We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who Was Grace O'Malley?

Jessica Ellis
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Grace O'Malley is the English name of Ireland’s most famous female pirate, Grania Ni Mhaille. A contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Grace controlled much of the Irish west coast, relying on piracy and trading to make her fortunes. He power and reputation grew to be so large, she eventually met with Elizabeth in England, in one of the most storied meetings of the 16th century.

The daughter of a successful shipping merchant, Grace O'Malley is believed to have been born around 1530. Her father was the influential head of the O’Malley clan, and Grace is believed to have had some formal education. At about 16, Grace’s family entered her into a political marriage with the powerful O’Flaherty clan, which resulted in three children. Grace is believed to have been extremely charismatic and popular, and following her husband’s death, many O’Flaherty clan members chose to leave their ancestral homes and join her at her castle on Clare Island. However, she was cheated out of some of her rightful estates by rivals, a mistake she would not allow to happen a second time.

O'Malley was a natural ruler, and decided to enlarge her holdings by marrying a second time. After the first year of marriage ended, Grace divorced her husband and managed storm and hold onto the strategically important Rockfleet Castle, which had belonged to her husband. Grace O'Malley is believed to have had at least one son from this brief marriage, and may have had others out of wedlock.

The powerful woman’s most profitable method of income was based on a policy similar to that of the English controlled territories. Grace employed dozens of ships to tax any ship found in her territorial waters. The tax collecting ships were given orders to obtain the money by any means, including extreme violence. Because of their superior knowledge of the Irish coast, Grace’s ships could easily escape any vengeful actions.

One famous legend about Grace O'Malley occurred during her marriage to Donal O’Flaherty. Donal is believed to have been quite arrogant, having taken a castle from the Joyce Clan and bragged extensively about it. The sulky Joyces called the fortress Cock’s Castle, but the name was changed after Donal’s death. When the Joyce clan attempted to seize the castle back from Grace, they were severely beaten as they had underestimated her abilities. Afterwards, the castle was locally renamed Hen’s Castle.

During Grace’s rule, English dominance in Ireland became increasingly widespread and the English government was not pleased with O’Malley’s exploits. In 1593, three of Grace’s relatives were taken captive by the British, and Grace took the dangerous chance of going to England to meet with the queen about their release. Famously, the meeting took place in Latin, as Grace O'Malley did not speak English and Elizabeth did not speak Gaelic. Many stories and songs have been written about the long conversation between the two women, one who ruled in name and the other who ruled simply by force. Although no transcripts of the conversation exist, Elizabeth ordered the release of Grace’s relatives and made several other bargains with her.

Despite signing agreements with Elizabeth to cease any pirate activity against the English, Grace O'Malley broke her promises on learning that Elizabeth was not sticking to her some of her bargains. She is believed to have died in 1603, the same year as her British contemporary. Grace O'Malley is a legendary figure in Ireland today, and the subject of many ballads, songs and stories. Her courage and abilities have been translated into characters for books, TV shows, and a rumored feature film.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for PublicPeople. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

Writer

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.