Saturday, June 20, 2009

Clare Island & Grace O'Malley

From the Irish Times:
Grace O’Malley was at war with English lords attempting to control Connacht. She decided to sail to London and put her case directly to the queen. Official records tell little of what went on. They do note, however, that the women chatted in Latin, as O’Malley didn’t speak English and the queen had no Irish. Afterwards, Elizabeth requested Lord Bingham to leave O’Malley be. Perhaps the English monarch fully understood the pirate queen’s plight, given the scrapes in which she became embroiled during her first years in the job.

Pirate leader, chief of the O’Malley clan and director of land forces, Grace O’Malley was principally a trader who, at the height of her career, controlled much of the Irish west coast. She traded with Spain, Portugal and Scotland, and fought rival clans and the English forces sent to bring Connacht under control. At the height of her command she held 11 castles and a fleet that included captured Turkish corsairs. Exploits include dissolving her Celtic secular marriage to her second husband by slamming the castle door in his face and stealing his castles – girl power before it had a name.

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