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Grace O'Malley

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Grace O'Malley.
 

Grainne Nhaille
(c1530 - 1603)

Grace O'Malley was born in County Mayo she was called Grainne Ni Mhaille she was also sometimes called Granuaile Mhaol (Grace of the cropped hair) Her father was Owen 'Black Oak' O'Malley, chieftain of the lands around Clew Bay County Mayo.The O'Malley's engaged in piracy as well as fishing and trading.

Grace married another pirate Donal O'Flaherty, his family ruled in the Connemara region of Galway, on Galway city's west gate was inscribed "From the ferocious O'Flaherties good Lord deliver us." Donal was known as Donal the Cock, he is thought to have been killed in a battle against the Joyce's, after seizing a castle on Lough Corrib. The castle later came to be known as Hen's Castle in honour of Grace's spirited defense.

In 1566 Grace married Richard Burke owner of Rockfleet castle on the north of Clew Bay, when Grace and Burke submitted to Sir Henry Sydney in 1577 at Galway, Sydney described her as 'a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland' Burke died in 1583.

In 1593 Grace petitioned Queen Elizabeth I of England for liberty 'To invade with sword and fire all your highness enemies', she sailed up the Thames and met meet the queen at Greenwich, she is said to have been pardoned by the queen after which Grace is said to have retired.

Little is known of the last years of her life, her lands were plundered and she is thought to have died in poverty in 1603. The present owners of Westport House. claim to be directly descended from Grace so you will no doubt find more information on their site.

Grace's castle at Rockfleet 4.5 Km (3 Miles) West of Newport County Mayo can still be seen as can Kildawnet Castle on Achill Island and also one on Clare Island.

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