In Malachy McCourt’s A History of Ireland,
a book told in fifty-odd biographies
of great Irish personalities,
Granuaile, a sixteenth-century intellectual, pirate, and chieftain-queen
on par with her redheaded rival, Elizabeth Tudor,
Granuaile, Anglicized as Grace O’Malley,
was the daughter of the chief of the Ó Máille clan.
She spoke Gaelic, English and Latin,
was a trickster with brilliance rivaling Odysseus,
a master negotiating machine,
and once sailed to England to debate with E.T.
(The extra-terrestrial Tudor)
The Tudors, along with many of
wanted to claim the wild beauty of Ireland
and its people,
as their own.
Elizabeth the First did not know Gaelic,
and though Granuaile
took the time and effort to
the two influential redheads
conversed in a dead language,
very much alive in the
Early Modern Age.
Sadly, Granuaile’s life
is overshadowed by that of
E.T., namely because
England went on to dominate Ireland until the twentieth century.
Protestantism came to dominate the British Isles,
but the Irish people persevered,
and still are unrivaled
in their music, poetry, folklore,
tales of greats like Granuaile,
spirits, spirituality, and beauty.
(I am not biased!)
Happy Saint Pat’s Day.