O'Higgins, Quentin (Con Ó hUiginn) (d. 1565), Dominican priest and vicar provincial, was born at Termonhiggin, Co. Sligo. His family belonged to a branch of the southern Uí Néill, one of the most distinguished literary families in Ireland, as attested in the annals of the Four Masters. A branch of the family settled in Co. Sligo and held large estates in the districts of Achonry and Kilmacteige until the Cromwellian confiscations. As a young man he devoted himself to the study of ancient Irish learning and civilisation. He entered the Dominican order at Sligo; he was a bachelor of theology (which suggests theological studies abroad) and was ordained priest. He became a celebrated preacher and was appointed prior of Sligo. It was during his priorship that Andrew O'Crean (qv) and Eugene O'Hart (qv), future bishops respectively of Elphin and Achonry, entered the order at Sligo. His reputation for sanctity was such that once, while visiting the Franciscan convent at Killybegs (Franciscan Third Order Regular), he was associated with a ‘miraculous’ increase of fish in the bay. In his preaching he took a resolute stand against catholics who temporised by attendance at protestant services or admitted royal supremacy over the church. As spiritual adviser to Aodh Dubh O'Donnell (qv), he obliged him to go to Rome to seek papal absolution from the censures he had incurred by taking the oath of supremacy in England. (O'Donnell had already spent eighteen months on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1510–11 and had been knighted in 1511 by Henry VIII.) O'Donnell was said to have secured for O'Higgins nomination to the diocese of Raphoe, but there is no record of the provision, and in the early 1530s O'Higgins earned the extreme displeasure of O'Donnell and some of his noblemen by fearlessly denouncing their scandalous way of life. In consequence O'Donnell withdrew his support and prevented the impending consecration.
O'Higgins had important business with the master general of the Dominicans, Franciscus Romeo, at Rome in the spring of 1548. His first request was for the retention of Sligo as a convent of strict observance. Owing to their poverty, the community was given dispensations to eat meat and wear linen clothes. O'Higgins was appointed vicar with the authority of a provincial to introduce observance in Ireland. The general excused the Irish from paying tax to the curia of the order, saying that the money could be used instead for the upkeep of poorer Irish houses. Soon afterwards O'Higgins was made vicar provincial and co-adjutor of the Irish provincial, David Brown (qv), with competence over the Observants and unreformed brethren alike. He also obtained papal faculties required by the provincial to reconcile apostate Dominicans to the church, provided they abjured all traces of heresy and performed prescribed penance. Late one evening in 1565, while travelling with ten companions to a provincial chapter meeting, he was drowned as he was crossing the River Nanny near Tuam.
Quentin O'Higgins, collaborator of Master David Brown, was strongly committed to the spreading of the Dominican Observant movement in Connacht and Ulster (a vigorous Franciscan Observant community existed at Donegal). He was also an influential spiritual adviser to the Gaelic chieftains of the north-west from the 1530s.