castles and beautiful houses, he was the first to print the Bible in the Irish language.
Shane was a Chieftain elected by the many Chiefs in Tír Eoghain as their leader, he was surrounded by his own government a states man, and not as the English would have us believe, a wild rebel living in the woods.
There were so many lies spread by Shane's enemies to discredit him, that even today (they are believed to be true by some so called Irish and English historians), as a great man once said there is nothing worse than those who are blind and say they can see.
Three examples were.
He buried himself in hot-ash to quell his temper.
He kept Calvagh O'Donnell chained up in his bed chamber, and ravished O'Donnell wife every night, while Calvagh was forced to watch.
The last great one, he was stabbed to death in a drunken brawl with the Scots of the glen.
These lies I'm sad to say were kept alive by Hugh Earl of Tyrone and his supporters, who were sworn enemies of Shane and his sons.
Shane's main aim at the time, was to establish himself as Prince of Ulster and to rule the province as his grandfather did, Con Mor.
He was inaugurated on the secret stone at Tulach Og, by his Clans men and was made the ÓNeill, a title the English called uncivil and crude.
The English argued that Shane had no right to rule in Tír Eoghain, that his father Con had surrendered his lands was made Earl by the King and Mathew Shane's brother was Con's heir.
Shane explained that an Irish Chief did not own the land, but the Clan owned the land as well as the Chief and a Chief had only a life interest in his own portion; that a chief alone could not surrendered or sell any land or eject free owners. so according to the institutions still existing in Ireland, his father had no power whatever to make any such surrender.
Even by the law of England, he asserted, the letters patent were void; because there was no inquisition taken before they were granted, nor could be any in Tyrone till it was made shire ground.
He added he was elected Ó Néill, according to the custom of the country, as the legitimate son of his father. Referring to his demands on the obedience of the northern chiefs, he rightly declared he had arrogated nothing beyond the time honoured and lawful rights of his ancestors, who had been Lords Superior of the Province.
As for Mathew the so called heir to my father Con, Shane told them with great confidence that man is not O'Neill and the whole of Ulster knows it. He is Kelly the son of a Dundalk blacksmith, brought to my father at the age of sixteen by his mother and presented to Con as his son. My Father being a gentleman would not refuse any woman who said such a thing and took the boy in.
It was rumored in Tyrone that Mathew was borne up by the chin, by the English and planted in Cons household to destroy from within, and every action that Mathew took, turning against Con, fighting on the English side at every turn, gave great credence to this rumor. Every treaty Shane made with the English, they broke time and again.
The English set up a garrison in Armagh, Shane took to the field burning his Castle and great houses, in case the English might take and use against him. Shane crushed all in front of him, English and Irish enemies. Not able to beat him on the field the English again sued for peace and invited Shane to England, by this time Mathew was dead killed in a skirmish with Turlough O'neill, Shane's Tanis. The English spread a rumor that Shane killed Mathew himself by cutting his throat.
Shane went to England to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth, we are told she was very taken with him, and being not a very attractive woman was always ready to lift her skirt to any well built man.
Shane when making homage to her lay on the ground face down, which was a Gaelic custom, and it is said he mumbled in his own tongue with a heavy Tyrone dialect the words. Your Majesty you are the ugliest woman I've every seen, and I come here, to get not to give, so kiss my Irish ass.
Dean Donnelly his translator relayed a different message to those in the room. While Shane was in England, delayed by the English for months, they were busy doing what they were good at, stoking old feuds in Ulster splitting Clans and promising Chiefs they would be richer and more powerful under them.
When Shane got back from England he maid any traitor pay and put his house in order.
After years of fighting the English on the field, surviving assassination attempts, from stabbing to poison wine. Shane was surprised by O'Donnell at Ardnagarry and most of his men drowned in the estuary of the Swilly in panic.
Shane lost the person most dear to him in all the world, his foster brother Doltagh O'Donnelly. Shane was now on the run, he was approached by the Scots who offered him large numbers of Scots soldiers for the release of Sorly Boy MacDonnell.
Shane agreed to the meeting with Alexander MacDonnell. The meeting was arranged to take place a short distance from the present village of Cushendun, Co Antrim, on the north-western slope above the bay, and thither went Shane with his secretary Niall MacConor and fifty horsemen.
Matters were delayed for two days by Alexander, until he got his instructions from his masters the English, who some weeks earlier he had done a deal.
When the meeting was arranged for a certain day Shane and his men were ambushed and killed. He was quickly buried in the area, but two days later his body was dug up, his head cut off and sent to Dublin where it was displayed on a pole in Dublin Castle.
Every single Scots or Irish traitor who took part in the down fall of Shane, met a similar end, at the hands of the English.