Grace O'Malley (born around 1530, died around 1603) was one of the most important women in Irish history, a Queen of Umaill (territory in the Ireland), chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a pirate. Known under several pseudonyms (GráinneNíMháille, Granuaile, GráinneMhao, and many other), she today represents important figure in an Irish folklore and history, which is best represented by her title "The Sea Queen OfConnaugh". She spent her lifetime ruling the lands of West Ireland, fighting for their independence against the English.
GráinneNíMháille was born in Ireland around 1530, in a time when Henry VIII was king of England, and Irish lords were mostly independent. Born as a daughter of the chieftain of the Ó Máille clan, she soon became fond of the seas. After many disagreements with her family she finally cut her hair and secretly boarded father's ship. After discovering her, her entire family laughed and accepted her wishes. Although she spent much time on a ship, she received formal education and knowledge of foreign languages (such as Latin).
In 1546 she became married to DónalanChogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, another Irish lord with whom she had three children. After he died in battle, Grace defeated his killers and returned to her castle as a defacto ruler of majority of West Ireland. In 1566 she married for second time, this time to lord Risdeárd an Iarainn Bourke who controlled majority of iron trade in the Ireland. Exactly one year later, Grace divorced him and kept all his wealth for himself, greatly increasing her influence.
During her lifetime Grace fought countless battles on the sea and land. She expanded her influence, until she became well known even in England. During 1596 her two sons became captive of Queen Elizabeth I. The two queens met in Greenwich Palace to discuss terms of their release, where Grace famously refused to bow down to Elizabeth. Grace continued with her exploits on the land and see, further more expanding her influence and fame across the Europe. She died sometimes around 1603 in Rockfleet Castle, in the same year as Elizabeth I.
Life and career of Grace O'Malley had a great cultural impact on the Ireland and England. Her life was scrutinized by countless modern historians, she was the centerpiece of many music pieces, stage plays, movies and other media.