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16th Century Female Pirate: Grace O’Malley Part 1

Accompanying her father during trading missions that took her overseas, Grace O’Malley (also known as the Pirate Queen of Connemara) began a love of travel and adventure when she was a child. She also proved a quick study full of bravery. In this article, you will learn how Miss O’Malley came to be bit by the pirating bug.

At one time, while returned from a voyage to Spain, an English vessel attacked the O’Malley’s ship. Grace’s father had always told her to hide below the deck if an attack should ever break out, but she had other plans. Climbing up onto the sail rigging, Grace was able to get a clear look at the battle that was taking place below. After spying an English pirate sneaking up on her father, she jumped from the rigging to land on the back of the pirate who was approaching her father with a dagger behind his back.

Screaming and causing quite a distraction, the O’Malleys were able to regain control of their ship and triumph over the English pirates. This was just one chapter in the life of Grace O’Malley, who spent the majority of her youth exploring and learning how to navigate the sea. Because of this, she grew to fill the shoes of a capable sailor, and would eventually lead a fleet of ship of her own.

As Grace grew older, she established a reputation for fearlessly battling with her crew and followers. Some say that she even gave birth to one of her sons while traveling by sea. On the following day, Turkish pirates descended upon her ship and attacked. Even though she was thoroughly tired from giving birth, Grace reached for a gun, appeared on deck, and riled up her men to defeat the Turks , who finally did retreat.

Grace and Her Husbands  

In her lifetime, Grace took two husbands. Her first companion was Donal O’Flaherty , the son of the chieftain of the O’Flaherty clan. Donal was next in line to take over the position of chieftain of his clan. Their marriage took place when Grace was 16 years old. It was a union built from political convenience and was an arranged marriage.

After Donal died, Grace was entitled to a portion of their husband’s estate , common in Irish law. However, the O’Flahertys did not follow this tradition and Grace was forced to rely on the O’Flaherty clan so that she could maintain. Unhappy with this arrangement, she preferred to make it on her own. With a loyal group of followers by her side, she traded on the seas as a way to earn her own money. Thanks to the training received from her father during her childhood and what she learned from her husband, she was successful in breaking away from the O’Flaherty clan.

Grace found her way back to the O’Malley clan, bringing with her faithful followers. By this time, Grace was known as a chieftain in her own right, as she was heir to her father’s clan.

To find out the circumstances surrounding Grace’s second husband, continue with the second part of “16th Century Female Pirate: Grace O’Malley.”