17
Mar
09

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Gather ’round for story time!

In honor of the wearin’ of the green, I know I could relate the traditional legend about St. Patrick ridding Ireland of snakes. Rather than perpetuate bullshit, though, here’s a real Irish story from my family tree about our proudest member, Grace O’Malley, the famed bald pirate from back in the day:

Grace O’Malley (also called Granuaile) was a famous pirate, seafarer, trader and chieftain in Ireland in the 1500’s. She was born in 1530 in County Mayo, Ireland and was the daughter of sea captain Owen O’Malley. As a young child, Grace always knew she wanted to be a sailor but as a female, she was discouraged repeatedly. Extremely upset when her father refused to take her on a sailing trip, legend has it Grace cut off all her hair and dressed in boys clothes to prove to her parents that she could handle the trip and live a seafarer’s life. Seeing this, her father and brother laughed aloud and nicknamed her “Grainne Mhaol” meaning “Bald Grace” (which is believed to have led to her nickname “Granuaile.”) Eventually, through her persistence, she was allowed to go to sea with her father and his fleet of ships.

In her later years, Grace developed her reputation as a fearless leader through her efforts in battle along side her followers. Legend has it that Grace gave birth to one of her sons while out to sea. The very next day following the birth of the baby, the ship was attacked by Turkish pirates. Though exhausted from giving birth Grace grabbed a gun, went on deck and proceded to rally her men against the Turks, forcing their retreat.

At 56 years old, Grace was captured by Sir Richard Bingham, a ruthless Governer appointed by the Queen to rule over the regranted territories. Soon after his appointment, Bingham sent guards to arrest Grace and have her hanged. Grace was apprehended and along with members of her clan, imprisoned and scheduled for execution. Determined to die with dignity, Grace held her head high as she awaited her execution. At the last minute, Grace’s son-in-law offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the promise that Grace would never return to her rebellious ways. Bingham released Grace on this promise but was determined to keep her from power and make her suffer for her insurrection. Over the course of time, Bingham was responsible for taking away her cattle, forcing her into poverty, even plotting the murder of her eldest son, Owen.

In short, she personified the best stuff to know about the Irish: We’re bawdy, witty, willful, and tough as shit. And the English are petty dickheads. The end. Now go get drunk and pick a fight with anyone with bad teeth.

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