THAT MAKES for an interesting tale, but is there any truth to it?
No, say historians. More likely the Red Hand of Ulster has its origins in a Biblical reference to the right hand being symbolic of God's power and authority. Interestingly, the Ripley cartoon shows Heremon O'Neil throwing his right hand ashore, though the legend usually says O'Neill cut off his left hand. Ripley's version fits the coat of arms that displays a right hand.
The Red Hand of Ulster may be traced to Psalm 98:1