Grace O’Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603; also Gráinne O’Malley, Irish: Gráinne Ní Mháille). She was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a pirate in 16th century Ireland. She is commonly known by her nickname Granuaile in Irish folklore. That’s right – a female pirate. Known to her contemporaries as “The Pirate Queen of Connaught,” raided shipping vessels, battled English armies, conquered castles from rival Irish clans, and allegedly once traveled to London to meet Queen Elizabeth.
It was said that Grace towered over the Queen despite her majesty’s enormous wigs. It is rumored while speaking with the Queen, Grace sneezed. She was given a handkerchief, blew her nose, than tossed it into the fire. The English were appalled and reprimanded her for destroying it. My opinion on what she said is, ‘no wonder you English are sickly for you reuse a dirty handkerchief.’ Whatever she said, the Queen did not have her executed for the offense.
Grace O’Malley dominated the shipping lanes for 50 years and accumulated tons of wealth. She was never conquered, never defeated, and died an old woman.
Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki Leon