This is a set of illustrations created for Irish language publisher An Gum.
According to Irish legend, as a young girl Grace O’Malley wished to go on a trading expedition to Spain with her father. Upon being told she could not because her long hair would catch in the ship’s ropes, she cut off most of her hair to embarrass her father into taking her, thus earning her the nickname “Gráinne Mhaol” (Irish pronunciation: from maol bald or having cropped hair). The name stuck, and was usually anglicised as Granuaile.
Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille, her father and his family were based in Clew Bay, County Mayo in Ireland. He was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan. The Uí Mháille (O’Malleys) were one of the few seafaring families on the west coast, and they built a row of castles facing the sea to protect their territory. Grace was married in 1546 to Dónal an Chogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh (Donal of the Battle) – he was much older than her and they had three children together.
O’Malley went to England and met with Elizabeth 1 at Greenwich Palace, wearing a fine gown, she refused to bow before Elizabeth because she did not recognise her as the Queen of Ireland.
Many folk stories and legends about O’Malley have survived since her days of pirating and trading with a huge number of traditional songs and poems about her.