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Grace O'Malley

Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen

At the west coast of Ireland there is a small rocky Island called Clare Island in the Atlantic Ocean. On its eastern side, a castle is built into the rock. This was home of Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen of the 16th Century. Irish people lived in large groups of families called clans. One of these important chieftains was O'Malley. He controlled much of the Irish west coast and his ships sailed to Scotland, Spain and Portugal.
Then O'Malley got a daughter called Grace. She loved to join her father on his journeys. When her mother told her that life on a sailing ship was not usual for a girl, Grace cut off her beautiful long hair, wore on boys' clothes and went on board of her father's ship. After that, her family gave her a nickname: Grace the Bald. Soon, Grace became very good at leading ships along the dangerous rocks of the Irish coastline.
When she was 16, Grace married the son of a wealthy Irish chieftain. They had three children. She became captain of her husband's ships. After her husband's death, Grace set up home on Clare Island with a group of about 200 men. Men like Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh became famous by doing the same thing. Once, it is said, she heard about a ship which was stranded in a storm. She could rescue only one of the sailors. When Grace found him, he was close to death. They fell in love and were very happy. When he was killed on a hunting trip, Grace looked for his murderers, found them on an Island, burned their boats and took over their castle, Doona. Only Rockfleet Castle belonged to the leader of another clan. A year after her marriage to the owner of Rockfleet Castle, Grace gave birth to a child, a lovely boy. Her son was born on a ship. The following day, the ship was attacked by pirates. Grace jumped from her bed, grabbed a gun, shot one of the pirates.
Once, her ships landed in Howth Harbour near Dublin. As was the custom, Grace went directly to see the Lord of Howth to ask for his ...

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