GRACE O'MALLEY - GAELIC WARRIOR PRINCESS
Ireland's contribution to female heroines includes
the 16th-century Grainne Ni Mhaille who was known as
the 'Queen of the Irish Seas'.
She was called Mhaol (meaning 'cropped hair'),
but was called Grace O'Malley by the English. Born in the
Province of Connacht, Grainne married and had 3 children
before she commenced her famous career on the high seas,
marshaling 3 pirate ships and up to 200 men as she opposed
the English attempts to remove her.
Her husband was an O'Flaherty who was executed by Queen
Elizabeths colonists who attempted to completely subjugate
the Irish way of life. In 1556 she married again, this time
to Iron Richard Burke and had a son named Tibbot. Captured
and jailed for 2 years she returned to her homeland in
Connaught to continue her defiance.
In 1558 Elizabeth I pardoned her in an attempt to bring
peace to the region but his attempt failed as the local
English administrators continued to goad the woman who had
been a thorn in their side for years. They even interned
her son and brother despite Elizabeth I instructing that
they be released.
Fighting was her only means of survival and this she did
until the Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601
checked her dominance. She died in 1603 and has since
been, to a large degree, overlooked as a genuine heroine
of Irish history.
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