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In 16th-century Ireland, garrisoned by British troops against the threat of Spanish invasion, the elder Prince Hugh of Donegal dies, and his son, Hugh O'Donnell, becomes head of the Donegal clan. Because of the belief that "when Hugh succeeds to Hugh, Ireland shall be free," Queen Elizabeth of England has the young prince captured and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. Aided by an Irish servant boy, Sean O'Toole, Hugh makes a bold attempt to escape but is recaptured. Lord MacSweeney and another clansman, Henry O'Neill, propose a peace treaty in return for Hugh's release. They succeed only in provoking the Irish-hating Captain Leeds; and O'Neill is thrown into the same cell with Hugh. When the two rebels eventually make good their escape, Captain Leeds seizes Donegal Castle and takes both Hugh's mother and his sweetheart, Kathleen MacSweeney, as hostages. By now all Ireland is ready to take up arms against England, and Hugh rallies the divergent clans into an army and storms Donegal Castle. The women are freed, and Captain Leeds is vanquished in a duel with Hugh. The English troops are forced to withdraw in defeat.