GRACE O’MALLEY (1530-1603) – Balladeer’s Blog takes a Saint Patrick’s Day look at Ireland’s notorious Grace O’Malley aka Grainne O’Malley aka Grania or Granuaile O’Malley. This woman was the head of the O’Malley faction in West Ireland and became legendary through her real and embellished career leading pirate crews against her enemies.
Grace became the O’Malley leader after the death of her father, despite this being unprecedented for a woman under the customs of the time. As Chief of the Name, Grace was the acknowledged power when it came to the O’Malley lands and seafaring ventures.
In 1565, during Clan warfare in Ireland, Grace’s husband Donal was killed in an ambush and his slayers in the Joyce Clan moved against the O’Malleys. The Joyces tried to take the island stronghold that later became called Hen’s Castle in honor of Grace O’Malley.
Though they had not expected any real resistance from a family led by a woman, Grace stunned the Joyces by out-generalling them and forcing them to retreat. Continue reading