This summer I took a holiday to the west of Ireland – Westport in Mayo to be precise. Whilst there I discovered not only amazing beaches, food and places but I brushed up on my local history too. It turns out Westport is famed for a pretty amazing woman – Grace O’Malley aka the Pirate Queen of Ireland (c.1530 – 1603).
Opening sentence: Seafarers are a special breed of people.
The Legendary Pirate Queen
Grace O’Malley, known as Granuaile, was from a seafaring family. Her love of sailing and trading came from her father, a chieftain of an Irish clan. She followed the family tradition and headed up ships in a time when women just weren’t doing that. She knew how to earn money and hold her own, this gained her a fearsome reputation. She even gave birth to one of her sons while on a ship.
In Dublin and London, stories about her reached the English government who named her ‘the most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland.’
When Grace met Queen Elizabeth I
The Tudor era is one of my favourite points in history. So much drama. So imagine my delight when one of the big players cropped up in this story. Yes, The Pirate Queen secures herself an audience with the one and only Queen Elizabeth I – it’s so interesting to read about these two powerful women coming face to face and all their similarities.
Then, in late July 1593, she received the news she had prayed for. The queen would see her at her palace of Greenwich.
Written in a way that both children and adults can digest and enjoy the story, I really enjoyed the bitesize, easy to take it all in approach to telling this amazing slice of history. I had no idea about Grace O’Malley’s fascinating life and how much she accomplished.
Also, a shout out to the wonderful book shop where I bought this. Tertulia is perched on the edge of Ireland and while sightseeing I, of course, had to pop in. It’s such a charming book shop – you must visit if you’re ever in Westport!
- Get your copy of Pirate Queen of Ireland here;
- Published by The Collins Press 2006;
- 111 pages;
- My rating: