MacEgan (MacKegan, Egan, Hegaine, Ó hAogáin), Owen (Eoghan, Eugene) (d. 1603), catholic vicar apostolic of Ross, was a very active figure in the Nine Years War in Munster. Details of his early career are obscure, although he was clearly well educated, being described in 1595 as bachelor of theology and MA, and as a doctor of theology two years later. His place of study is unknown. On 1 November 1595 he was collated to the Knights Hospitallers’ preceptory at Mourne, Co. Cork. He was then appointed (30 May 1597) vicar apostolic of the diocese of Ross, in which position he exercised the full powers of the bishop without actually being consecrated a bishop. The use by the Vatican of vicars apostolic in Ireland at this time reflected the difficulties that the church encountered in establishing bishops in their dioceses.
MacEgan's appointment meant that he was one of the most senior catholic clergy in Munster during the outbreak of the Nine Years War in the province, and he used his position to promote the cause of Hugh O'Neill (qv) and his allies. MacEgan was present when O'Neill met many of the catholic clergy, nobility, and gentlemen of Munster at Inishcarra in 1600, and was charged with procuring a papal bull excommunicating those who would not support the rebellion, and with presenting their requests for aid to Rome and Spain. He travelled to Rome that summer, and remained there until the following year, during which time he appears to have been appointed dean of Cork. He then journeyed to Spain in the company of the papal nuncio to Ireland, Ludovico Mansoni, SJ, arriving at Valladolid in December. There he met with Philip III and royal officials, and secured their ongoing support. By April 1602 MacEgan was at Corunna awaiting passage to Ireland, finally landing in Kilmakilloge Bay, Co. Kerry, on 5 June. MacEgan brought with him money from Spain, perhaps as much as 20,000 ducats, as well as letters of encouragement, the combination of which persuaded a number of prominent rebels to persevere in the conflict, among them Donal and Finnen MacCarthy, the sons of Sir Owen MacCarthy, and Richard Tyrrell (qv). He also convinced Cormac mac Dermond MacCarthy (qv), lord of Muskerry, to join openly with O'Neill, but MacCarthy was captured by the lord president of Munster, Sir George Carew (qv), before he could do so. MacEgan was also believed to have brought a papal legitimation for Donal MacCarthy, illegitimate son of the earl of Clancare, Domhnall MacCarthy Mór (qv) (d. 1596).
In spite of the flagging fortunes in Munster, MacEgan remained steadfast to the rebel cause and met his death in action on 5 January 1603 as leader of a body of the remaining rebels, which encountered English troops and local loyalists near Ballynacarriga, Co. Cork. President Carew claimed that he had had a sword in one hand and a portius and beads in the other, while catholic accounts stated he had been holding a breviary in one hand and rosary beads in the other. Tradition has it that after the battle his body was tied on to a horse with the intention of bringing him for burial at the Franciscan friary at Timoleague, Co. Cork. Frightened by thunder, the horse escaped his handlers, but amazingly found its way to the friary. At the time of his death MacEgan, along with those posts mentioned above, was also vicar apostolic of Ardfert, and had been collated to St Thomas's Augustinian priory at Ballybeg, and the Cistercian monastery at Abbeymahon. Given the upheaval of the time, however, it would appear he did not enjoy possession of any of these livings for a sustained period. He was buried in Timoleague friary.