Ó hUigínn, Maol Muire (Miler O'Higgins) (d. 1590), Franciscan, poet, archbishop of Tuam, was born some time in the early to mid-sixteenth century in the territory of Leyney, Co. Sligo. His father was the bardic poet Mathghamhain, son of Maol Muire Ó hUigínn, of Dougharane in Leyney, Co. Sligo, who died in 1585. The Ó hUigínns had been a prominent bardic family in Connacht since the fourteenth century and had a famous bardic school at Kilclony. In the annals of the Four Masters many Ó hUigínn poets are referred to as ‘chief preceptor of Ireland’ (AFM, 1450,1510). Maol Muire's brother was the famous bardic poet Tadhg Dall Ó hUigínn (qv) who was murdered in 1591 by the O'Haras. Little is known of Maol Muire's early life. Tadhg Dall was fostered with the O'Donnell ruling family of Tír Conaill, and Maol Muire may have accompanied him. A later source states that in his youth Maol Muire was an accomplished poet and harpist and also something of a philosopher.
At some stage Maol Muire left Ireland to join the priesthood and to be educated on the continent. He took degrees in canon law, civil law, and theology, and when he returned to Ireland, because of his high standard of education, he was consecrated catholic archbishop of Tuam in April 1586. A number of Maol Muire's bardic poems survive. One, containing twelve verses and beginning ‘A fhir threbas in tulaig’ (‘O man that ploughest the hillside’), is on the uncertainty of life. A colophon in the manuscript Egerton 111 in the British Library states: ‘It was Mulmurry O'Higgin, Teige Dall's own brother, that uttered the three quatrains: he that was Archbishop of Tuam and that died in Antwerp in the low Country after returning from Rome.’ Maol Muire's second poem to have survived begins ‘A fhir theidh go fiodh funnidh’ (‘O man who goest to the land of sunset’); 136 verses long, it is a composition in praise of Ireland. Some religious poems by Maol Muire are also recorded.
As the manuscript colophon records, Maol Muire left for Rome some time before his death in 1590. The reason for his visit is unclear, though he may have left Ireland to escape the attentions of the English president of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham (qv), who ruled with an iron fist. After visiting Rome, he travelled as far as Antwerp in the Low Countries, where he stayed at the episcopal palace. While Maol Muire was in Antwerp, Donough O'Connor Sligo (qv), the Gaelic lord of Sligo, was accused of sending an Irish harper, Richard Barrett, with letters ‘to one commonly called the Bishop of Tuam now remaining beyond seas’ (SP 63/155/83). In 1591 the question was still being asked ‘Whether the said O'Connor do not know an Irish bishop lying on the other side at Antwerp called the archbishop of Tuam and whether there ever passed anything between them by writing or message’ (SP 63/159/81). However, by this time Maol Muire was dead: he is recorded as having died at the episcopal palace in Antwerp on 5 August 1590; he was buried in the city's cathedral. It is as Tadhg Dall's brother that Maol Muire is most remembered, though his own poems were still being copied into the nineteenth century.