Irish Pirate Queen & Scourge of the English Empire
Grace was infamous in Ireland and England alike. Her enemies feared her. Her followers respected her. And for over 40 years, she raided and pillaged English settlements in protest of the creeping Imperialism in her home country. A day after the birth of her son, she got out of bed to quell an attempt by corsairs to take over her ship.
Check out the full episode to hear these stories and more, including a final confrontation with Queen Elizabeth that literally went down in the history books.
(please excuse any errors, spelling or otherwise – audio transcription is tricky)
Hello, and welcome to BROADS YOU SHOULD KNOW, the podcast about amazing and noteworthy women in history. I am Chloe Skye.
Sara Gorsky 1:05
I’m Sara Gorsky.
Sam Eggers 1:06
And I’m Sam Eggers.
Chloe Sky 1:07
And today I am talking about someone from way back. Her name is Grace O’Malley.
Sara Gorsky 1:14
Chloe Sky 1:16
So what do either of you know about Grace O’Malley?
Sara Gorsky 1:19
Chloe Sky 1:20
Correct. Nailed that part.
Sam Eggers 1:23
I feel like I have an unfair advantage here because the musical theater nerd in me knows that there is musical on Broadway called The Pirate Queen.
Sara Gorsky 1:32
Oh, she’s a pirate queen!!!
Chloe Sky 1:34
She is a pirate queen.
Sam Eggers 1:36
Sara Gorsky 1:37
Oh my God, I’m so excited.
Chloe Sky 1:40
She is a she is a pirate queen who was the scourge of the British Empire for a very long time.
Sara Gorsky 1:47
Wait is this the same pirate Queen that Brecht wrote about?
Sam Eggers 1:50
Oh, I don’t know.
Sara Gorsky 1:52
Sam Eggers 1:53
I’d also – I don’t – I have a feeling the music that that musical was not terribly accurate to history. Also I think I remember it strongly being about her being in love with some guy.
Chloe Sky 2:03
Wow, that’s such a. That’s like one bullet point in my research.
Sara Gorsky 2:07
That must be a pirate queen. Think about his men. Well, yeah,
Chloe Sky 2:11
Sam Eggers 2:12
Chloe Sky 2:14
So I started doing the research because I saw a meme that described her as a pirate queen. And it told told two stories. One was about her divorcing her second husband after they were only married for a year. But somehow she still maintained ownership of his castle and his loyalty and war.
Sara Gorsky 2:32
Sam Eggers 2:33
Sara Gorsky 2:34
That’s how it should be.
Chloe Sky 2:34
I was like, that’s how you do it. Like that’s the that’s a broad if I’ve ever heard of one. And then there was a – there was another story about how the same husband when their – when their only son was born she was like out on a voyage and her ship was attacked by either Turkish or Algerian and Corsairs the day after he was born. And she got out of bed and killed the captains and change – and turn to the tide of battle with two blunderbusses one in each hand.
Sam Eggers 3:05
Sara Gorsky 3:06
Post-partum murderess. I love it.
Chloe Sky 3:09
So Sam, I’m expecting you to be able to fight off pirates the day after your child is born.
Sam Eggers 3:15
I mean, that’s part of the plan.
Chloe Sky 3:16
Okay. Yeah, it’s necessary to be on this podcast. So…
Sam Eggers 3:22
Damn, I don’t think I’ll feel like a broad now if I don’t.
Sara Gorsky 3:26
You can borrow my sword, Sam.
Sam Eggers 3:28
Yes, please. I’d appreciate that.
Chloe Sky 3:31
But so then I started doing the research and it took me in a million different directions. It turns out the story about the corsairs and the baby being born is true. That one actually did happen. The divorce story is not true. But what actually happened, I think is almost better.
Sara Gorsky 3:50
Chloe Sky 3:51
The story that they’d got divorced is based on this thing that happened where he was out voyaging and while he was gone, she changed all the locks on all the doors in their castle, packed up all of his clothes, threw them over the battle – over the ramparts, and when he came back, she was up there going, “Okay, you can go now, like, I don’t want you in here.” And they spent some time apart. And eventually they made up but…
Sam Eggers 4:18
I love – what I love about this…
Sara Gorsky 4:20
Did it say why? Did it say like what she – did she cheat on her? Like, was there some sort of a…
Chloe Sky 4:25
There is only speculation about about why. Everyone speculates at different reason so I didn’t want to just like list theories.
Oh, I love theories. Secretly.
Sam Eggers 4:36
I just love the idea of like, because it can’t be easy to change the locks on a fucking castle. Like, who do you call to change the like, massive lock on…
Sara Gorsky 4:49
The blacksmith! They all have their own blacksmith and shit. Right?
Sam Eggers 4:52
That true. They probably had someone like in the courtyard.
Sara Gorsky 4:55
Wait, what year? What year are we talking about?
Chloe Sky 4:57
Good question. So she was born in 1530 so this, um, her marriage with him was in like the 1560s.
Sara Gorsky 5:07
So there are still blacksmiths. Blacksmith were still in, then.
Sam Eggers 5:13
It was still in fashion. In use. People don’t change, either. Like, it’s 1560 or it’s like 2020 and you’re still gonna be like, “I changed the locks and I threw your shit out. Bye.” Like, people are the same, we do not change.
Chloe Sky 5:30
Sam Eggers 5:31
Chloe Sky 5:32
Sara Gorsky 5:33
And disturbing, at the same time. Comforting and disturbing.
Chloe Sky 5:37
Right. So, before I get too much into her life story, there’s some backstory about what was going on in like, the 1500s that I didn’t know about that is relevant in terms of what motivated her entire life. So I felt it was it was relevant to this particular story.
Sara Gorsky 5:57
If I didn’t learn it in Braveheart, then I probably don’t know.
Chloe Sky 6:01
Sara Gorsky 6:01
So I’m excited to learn more history.
Chloe Sky 6:04
So around this time, Ireland is essentially two different cultures. There’s Dublin and their, like, surrounding territories, which is all English-owned and English-controlled, and then there’s everywhere else which is like native Irish, and Gaelic people and Dublin and the other English people are terrified of all those people.
Sara Gorsky 6:26
They’re like heathens? Are they like considered like absolute heathens?
Chloe Sky 6:32
Yeah, they have their own religion. They’re not Christian. They’re, they’re Gaelic and their goal, much like the Christian goal is to convert everyone in Ireland to their side. They’ve established like, sort of a peace between the two. And England is content to just like, let everything remain as it is. If there’s a rebellion that comes up of, like, Gaelic people, they’ll quash it, but they won’t try to like take over new land, until Henry VIII shows up and says…
Sara Gorsky 7:00
Ooooh, Henry the VIII is the WORST.
Chloe Sky 7:03
Right? He’s like, “actually, all of Ireland is mine now. It’s a it’s all mine, and Gaelic people, you’re gonna have to fucking go.”
Sara Gorsky 7:13
Gaelic culture is so much infinitely more interesting than British culture.
Chloe Sky 7:18
It really is.
Sara Gorsky 7:19
Can I just say it? Oh, my god, they’re – all their gods all they’re like, it’s all so much more interesting.
Chloe Sky 7:27
Well, they’re also… they’re there. They’re far less misogynistic. As I was reading about their, like, marriage laws, which is also relevant to the story, like, in English culture at this time, if you were a woman, and you married a man, he immediately became the owner of all your property.
Sam Eggers 7:46
Sara Gorsky 7:46
Chloe Sky 7:46
Whereas in Gaelic culture, if you got married to someone, everything that was yours remained yours for both parties. So like, if you got divorced, or if someone died, you kept all your shit, they kept all their shit and you just went your seperate ways.
Sara Gorsky 8:02
Yeah and until Henry VIII, wanted to sleep around divorce wasn’t even possible in Britain.
Chloe Sky 8:07
Right. So Henry VIII was not able to make much headway and taking out the Gaelic clans, because they knew the coastline of Ireland so well that they could hide out and plan sneak attacks. So like every time Henry VIII would send a force to fight them, they just crushed him. So it’s Queen Elizabeth who is the first one to actually make progress in taking over Ireland. She decides to take you know, pick up the mantle where Henry VIII left off, she uses a divide and conquer strategy where she would plant people who were loyal to the crown all over the island to sort of normalize the usage of English, and they wouldn’t like try to cause trouble, they’d just be using English and teaching people English. And then she would use them as spies to let her know if two of the Gaelic clans were having a fight with each other, and she would offer one of them support for loyalty.
Sam Eggers 9:06
Dang, that is sneaky. Very smart.
Sara Gorsky 9:10
I mean, Elizabeth was like super smart.
Sam Eggers 9:12
She knew what was up.
Chloe Sky 9:14
And so she starts replacing all the leaders of all these clans, with people who are in the clan, but loyal to the crown. And she’s like worked out special deals with them. Also, they’re going – the clans are going to start following English laws instead of Gaelic laws. And she just one at a time is knocking out all these clans. So, back to Gracics… That’s my terrible pun. Looks like back to basics…
Sam Eggers 9:40
Oh, I was confused for a second. I was like, “Was her full name Gracics?”
Sara Gorsky 9:45
Thank you for telling us it was a joke. I was confused too, Chloe.
Chloe Sky 9:47
Yeah, no, it was it’s just a terrible joke.
Sara Gorsky 9:50
We’re – listeners. We’re working on our jokes, okay? We’re working on it.
Chloe Sky 9:53
Yeah, forgive me. So, Grace O’Malley or the Irish spelling is Gráinne Ní Mháille… It’s, there’s a lot of apostrophes. I don’t know but it’s anglicised to Grace O’Malley. And I think I’m gonna try to do my best to just say the anglicised versions of these names because they’re Irish is complicated and I can’t pronounce it. So she’s born in 1530 to incest. The the leader of the clan is named Owen O’Malley, and his wife is either Margaret or Mae O’Malley. They’re both O’Malley’s. And Owen is the chieftain that rules Clew Bay on the western side of the island, and they kind of control a big part of the western coast. Most of their wealth came from legitimate trade with France and Spain, or pirating British vessels.
Sara Gorsky 10:45
Pirates, they were a family of pirates.
Chloe Sky 10:47
They didn’t they didn’t like England for some reason. I can’t imagine why.
Sara Gorsky 10:50
But you said that they – you said it was incest. So they were brother and sister? Her parents?
Chloe Sky 10:54
I don’t know if they were brother and sister, but they were both of the O’Malley clan. They could have been cousins or – they just were from the same family. It was pretty common in their culture at the time. And in British culture. It’s pretty common. I’m not saying it’s okay. But in the context of history, it was common. She was she was educated. We don’t really know how well because we don’t know much about how Gaelic clans or Gaelic elite, specifically, were educated. But there are rumors that she spoke Latin, and she was a great leader. So she was very intelligent and well educated. She got the nickname, Grace – Gráinne Mhaol, which means “Bald Grace”. And there’s two stories about where the nickname comes from. The first one is that when she was a young girl she wanted to go on an expedition with her dad, but he said no, because her long hair would get caught in the ropes. To me that sounds like bullshit and he just didn’t want his daughter to come on a mission.
Sara Gorsky 11:57
Yeah, that’s such a bullshit answer.
Chloe Sky 11:59
So she responds by cutting all her hair off.
Sara Gorsky 12:02
Chloe Sky 12:02
And tries to embarrass her dad and was like “you have no excuse now”. And so he lets her come. The second version of the story is just that the name comes from Grace Uí Mháille, which is the name of the region that she was from. Uí Mháille, and the word for bald which is máille sound of so similar that Uí Mháille and máille just come combined over time and people called her Bald Grace because it sounded like it.
Sara Gorsky 12:35
So the theory wasn’t that she had thinning hair?
Chloe Sky 12:38
No, because every picture that I found of her she’s got like really long flowing hair in a ponytail or in like Pippi Longstocking braids, like
Sara Gorsky 12:47
Well, of course, because her captors painted the pictures, right?
Chloe Sky 12:51
Well, that’s probably true. So she could have she could have been bald or had close cropped hair, because that’s what the nickname means.
Sara Gorsky 12:58
Oh my god. Do you guys…this is like totally a side note but do you guys watch Norseman?
Sam Eggers 13:02
Chloe Sky 13:02
Sara Gorsky 13:03
There’s this whole like storyline in the new season that just dropped about this main character who starts going bald, and it’s just the funniest storyline ever. Anyway, I don’t want to distract it. Grace is way more interesting. But everyone should watch Norseman it’s pretty funny.
Chloe Sky 13:20
So, in 1546 when she’s either 15 or 16 years old, her dad marries her to Donal O’Flaherty. They have three children together and he’s set to become the leader of the O’Flahertys. He’s set to become their king. And Queen Elizabeth knows this and she doesn’t like him. She knows that he’s quick tempered and violent, and so she makes a deal and appoints his cousin the leader instead.
Sam Eggers 13:51
Chloe Sky 13:53
And he gets…Yeah, he gets pissed. And so he goes to war against this other family and he’s like, “If I just take over them that I’ll get to be king of a different clan and I’ll still get to be a king.” While he’s going to war with them they end up killing him.
Sara Gorsky 14:08
Chloe Sky 14:09
Yeah, so they kill him.
Sara Gorsky 14:11
This is not the one that she locked out of the castle? This is a different one?
Chloe Sky 14:14
No, no, this is this is her first husband. Okay, so the the Joyce’s who have killed him decide to head back to his castle, which is known as Cox castle, believing that since he’s dead, Grace is going to surrender the castle to them.
Sara Gorsky 14:29
Chloe Sky 14:31
She kicks their ass and sends them running home.
Sam Eggers 14:35
Chloe Sky 14:35
And because of how badass she is in this fight, they change the name of the castle from Cock’s Castle to Hen’s Castle, which it is still known as today.
Sara Gorsky 14:48
Chloe, did you say the Joyce’s?
Chloe Sky 14:50
Sara Gorsky 14:51
Are they related to James Joyce?
Chloe Sky 14:54
Possibly. I don’t know.
Sara Gorsky 14:55
Then I’m glad they lost. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is his like one of my least favorite books I’ve ever read.
Sam Eggers 15:03
I didn’t know you had this like secret hatred for James Joyce. I love it.
Chloe Sky 15:07
Yeah, it’s fascinating.
Sara Gorsky 15:09
I mean, it’s not secret, we just never talked about James Joyce today.
Chloe Sky 15:13
Right. So, since Gaelic law says that Grace can’t inherit his property, she can’t live in the castle. So even though she defended it, and it’s now named for her victory, she has to leave. She goes back to her home on Clare Island, where she takes a lover and I think this might be the part of the story that that musical’s based on.
Sam Eggers 15:34
Yeah, it sounds like it.
Sara Gorsky 15:36
Isn’t it just a boyfriend? Why is it – like, she’s single now, right?
Chloe Sky 15:41
Sara Gorsky 15:42
Can’t she sleep around?
Chloe Sky 15:42
I don’t know.
Sam Eggers 15:43
But lover sounds better than boyfriend.
Chloe Sky 15:47
Yeah, I think I think it wasn’t serious. I think it was like a fling. So she was like, “Oh, you know, I’m gonna fuck you for a while…” And she liked him, obviously…
Sara Gorsky 15:56
Usually, when they use – the history books use the term lover it’s because it’s like, clandestine, like, it’s like, like you’re married and you have like somebody on the side so it’s interesting that a widow woman, that’s interesting to me that they would call him a lover, I guess. Anyway, I still love it. I still support it.
Chloe Sky 16:14
She’s got this lover, or this boyfriend, whatever. And some of her enemies capture and kill him just to spite her.
Sara Gorsky 16:22
Whoa. Enemies from the last castle fight?
Chloe Sky 16:26
No different enemies. I thought it was the same enemies. But it turns out it was another group of enemies who
Sara Gorsky 16:31
How did she already have so many enemies? She wasn’t a pirate yet.
Chloe Sky 16:35
She kind of was like she’s from a pirate clan. Like the the only reason they’re classified as pirates is that you know, they’re disobeying English law.
Sam Eggers 16:46
Chloe Sky 16:47
But like their entire culture is based around sailing around pillaging. Usually…. They mostly only pillage like English settlements, but they also would…
Sara Gorsky 16:59
Pillage each other.
Chloe Sky 17:00
If a ship was was sailing by and they didn’t know them they would go board the ship and say, “Okay, if you go any further, we’ve got some people up there who are going to kill all of you, unless we’re with you. So we can ferry you up there but you have to pay us.” And so they – and so they’d go – just exploit any traveler who wanted to sail to the north side of Ireland, and take money and like so they just weren’t well liked.
Sam Eggers 17:28
Sara Gorsky 17:30
They were like the Greyjoys.
Chloe Sky 17:32
Basically, yeah. So these other enemies find out that her husband is killed and she’s left her castle and they’re like, “Oh, good, she’s weak”. And so they go kidnap and kill her boyfriend. So she is pissed off because now she’s had two of her lovers killed. One was a husband one was just a –
Sara Gorsky 17:50
Just a lover.
Chloe Sky 17:50
Right, just a lover. And so she ambushes and murders and kills all of them and steals their castle. Now she has another castle and…
Sam Eggers 18:00
Chloe Sky 18:02
This is this is called…
Sara Gorsky 18:04
I LOVE her!!
Chloe Sky 18:05
I knew you would love this star, Sara. As I’m doing the research, I’m just like, “if Sara doesn’t know this, she’s gonna lose it.”
Sara Gorsky 18:13
I love it. When can you write the full script so I can star in the feature?
Chloe Sky 18:19
So this is Doona Castle, and she goes down in history as the Dark Lady of Doona for showing up and just murdering everyone in the middle of the night.
Sam Eggers 18:27
Chloe Sky 18:28
it says that she would time her attacks to when she knew everyone was praying. So she would just show up and murder them during prayer time.
Sara Gorsky 18:37
Oh my god, she’s amazing.
Chloe Sky 18:39
She’s super smart and super dark.
Sara Gorsky 18:42
And she also is like, “Fuck the English and fuck English Christianity. Let’s fucking do this.
Sam Eggers 18:48
A quick side note, Sara, have you read the mists of Avalon?
Sara Gorsky 18:51
No. Should I?
Sam Eggers 18:53
Oh, you absolutely must read the mists of Avalon.
Sara Gorsky 18:58
Is it about pirates?
Sam Eggers 18:59
Well, no, but it’s about it’s the Arthurian legend, but told from the point of view of the women.
Sara Gorsky 19:04
Oh, I probably would love it.
Sam Eggers 19:05
It is like very, it’s like anti christian and very, like, the women are in charge. And it’s all about like, Arthur is not the hero of the story. And it’s it’s completely female-centric. It is so good as New York Times bestseller list in the 80s for like months. I just read it because it was like,
Sara Gorsky 19:25
Okay, I’ve gotta look this up.
Chloe Sky 19:26
What is this called? I’m gonna write this down.
Sam Eggers 19:28
The Mists of Avalon.
Chloe Sky 19:30
Okay, that sounds great.
Sam Eggers 19:32
Yeah, so take a peek. It’s really – it’s a – it’s really fun.
Sara Gorsky 19:37
I got to check it out. Thank you. I love stories that are like flipped around. I love that.
Sam Eggers 19:41
Sorry. Anyway, back to Grace.
Sara Gorsky 19:43
The Dark Lady of Doona. Let’s go.
Chloe Sky 19:45
So after she takes this castle is when she earns the nickname Pirate Queen. Because this is where she goes. Fuck it. I’m just going to take over as much as I can and be – I just have my own Empire.
Sam Eggers 19:59
Chloe Sky 20:00
If, if everyone’s going to be attacking me for every time I have any little bit of happiness, fuck everyone.
Sam Eggers 20:05
I like this.
Chloe Sky 20:07
So, there’s all kinds of like legends about her activities during this time, including coastal raids from Donegal to Waterford. And I didn’t know where those were because I don’t know my geography. So I looked it up and percentage-wise compared to like the east coast of America, obviously, Ireland is smaller, but in terms of the percentage of the coast that she covered, it was like Louisiana to Boston.
Sam Eggers 20:35
Sara Gorsky 20:36
Whoa, like she that’s a lot.
Chloe Sky 20:39
She just raided everywhere. It said that most of these raids had to have been done by like, really small boats. She had, at the end of her marriage she had three galleys and just a few smaller boats, which she said she was going to use to earn her maintenance of land and sea….
Sara Gorsky 20:57
That’s such a polite way to say it.
Chloe Sky 20:59
Right “maintenance” you say.
Sam Eggers 21:01
Sara Gorsky 21:01
Gonna be a pirate.
Chloe Sky 21:03
She’d bring the galleys up like close and then send in the small ships and they’d sail in, sneak in and just like, ransack someplace. There’s a story about how this house called the the House of Houth, and she kidnapped their son, and held him for ransom. And all she wanted in return for the ransom was for them to set an extra seat at dinner for her from now on. Just in case she showed up and want to eat, and so they were like, “Okay, yeah, of course, we’ll set a place at dinner, give us our son back.” And then for the rest of time, they set a place at dinner for her even if she didn’t show up.
Sam Eggers 21:43
Grace had very poor social skills.
Chloe Sky 21:46
Yeah. I don’t know how to get you to invite me to dinner, but I but I’d like to be friends.
Sara Gorsky 21:50
That’s like some weird, like prescient, like L. Ron Hubbard shit, “Set a place for me. You never know when I’ll appear.” Oh my God.
Chloe Sky 22:03
So during this time is when she marries her second husband, Richard an Iarainn. This is when the divorce story happens. This is when the baby’s born and they’re attacked by the Corsairs. When he dies in 1583, she ends up deciding to follow the British marriage law because they’ve been enforcing their laws everywhere and that says that she gets to keep 30% of his property as interest for him owning her property when the marriage happened.
Sam Eggers 22:32
Sara Gorsky 22:33
I love that she like follows the law that benefits her the most at the time.
Chloe Sky 22:36
Yesm, just whichever one’s better for her.
Sara Gorsky 22:38
Is the Gaelic or the English? Well the English has a better…
Chloe Sky 22:41
So she takes 30% of his cows and horses and retreats back to her home.
Sam Eggers 22:46
Sara Gorsky 22:47
Oh my god. That’s so funny.
Chloe Sky 22:49
So Grace and the British are at each other for a long time. British documents say that she was the cause of all rebellions for 40 years.
Sam Eggers 22:59
Chloe Sky 23:01
They’re like if there was a rebellion, you could guarantee Grace was behind.
Sara Gorsky 23:06
Man, English were pretty butt sore about her.
Chloe Sky 23:09
She, she caused them a lot of hurt, financially speaking.
Sam Eggers 23:15
Wow, 40 years.
Chloe Sky 23:17
So we cut to the 1580s and she’s in her late 60s.
Sara Gorsky 23:21
Which is old for the period.
Chloe Sky 23:23
Sara Gorsky 23:23
That’s pretty old, yeah.
Chloe Sky 23:24
Yes. She made it to her late 60s. And we enter the real villain of her life story. Who is Sir Richard Bingham. He’s this
Sara Gorsky 23:37
He sounds like such an asshole. *laughs*
Chloe Sky 23:39
Doesn’t he? Sir Richard Binghman is working for Queen Elizabeth. And he comes in and captures Grace’s first son, Owen, from her first marriage and executes him.
Sam Eggers 23:52
Chloe Sky 23:53
After after a long period of torture and like it’s clear that he was very cruel to him. But at the same time, Queen Elizabeth is afraid of the – of Spain because they just got attacked by the Spanish Armada and Elizabeth is afraid that Spain is going to sail around England and go up to Ireland and just get the Gaelic to help them fight England. And she’s like, “maybe we shouldn’t piss off the Gaelic clans right now, maybe we should sort of get them on our side. Because otherwise we’re gonna lose to Spain.”
Sara Gorsky 24:27
Chloe Sky 24:27
Sara Gorsky 24:28
She’s not wrong.
Chloe Sky 24:30
Right. So Elizabeth says, “Okay, Bingham, you got to stop doing this. We have to make peace with these rebels.” And Bingham gets furious. And he’s like, “I’m not going to obey you Queen.” And he orders his men to hunt down and kill everyone related to Grace in any way.
Sara Gorsky 24:50
Dudes being dudes. Throughout history – dudes being dudes.
Chloe Sky 24:55
So because, you know he’s going hard after her she goes equally hard back and just starts annihilating the British fleet. Yes. And for the next three or four years, they’re at, like, open war with her. And finally, in 1590, Elizabeth summons Bingham back and puts him on trial as and is going to convict him of, you know, war crimes or disobeying the Queen. He’s ended up acquitted of all charges. The whole thing was just an attempt to like try to give him a little time to cool off, but it actually just makes him more pissed. And he decides, rather than try to knock out all of the of the clans of Gaelic rebels, he just hates Grace. He hates her so much and he’s gonna…
Sam Eggers 25:44
Why? Like, he has this weird personal beef with her.
Chloe Sky 25:47
I think it’s because she was a woman.
Sara Gorsky 25:49
Yeah, and she beat his ass so bad. He couldn’t take it
Chloe Sky 25:53
To the point that he got put on trial with his own Queen. Like, I feel like his feelings are very hurt.
Sara Gorsky 26:02
But because she was like, so good at the geurilla warfare… I’m sure he was fucking pissed because her and her people were like, so good at geurilla… I’m sure he lost so many men to her and, like, it just made her madder and madder.
Chloe Sky 26:13
Oh, yeah. So one time while she’s out at sea, he goes to to her home, burns it down and also manages to get her second son from the same first marriage to side with him instead.
Sam Eggers 26:27
Chloe Sky 26:28
I assume he’s like, threatening him. He saying, “I’ll kill you like I killed your brother.” And so he…
Sam Eggers 26:34
Oh, and he agreed.
Chloe Sky 26:36
There’s stories about how he never really got along with Grace in the first place. Like, he kind of took more after his father who was like, the angry – quick to fight like wanted to go take over clans and Grace was a little bit more diplomatic and so they never really got along and so when Bingham shows up, he’s like, yeah, “I’ll side with you.”
Sara Gorsky 26:57
Chloe Sky 26:57
So Grace goes to her kid’s place and burns all of his property down and vows never to speak to him again.
Sara Gorsky 27:06
You crossed the wrong, Mama.
Sam Eggers 27:07
Chloe Sky 27:08
Yep. And she never speaks to him again. As long as a little as long as she lives.
Sara Gorsky 27:12
What a little idiot.
Chloe Sky 27:12
Sara Gorsky 27:14
Way to underestimate the loins that brought you forth into this world.
Sam Eggers 27:18
Chloe Sky 27:18
Right? So in 1592, Grace is 62 at this point, her third son from the second marriage, his name is Tibbet Na Long, which means Toby of the – I didn’t write down but Toby of something, Toby of the Docks or something… So he decides he’s gonna do right by his mom and attack Bingham. So he puts together an army and he attacks her. And while he is attacking, Bingham, goes around back and attacks Grace. And he impounds her entire fleet, burns all of her land, no blocks the harbor, so she can’t enter…
Sara Gorsky 27:58
Chloe Sky 27:59
And also ends up taking her son as a hostage.
Sara Gorsky 28:02
Oh, I really want her to win this story.
Chloe Sky 28:07
Well, it’s not over yet. He decides to put her son on trial for high treason. And Grace decides that her only option is to go meet directly with Queen Elizabeth.
Sara Gorsky 28:19
Sam Eggers 28:20
Oh, like this twist.
Chloe Sky 28:23
She sets sail for England. And she sends a letter ahead of her to let her know like, “Hey, I’m coming. And I want you to know that I’m coming to apologize and swear fealty to you.”
Sam Eggers 28:36
Sara Gorsky 28:37
Chloe Sky 28:38
So she goes and she meets with the Queen. And since she doesn’t speak English, and Elizabeth doesn’t speak Irish, the meeting is carried out in Latin. Grace gives this long speech where she pleads old age and poverty and says “I swear that for the rest of my time, I will help you wipe out your enemies.”
Sam Eggers 28:56
Chloe Sky 28:57
And she gives this explanation and says, look, the reason that I’ve been attacking you and your fleet my whole life is because I just grew up in a really violent time. Like the the other clans, like, you had to be strong if you wanted to survive and so being strong meant that I had to be violent. And in order to earn their respect, I had to attack you. And I didn’t want to but I just I had to and I’m really sorry.
Sara Gorsky 29:24
Oh my god. Oh my god, I love it.
Chloe Sky 29:26
So if you wouldn’t be so kind as to give me a small amount of money every year for the rest of my life to live on I will be your faithful soldier. Also, I’d like Bingham to give me back all of the property that he seiged.
Sam Eggers 29:40
Chloe Sky 29:42
And the Queen agrees.
Sam Eggers 29:43
Sara Gorsky 29:44
Yes!!! Because she hates Bingham too, because Bingham’s been like a fucking thorn in her side.
Chloe Sky 29:50
Sam Eggers 29:50
Yea, completely disobeying her? Come on!
Chloe Sky 29:53
Exactly. Unfortunately. Bingham who’s been ordered to now defend Grace…
Sara Gorsky 30:02
I wish I could see the look on his face when he got that news.
Chloe Sky 30:06
Yes. He decides to disobey orders again.
Sara Gorsky 30:11
Chloe Sky 30:12
And he decides to attack Grace. Grace runs back into hiding again and sends another letter to Queen Elizabeth saying, “Hey, your dude, he didn’t held up his end of the bargain.” So Elizabeth summons bring him back to England. And he he’s thrown in prison for the for the rest of his life.
Sam Eggers 30:29
Sara Gorsky 30:29
Fuck that dude.
Chloe Sky 30:30
However, before he goes back to England, he appoints his own successor, and lets him know, “We have to take out this Grace lady.” So the next person in charge also decides to follow in his footsteps. And keeps attacking Grace. So Grace decides since nobody’s really holding up their end of the bargain she’s just gonna keep plundering
Sam Eggers 30:51
Chloe Sky 30:51
And there are reports as as late as the year 1601, when she was 71 years old, with her at the front of a ship leading a raiding party on another ship.
Sam Eggers 31:05
Sara Gorsky 31:05
71 years old. Oh, my God, I love it.
Chloe Sky 31:09
She ends up dying in 1603 at age 73, the same year Queen Elizabeth dies.
Sam Eggers 31:15
Oh, that’s awesome.
Sara Gorsky 31:16
Wow. They were like foils for each other. I love it.
Chloe Sky 31:21
Yeah. And I just thought this whole story was so fascinating and illuminated a really long period of English history that I didn’t really know about. But then a few years after Grace dies, the Annals of the Four Masters is written, which is a full documentation of the last like few hundred years of Irish history. But it’s created by Irish Catholic historians. It’s not created by Gaelic historians. And sure,
Sara Gorsky 31:49
So it’s all Dublin.
Chloe Sky 31:51
Right? And they, they completely leave grace out. She’s not mentioned a single time in the entire book.
Sam Eggers 31:57
Oh, my God.
Sara Gorsky 31:58
Chloe Sky 31:58
And so, you know, historians have said that the only explanation for her omission is that this book was put together by Catholic men. And the the fact that she was a female powerful leader really made them uncomfortable. So they just pushed it all to the side.
Sam Eggers 32:14
Wow. And so is this even covered at all today? Like, in your like – Irish schoolchildren? are they learning about Grace O’Malley at all? I think
Chloe Sky 32:21
I think they are because there’s been more of a push in recent years – there was a historian who in 2003, decided to write like the official biography of her, and unfortunately, had to get all of her documentation and resources from British historical documents, because those are the only documents in history that mentioned her. But, but there are like – because she was attacking England for 40 years there’s over 40 years of documents that reference her.
Sam Eggers 32:52
Sara Gorsky 32:52
Yeah. Because there’s an Gaelic tradition primarily aural? Like, I don’t think they wrote a lot down I think it was, a lot of it was like verbal storytelling. So they didn’t have like books and books and books, stowed away places, if I remember correctly, of like the vague things I know of Gaelic history.
Chloe Sky 33:09
Sara Gorsky 33:10
But because of the language translation, or the translation error from Irish to English, her she’s called so many different names throughout the documents. She’s called Granny O’Malley, or Grainy Nose, Molly, like, like they just completely throw it all the different directions you could possibly incorrectly set her name. And so it was like a huge challenge for this historian to like, figure out like, “Oh, these are all referring to the same pirate queen.”
Sam Eggers 33:43
Sara Gorsky 33:44
She’s a bad ass Chloe, I love her.
Sam Eggers 33:46
I love her.
Chloe Sky 33:48
Yeah, so I was very pleased with with this story and blown away by how much I didn’t know. And I don’t even think I have to ask because I’m pretty sure we all agree she’s a broad?
Sam Eggers 33:59
Oh, my God. Hell yeah. Clearly a BROAD. Well, we need a mini series about her yesterday.
Sara Gorsky 34:05
Yeah, no kidding! I also want to see like the play that’s like all this one act with that meeting between her and Elizabeth.
Sam Eggers 34:14
Sara Gorsky 34:15
With just the two of them just talking. Oh my god, I want it to happen.
Sam Eggers 34:21
Chloe Sky 34:22
Me, too. So So yeah, so that’s great. So Molly, the Irish pirate queen who defied the British Empire for 40 + years.
Sara Gorsky 34:32
And who locked her husband out of the castle.
Chloe Sky 34:58