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Grace O’Malley

Find out more about one of Ireland's most beloved and courageous queens.




Grace O’Malley


Grace O’Malley, or the “Pirate Queen” as she is famously known, was born in 1530 to an Irish chieftain of the O’Malley’s of Murrisk in the province of Connacht. Grace was also nicknamed Granuaile or Gráinne Mhaol when she once cut her hair short to pose as a male.

A strong character, Grace is said to have spent much of her life protecting her native land from enemies and encroaching English rule. From her strongholds of Clare Island and Clew Bay, Grace was able to use her piracy and seafaring ways to protect the west of Ireland for a considerable amount of time.

1530AD Born in Murrisk, County Mayo

Maeve was born into an Irish clan (considered to be Irish royalty at the time).

1546AD Marries O'Flaherty

Grace marries Dónal an Chogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh and has three children with him: Eógan; Méadhbh and Murchadh.

1566AD Marries Risdeárd an Iarainn ("Iron Richard") Bourke

Grace marries Risdeárd an Iarainn Bourke, or "Iron Richard" as the first part of his name translates.

1593AD Sir Bingham's punishment of Grace

It is thought that Sir Richard Bingham, appointed by the British crown as governor to the province of Connacht, punished Grace for rebelling against him.

1593AD An audience with Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich Castle

Grace is granted an audience with Queen Elizabeth I to plead her case against Bingham. To this day, the British Crown has letters detailing correspondence between Grace and Queen Elizabeth I. It is believed that the queen showed a lot of admiration for Grace and agreed to lift some of the sanctions made by Bingham.

1603AD Grace dies

Grace O'Malley is said to have died in 1603 at Rockfleet Castle in County Mayo.