c 1603

Gráinne Ní Mháille (c.1530 - c.1603), commonly known as Grace O'Malley, was a legendary Irish pirate and Chieftan of the Ó Mháille clan during the 16th century.

Born around 1530, Ní Mháille was the child of a wealthy sea trader who she accompanied on his voyages from a young age. As a teenager she was married to Donal Ó Flaithbheartaigh, heir to a powerful clan, as a political move. The marriage lasted for 19 years, during which they had three children and Ní Mháille gained considerable experience commanding ships in her husband’s fleet.

Following the death of her husband and her father, Ní Mháille inherited a considerable amount of money and took over her father’s fleet of 20 ships and hundreds of sailors. She built on her father’s success to become one the dominant forces on the Irish west coast, launching raids on rival clans, forcing merchant ships to pay for safe passage, and imposing taxes on fishermen as far away as England. She also transported Gallowglass mercenaries between Scotland and Ireland, often raiding Scottish islands at the same time.  Her position was strengthened by the control of several coastal castles, most prominent of which was Rockfleet Castle, which she gained through her second marriage to Risdeárd Bourke. After a year of marriage she is said to have taken control of the castle, barring Bourke from entering and yelling from a window, “I dismiss you!”.

Ní Mháille had a tumultuous relationship with the English. From the early 1560’s onward she was accused of piracy multiple times, but she won some favour with the English by assisting in coastal attacks on southern Ireland and won the respect of Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. However n 1579 she was besieged in her castle by English forces, who she defeated by pouring hot oil on the attackers and according to some accounts by making homemade bullets from melted down armour.

Ní Mháille made a lasting enemy in the form of Richard Bingham, the English ruler of Connacht, after she fought alongside the Bourkes in open rebellion against him from 1585 to 1589. Bingham sought revenge for the rebellion by targeting Ní Mháille, destroying her lands and property. Bingham killed Ní Mháille’s eldest son, Eoghan, and captured his castle, while making a deal with one of her other sons, Murchadh, to switch sides. Ní Mháille swore never to speak to Murchadh again after his betrayal and burned his lands.

Financially ruined, the final blow to Ní Mháille came in 1593 when Bingham captured her other son, Tiobóid, as well as her brother and threatened them with charges of treason. Ní Mháille petitioned Queen Elizabeth of England directly to ask for their release. Elizabeth sent Ní Mháille a list of questions which she answered, and later that year the two women met at Greenwich Palace near London. Despite Ní Mháille’s rough manners and refusal to bow, the two women, both in their sixties, seemed to develop a healthy respect for each other. As neither spoke the other’s language they conversed in Latin, striking an agreement that Ní Mháille’s family would be released, reparations would be made for her stolen property, and that Bingham would be removed from power.

The agreement did not last. Reparations were not fully made, and while initially stripped of his position, Bingham was eventually allowed to return to power in Ireland. Angered, Ní Mháille returned to helping Irish rebels during the Nine Years’ War. She died of old age in Rockfleet Castle at the end of the war in 1603. After her death Ní Mháille’s fighting prowess led to many Irish folk tales being told about her and she is still remembered as a legendary pirate.

THE PIRATE QUEEN || Grace O’Malley

Grace O'Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603; also Gráinne O'Malley. Irish: Gráinne Ní Mháille) was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan in the west of Ireland, following in the footsteps of her father Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Commonly known as Gráinne Mhaol (anglicised as Granuaile) in Irish folklore, she is a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history, and is sometimes known as “The Sea Queen of Connacht”. She was well-educated and regarded by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable and competent. Upon her father’s death she inherited his large shipping and trading business (a trade sometimes referred to as mere piracy).

Around the time of her first husband’s death came the initial complaints to the English Council in Dublin from Galway’s city leaders that O'Flaherty and O'Malley ships were behaving like pirates. Because Galway imposed taxes on the ships that traded their goods there, the O'Flahertys, led by O'Malley, decided to extract a similar tax from ships traveling in waters off their lands. O'Malley’s ships would stop and board the traders and demand either cash or a portion of the cargo in exchange for safe passage. Resistance was met with violence and even murder. Once they obtained their toll, the ships would disappear into one of the many bays in the area.

She recruited fighting men from both Ireland and Scotland, transporting the gallowglass mercenaries between their Scottish homes and Irish employers and plundering Scotland’s outlying islands on her return trips.

She attacked ships as far away as Waterford on the south central coast of Ireland and fortresses on the shoreline, including Curradh Castle at Renvyle, the O'Loughlin castle in the Burren and the O'Boyle and MacSweeney clans in their holdings in Burtonport, Killybegs and Lough Swilly.

Orson Welles, Publicity Still from His Production of “Othello”      1951


“If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken’d death!” 

–William Shakespeare, “Othello” c.1603

The Sacrifice of Isaac is the title of two paintings from c. 1598 - 1603 depicting the sacrifice of Isaac. The version below is housed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. According to the early biographer Giovanni Bellori, Caravaggio painted a version of this subject for Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, the future Pope Urban VIII, and a series of payments totalling one hundred scudi were made to the artist by Barberini between May 1603 and January 1604. Caravaggio had previously painted a Portrait of Maffeo Barberini, which presumably pleased the cardinal enough for him to commission this second painting. Isaac has been identified as Cecco Boneri, who appeared as Caravaggio’s model in several other pictures. Recent X-ray analysis showed that Caravaggio used Cecco also for the angel, and later modified the profile and the hair to hide the resemblance.

5

‘Appy St. Patrick’s Day ye scurvy dogs! Let’s celebrate with some famous Irish pirates eh!?

1) Anne Bonny (c. 1700 - c. 1782)[1] was an Irish woman who became a famous pirate, operating in the Caribbean.[2] What little is known of her life comes largely from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates.


2) Edward England, born Edward Seegar (c.1685–1721)[3][4] was a famous African coast and Indian Ocean pirate captain from 1717 to 1720. The ships he sailed on included the Pearl (which he renamed The Royal James) and later the Fancy, for which England exchanged the Pearl in 1720. His flag was the classic Jolly Roger with a skull above two crossed Humerus bones on a black background.

3) Edward Jordan {no picutre} (1771–1809) was an Irish rebel, fisherman and pirate in Nova Scotia. He was typical of the violent but short-lived pirates in the 19th century following the end of “Golden Age of Piracy” in the 18th century. Born in County Carlow, Ireland, he took part in the Irish rebellions of 1797-98 but was pardoned and attempted to start a new life as a fisherman in Nova Scotia. On 13 September 1809, desperate to avoid debts, he slaughtered the crew of a merchant who came to seize the schooner he owned named Three Sisters.

4) Walter Kennedy (ca. 1695 - July 21, 1721) was an English pirate who served as a crew member under Howell Davis and Bartholomew Roberts. Walter Kennedy was born in 1695 at a place called Pelican Stairs in Wapping, London.[1] Possibly one or both of his parents were of Irish descent due to the fact that Bartholomew Roberts considered him to be Irish.

5) Grace O'Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603; also Gráinne O'Malley,[1]Irish: Gráinne Ní Mháille) was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan following in the footsteps of her father Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Upon his death, she inherited his large shipping and trading business (sometimes accused of being a piracy trade) Commonly known by her nickname Granuaile in Irish folklore, she is a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history, and is sometimes known as “The Sea Queen of Connacht”.

Statue of River Goddess
Plate from Galleria Giustiniana del Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani (Rome 1631)

Cornelis Bloemaert, Dutch, c. 1603 - 1692. After Giovanni Citosibio Guidi, Italian (active Rome), active c. 1625 - 1635.

Geography:
Made in Netherlands, Europe
Date:
Date unknown
Medium:
Engraving

Philadelphia Museum of Art