The amazing tale of Grace O’Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.

Clue Bay - George Karbus photography

Sitting in a Dublin pub nursing a pint of Guinness, I got talking to a fella who told me what seemed to be an amazing and improbable story.

It was about a woman from County Mayo who was a pirate and a scourge of Ireland’s west coast, in the way that Black Beard had been the scourge of the Spanish Main. The time was 16th-century Ireland, when education was rare and women spent most of their life rearing children and looking after household affairs. But that was not the life of Grace O’Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.

tower of grace by Peter lynch

The tales came thick and fast. Not everyone agreed on the facts, but a picture gradually emerged of her charismatic personality, her wild life and disregard for social mores. I was told that she was the leader of 200 fighting men on a small fleet of ships and would fight alongside them. Others said she would waylay passing merchant ships and demand a tax for safe passage – if they did not pay she plundered them. I was eager to know more, and someone gave me the number of a sailor named Aaron O’Grady who was also born on Clare Island and is something of a local expert on O’Malley. “He’s your man,” was the general consensus.

By Peter Lynch

20 June 2016


You can find the rest of the story here at BBC

the first photo courtesy : Clew Bay is scattered with hundreds of drowned drumlins (Credit: George Karbus Photography/Cultura RM/Alamy)

the second photo courtesy : Peter Lynch.

Adventures and Glory, happy traveling, in your journey through your own chronicles of Human experience


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