Well, I can think of no greater misfit then the famed Pirate Queen of Ireland, Gráinne Mhaol or Grace O’Malley. The O’Malley’s ruled a large part of the west coast for over 300 years. A seafaring family, they built strong holds and castles all up and down the coastline. This was a very tumultuous time in Irelands history, with England decided] integrate all the Irish clans under English rule. The Dublin area was already very English, and had been for years, but most of the rest of Ireland was still ruled by Gaelic clans. The English used many techniques to rule over, from giving clans who swore loyalty to England their lands, to all-out war. They used the clan divisions to help, by letting the Irish weaken other clans and fight amongst each other.
Grace was born in 1530 near Westport. In her teens she wanted to join her father sailing, and he told her no way was he going to have her on his ship, her long hair would get tangled up. Grace sheered her own hair off and climbed onboard. Getting her the nick name Baldy O’Malley.
Her adventures and stories are too numerous and crazy to go into too much detail here, so I provided some links below. Let’s just say; she attacked castles, sailed ships, had maritime battles, and ruled. She even had a baby on a ship and then climbed up on deck the next day to fight with her men when they were attacked. Was married two times, bore numerous children, navigated Irish politics and English politics, and never stopped leading her people.
When things got really bad, she sailed all the way to England and negotiated with Queen Elizabeth 1 the release of her husband and son from the English, a pardon for her past, and a promise to assist the English.
This was no ordinary person, and I am pretty certain, that for a woman to accomplish this much during times where woman was not treated well or respected, was quite amazing. Truthfully, I think if she was a man she would be celebrated as Ireland’s greatest hero.
The castle that I drew was one of her strong holds on Achill Island, Kildavnet Castle, in which she resided for many years. Interesting enough, there was no staircase to the top floors, so a ladder must have been used. This would ensure the safety of those inside during a siege. Pretty cool stuff. It was built by the O’Malley clan back in 1429.
I have not done any justice to this incredible woman, so you should read up on it more. I have also included a brief video that gives a great background on her. There appears to be a movie being made on her, but it clearly is very low budget. It would be wonderful to get a Game of Thrones quality series on her life.
Grace O’Malley Short History Video
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