With the help of historians from the National Museum of Ireland, Trinity College, Dublin and Queen’s University, Belfast, Expedia has created a fascinating account of the kings and queens who reigned in Ireland thousands of years ago on their new website: Kings and Queens That Shaped Ireland. This includes a wonderful display of illustrations depicting the different kings and queens, as well as a series of connecting timelines and stories dating back some thousands of years ago.
Grace O’Malley, The Pirate Queen
Grace O’Malley commonly known as Gráinne Mhaol was the first queen of Ireland to have an audience with the Queen of England (Queen Elizabeth I). Born in 1530 to an Irish chieftain of the O’Malley family in Connacht, Maeve went on to protect her native Ireland from English rule. In the process of doing so, she was punished by Sir Richard Bingham, an Englishman sent to govern over this part of Ireland.
Her remarkable life and career has been celebrated in many poems , but also preserved for posterity in the official records of State Papers of the English crown who have in its possession letters detailing correspondence between Grace and Queen Elizabeth I. The letters show a plea Grace made to the queen about her situation with Bingham. The queen is said to have been sympathetic to Grace’s position and even warmed to the rebellious Irish queen.
A strong character, Grace is said to have spent much of her life protecting her native land from enemies and the encroaching English rule. In her strongholds of Clare Island and at Clew Bay, Grace was able to use her piracy and seafaring ways to protect the west of Ireland for a considerable amount of time.
English administration did eventually find its way into Connacht and, as a result, Grace’s opposition was punished by the confiscating of cattle and ships by the newly appointed governor of the region, Sir Richard Bingham. It is also thought that Sir Bingham held two of her sons captive.
To this day, the British Crown has letters detailing correspondence between Grace and Queen Elizabeth I. The letters show a plea Grace made to the queen about her situation with Bingham. After several letters back and forth, Grace was granted an audience with the Queen at Greenwich Castle in 1593. This was a significant meeting given Grace was the first female sovereign of Ireland to do such a thing. In accounts of this meeting, it is believed that the queen showed a lot of admiration for Grace and agreed to lift some of the sanctions made by Bingham.
Follow in The Pirate Queen’s Footsteps in Co Mayo
Today, you can explore some of the lands that Grace battled to protect by embarking on Expedia’s 2-day Mayo itinerary, visiting the towns of Westport and Newport, and the many islands of Clew Bay.
Take a road trip along Mayo’s stunning coast and allow locals to retell the tales of the pirate queen.
Content & Illustrations Credit Expedia.ie