Granuaile: The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley: C. 1530-1603 by Anne Chambers

The forgotten woman of Irish history…


Grace O’Malley was a formidable woman – an early (16th century) feminist from the west of Ireland. The only child of a Co. Mayo chieftan and corsair, she carried on the family ‘business’ of piracy and trading, and was constantly at odds with the British establishment, which by then was starting to reach across Ireland from within The Pale. She lived till more than 60 years old (an ancient age in those days), and somehow found the time and energy to lead her men into battle, have two husbands, at least one lover (a Wexfordman, of course) have three children, smuggle Gallowglass mercenaries in from Scotland on her fleet of gallies and get jailed. She even got round to meeting up with Queen Elizabeth in London.
Anne Chamber’s book is the definitive source for anyone interested in Granuaille. That said, I did find the book a little tedious at times Every so often I would come a cross a statement that she had already made in an earlier chapter, as if a lack of confidence drove Chambers to keep backing up her earlier statements.
I wouldn’t let this put anyone off reading the book tho. Granuaille’s story comes under the Blather category of Damn Good Read. Recommended!
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Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.