A Woman to Know: Grace O'Malley

This was a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland. — Sir Henry Sidney, on Grace

There're a lot of rumors out there about this Irish pirate queen — that she killed her own husband to assume control of his 20-ship fleet; that she kidnapped dukes and duchesses for ransom; that just one day after giving birth, she was back to the ship deck, directing her crew to plunder and pillage.

But Grace's life wasn't all rumor and legend. The engraving above is record of her meeting with Queen Elizabeth I in 1593 (Grace is on the left, Elizabeth the right). Grace's fleet had been ravaged by an ongoing feud with English commander Sir Bingham, and her pirating sons were captured in battle. She asked the Queen to advocate for their release and to remove Bingham from power. After a day's negotiations, Elizabeth said yes.


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