Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley, or the “Pirate Queen” as she is famously known, was born in 1530 to an Irish chieftain of the O’Malley’s of Murrisk in the province of Connacht. Grace was also nicknamed Granuaile or Gráinne Mhaol when she once cut her hair short to pose as a male.

A strong character, Grace is said to have spent much of her life protecting her native land from enemies and the encroaching English rule. In her strongholds of Clare Island and at Clew Bay, Grace was able to use her piracy and seafaring ways to protect the west of Ireland for a considerable amount of time.

English administration did eventually find its way into Connacht and, as a result, Grace’s opposition was punished by the confiscating of cattle and ships by the newly appointed governor of the region, Sir Richard Bingham. It is also thought that Sir Bingham held two of her sons captive.

To this day, the British Crown has letters detailing correspondence between Grace and Queen Elizabeth I. The letters show a plea Grace made to the queen about her situation with Bingham. After several letters back and forth, Grace was granted an audience with the Queen at Greenwich Castle in 1593. This was a significant meeting given Grace was the first female sovereign of Ireland to do such a thing. In accounts of this meeting, it is believed that the queen showed a lot of admiration for Grace and agreed to lift some of the sanctions made by Bingham.

Take a road trip along Mayo’s stunning coast and allow locals to retell the tales of the pirate queen.

Pirate Queen Grace's 2-Day Itinerary
1530

Born in Murrisk, County Mayo

Maeve was born into an Irish clan (considered to be Irish royalty at the time).

1546

Marries O'Flaherty

Grace marries Dónal an Chogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh and has three children with him: Eógan; Méadhbh and Murchadh.

1566

Marries Risdeárd an Iarainn ("Iron Richard") Bourke

Grace marries Risdeárd an Iarainn Bourke, or "Iron Richard" as the first part of his name translates.

1593

Sir Bingham's punishment of Grace

It is thought that Sir Richard Bingham, appointed by the British crown as governor to the province of Connacht, punished Grace for rebelling against him.

1593

An audience with Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich Castle

Grace is granted an audience with Queen Elizabeth I to plead her case against Bingham. The queen calls for release of her family members and lifts the sanctions imposed by Bingham.

1603

Grace dies

Grace O'Malley is said to have died in 1603 at Rockfleet Castle in County Mayo.

Pirate Queen Grace's 2-Day Itinerary
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