The famous pirate of Granuaile.


Who was Granuaile?

Granuaile also known as Grace O’Malley was born about 1530 in Ireland to Dudara and Margaret O’Malley. Her father was a sea captain and the chieftan of the O’Malley clan. Even at an early age, she showed courageous attributes and the ability to accomplish shrewd deals.

One story of this courageous woman is that while traveling aboard her father’s ship on a return trip from Spain, the English attacked the ship. Her father ordered her to stay below decks, however, instead of obeying she jumped on the back of an attacker just before they killed her father. Another story is that shortly giving birth to her youngest son aboard her own ship, Algerian pirates attacked. She saw that her men were losing ground and she ran to the deck and rallied her men to defeat the pirates.

When Granuaile was around the age of 14 or 15, she married Donal O’Flaherty. She had three children: Owen, Murrough, and Margaret. Her husband was not much of a leader and his people were suffering. Granuaile took over as chieftan, even though it was not allowed for a woman to have such a title. When her husband passed away, she was denied all of her inheritance, thus she went back home to her father and began sailing aboard his ships.

She headed off on her own to Clare Island with 200 hundred men at her side. Here she began her career as a pirate; however, she preferred to call her career maintenance by land and sea.

Granuaile set her eyes on Rocklfleet castle the only place on Clare Island not owned by the O’Malley’s. From the castle, you could see any ship passing by. With her heart set on owning the castle, she married Richard in-Iron Bourke. Together they had one son Tibbott-ne-long. This marriage was one truly to gain the castle. While her husband was away, she locked the castle, and upon his return declared divorce, which was allowed by Brehon law.

In 1578, Granuaile was being held in prison Dublin Castle. During this time, most prisoners sent here never saw the light of day. However, Granuaile served 18 months and was set free.

In 1586, Granuaile was once again seized for her pirating. She was to hang at the gallows; however, she exchanged her son-in-law and 1,000 cattle for freedom.

Granuaile visited Queen Elizabeth I in September 1593 at Greenwich Castle to ask for a pardon.

It is believed that she died in Rockfleet Castle around 1603. She was known as one of the most famous Irish Female Pirates of all times.

Grace O’Malley meeting Queen Elizabeth I


 The famous pirate of Granuaile.

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