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Granuaile (Grace O'Malley): Ireland's Pirate Queen  

Why are a number of Irish pubs in North America named "Grace O'Malley's"? Here is the way the pub in Norfolk, Virginia answers that question: Grace O'Malley (Irish: Gráinne Ní Mháille) was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan, rebel, seafarer, and a fearless leader of Ireland. Grace's extraordinary life began in 1530, born to the seafaring O'Malley clan that controlled the southwest of County Mayo from their castle on Clare Island. Proud and feisty from the get-go, Grace cut off all her hair and dressed in boys' clothes to sneak aboard her father's ship and prove to her parents that she could live a sailor's life. Her family then nicknamed her Grainne Mhaol, which meant Grainne the Bald. This was later shortened and anglicised to Granuaile, the Irish name by which this notorious legend is best known today. Ambitious and fiercely independent, Grace excelled in the traditional seafaring trade of her family, with some piracy and plundering on the side. When the English captured her son and brother in 1593, Grace boldly set sail for England to confront Queen Elizabeth I herself. Upon meeting the Queen, Grace defiantly refused to bow, and somehow our daring Irish rebel convinced the bemused Queen to free her family and restore her lands. By the time of her death at the age of 70, Grace was widely known for her sea adventures and fierce leadership, well earning her the title of Pirate Queen and Sea Queen of Connacht. This class includes pictures from the County Mayo environs where she spent her life.


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