Na Maira Ceilti
A Tale of Grace O'Malley
and the Irish Seas
During the Elizabethan era, the British expanded their empire by invading and conquering Ireland. Many attempts at conquest were fended off by Irish clan leaders, including the O'Malleys, O'Flahertys, and Burkes.
The O'Malley clan, led by seafaring merchant and trader
Dubdara O'Malley, protected the lands in Northwest Ireland
with a stronghold at Clew Bay.
Dubdara raised his daughter, Grace, to be a trader, map maker
and sea captain. As an adult, she took part in commanding his fleet,
and eventually inherited it, sailing regularly to trade in Portugal,
the Mediterranean, and even along the Barbary Coast of Africa .
Grace was fluent in many languages, and her knowledge of geography and skill in navigation won her the utmost respect of her crew.
When the British persisted in their efforts to subdue the Irish of the western coast, Grace and her alliance of clans took up piracy against British ships, using plundered trade goods to fund the fight against the British themselves. She became a legendin her own time, commanding her fleet and encouraging Irish resistance well into her 7th decade of life.
This webpage was designed to accompany the upcoming documentary film inspired by tales of Grace's life on the Irish seas!
Stay tuned for its premier courtesy of the
"Through the Lens" Documentary series on Lakeland PBS
and check back here for activities and resources to accompany it!