Ireland’s Pirate Queen was at heart a businesswoman

Ireland’s Pirate Queen was at heart a businesswoman
Clare Island, the stronghold of the 15th century Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley & a statue of O’Malley in Westport in Co Mayo Pic: Shutterstock/Getty

Her story was nearly written out of existence because of her gender, but the legend of Grace O’Malley – sailor, wife, mother, political tactician – continues to endure to this day. Here, for The Sunday Business Post, Anne Chambers takes up the story

For centuries, the life of Grace O’Malley was abandoned to the vagaries of fiction and folklore. Official history seemed reluctant to acknowledge not merely the extraordinary role she played on land and at sea, but her very existence. Why this should be the case says more about the negative side of being an icon than perhaps it does about being Grace O’Malley. Icons tend to be dissident, subversive, mould-breaking, radical, at times heretical, which often results in their banishment instead of their commemoration in historical record. Since Grace O’Malley subscribed to all these traits she thereby paid the penalty of omission from our history books.

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