Granuaile

heroines

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,

stuck out.

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)

Why?

The Tudors, along with many of

their contemporaries,

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

learn English,

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.

x. Carey

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