Addicted to novelty since 2001

Gráinne Ní Mháille, Pirate Queen of Connaught

In English, that’s Grace O’Malley. She was apparently a heck of a sailor, among other things:

This wonderful, yet ardous life on the sea, gave her great physical strength and vigor. Sydney, the Lord Deputy, who met her in 1576, described Gráinne when she must have been in middle age, as being “… famous for her stoutness of courage, and person and for sundry other exploits done by her at sea.” Whatever formal literary education Gráinne received in her youth, must have been from the Carmalite Friars on Clare Island. Although she was later married to two of the greatest chieftans in the West, it’s very likely that Gráinne knew and cared far more about rigging and sailing a galley and warfare than she ever did about drawing-room accomplishments.

I never heard this story while in Ireland–I saw some of a documentary on her yesterday. Apparently the patriarchal historians didn’t think she was an appropriate female figure in Irish history. Of course, I never asked anybody: “Hey, do you have any famous female pirates?”

Incidentally, Gráinne is pronounced GRAW-nya. It is one of many Irish names that take some getting used to. Other favourites for women include:

  • Aoife
  • Áine
  • Niamh
  • Sorcha
  • Derbáil

If I’ve got the right name, I believe that last one is pronounced Dervil. With apologies to all those sweet colleens so named, it’s not the most poetic of first names.

5 Responses to “Gráinne Ní Mháille, Pirate Queen of Connaught”

  1. Heather

    Any idea how to pronounce “muirnait”? I read it in a book and liked it, but have never heard it out loud so don’t know how it sounds.

  2. Jacquotte Delahhaye

    i saw the name and i think it looks cool but i have know idea how to say it or what it means

    Aaron de la Haye Reply:

    The christian name is pronounced ‘ jak cot’ pronounciing the ‘j’ as ‘zh’ as in the French ‘Jacques’. de la Haye is an old French-Norman name meaning ‘ of the hedgerow’

    Joyce Reply:

    Thank you so much! I really needed to know what the name was pronounced like thank you thank you I didn’t think a simple google search would get me to someone who had the answer so well xD

  3. mary

    do you know how to pronounce Jacquotte Delahaye i saw it and i like it but i have know idea how to say it

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