GRACE O'MALLEY - GAELIC WARRIOR PRINCESS
Ireland's contribution to female heroines includes the 16th-century Grainne Ni Mhaille who was known as the 'Queen of the Irish Seas'.
She was called Mhaol (meaning 'cropped hair'), but was called Grace O'Malley by the English. Born in the Province of Connacht, Grainne married and had 3 children before she commenced her famous career on the high seas, marshaling 3 pirate ships and up to 200 men as she opposed the English attempts to remove her.
Her husband was an O'Flaherty who was executed by Queen Elizabeths colonists who attempted to completely subjugate the Irish way of life. In 1556 she married again, this time to Iron Richard Burke and had a son named Tibbot. Captured and jailed for 2 years she returned to her homeland in Connaught to continue her defiance.
In 1558 Elizabeth I pardoned her in an attempt to bring peace to the region but this attempt failed as the local English administrators continued to goad the woman who had been a thorn in their side for years. They even interned her son and brother despite Elizabeth I instructing that they be released.
Fighting was her only means of survival and this she did until the Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 checked her dominance. She died in 1603 and has since been, to a large degree, overlooked as a genuine heroine of Irish history.
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