Grace O'Malley Castle

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Grace O'Malley - Irish Pirate Queen


During the Depression when the O'Malley children were young, their Nana (Elizabeth Ginley),
regaled them with stories of the famous Irish pirate queen whose lineage they shared. Grace
O’Malley (Granuaile or Ghráinne Ní Mháille) lived a full life from 1530 until her death in 1603.
Nana related in exquisite detail stories of Grace's daring exploits built on legends and folklore.
They documented her grit and the sheer force of her prowess that endeared Grace to hundreds
under her command. As her army grew in numbers and strength, her leadership was successful in
the fight against the tyranny of Great Britain as proof of her clan motto "Powerful by Land and
Sea." Nana also described the lush green hills of Ireland and the lapping waves of Achill Sound
in County Mayo, along with her visits to the Grace O'Malley castles in County Mayo and County
Clare. The stories delighted her grandchildren and ignited their desire to visit their ancestral
home as they imagined their own adventures on the high seas. At a time when the family didn’t
have much to eat, stories from their Nana fed their imagination and assuaged hunger pangs until
they became a distant memory.

Contemporary photo of the remains of Grace's Castle

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A sign pointing the way to the castle of Grace O'Malley & another

contemporary view of it

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Grace O'Malley's elegant 4-poster bed. Location: In Belleek Castle, Balin, County Mayo, Ireland - currently on display at Westport House.