Ó hUiginn, Tadhg Óg (d. 1448), praise poet, was the son of the poet Tadhg Ó hUiginn (d. 1391). Of his mother, nothing is known other than her Christian name, Áine. The Ó hUiginn family of Connacht was closely linked with bardic poetry and scholarship in the later medieval and early modern periods. Tadhg Óg's venerable professional lineage is indicated by the likelihood that he was the great-grandson of Tadhg Ó hUiginn (d. 1315), a celebrated poet in his day. As is the case with many medieval praise poets, details of Tadhg Óg's life are scant and his surviving poems reveal little of his personal biography. It is apparent, however, that he enjoyed a prominent contemporary reputation. His professional status is immediately reflected by the roll-call of the family names of his aristocratic Gaelic subjects: O'Neill of Tyrone, O'Donnell of Tyrconnell, O'Kelly of Hy Many, O'Carroll of Ely, Maguire of Fermanagh, MacDermot of Moylurg in Roscommon, O'Connor Kerry, O'Connor Sligo of Carbury, and MacDonnell of Islay in Scotland. He also composed poems for members of elite Anglo-Norman families: Butler of Ormond, MacWilliam Burke of Mayo, and Clanricard Burke. By his own account, it seems he was reared in the territory of the O'Kellys (quatrain 4 in ‘Beag aithnim dom aos chumtha’ addressed to Órlaidh, daughter of O'Kelly: Aithdioghluim Dána, no.12). According to the annals, Tadhg Óg, described as ‘the chief teacher of the poets of Ireland and Scotland’ and keeper of a guest house for scholars and pilgrims, died in 1448 at Cill Chonnla (parish of Kilconla, barony of Dunmore, Co. Galway) and was buried in the priory of Strade or Áth Leathan, Co. Mayo.
Ó hUiginn was a master poet in the bardic literary tradition. Adept and agile in his deployment of the conventions and tropes of praise poetry, he succeeded, notwithstanding the somewhat formulaic configuration of the bardic form, in composing works of affective power and elegance. For example, his elegy in commemoration of Tadhg O'Kelly (qv), lord of Uí Mháine (Hy Many) 1403–10, is a highly convincing essay in the articulation of personal grief within the constraints of a codified communal format. In this poem beginning ‘Anois do tuigfidhe Tadhg’ (Aithdioghluim Dána, no. 10) which was composed c.1412, Tadhg Óg brilliantly encapsulates the complex amalgam of proximity, status, and influence which determined the poet–patron relationship. A similar sense of emotional depth is evident in his poem for Gráinne of Hy Many (d. 1440) on the death of her son, when Tadhg Óg reminds her of the transience of earthly glory by describing the world as ‘a shadow or a dream’ (‘Is sgáile é nó is aisling', quatrain 6 in ‘Cia do-ghéabhainn go Gráinne?’: Aithdioghluim Dána, no. 13). In the poem beginning ‘Anocht sgaoilid na sgola’ Ó hUiginn laments the death of his poet elder brother and his teacher Fearghal Ruadh (‘Mé a dhearbhráthair ‘s a dhalta’, quatrain 14 in Irish bardic poety, no.38). Fearghal's demise is depicted both as a sad and terrible blow to his brother and as a profound loss to the world of poetry. Devotional poems extant in a collection forming part of the Yellow Book of Lecan (TCD MS 1318) have also been ascribed to Tadhg Óg. Extracts from his work were often cited as models of best practice in bardic grammatical and syntactical tracts.