Grace O’Malley: Irish Mists

by | 0 comments

Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland, who knew the coastal waters so well she could disappear at will, into the mists.

Daughter of a County Mayo Chieftain and Sea Captain, she was discouraged from going to sea, so she cut her hair and dressed as a boy. 

Legend says she saved her Father from an English intruder by leaping onto his back. 

Married at 16 to the son of another Irish Chieftain, she took control of his fleet with considerable skill. 

Donal-an-Chogaidh O’Flaherty was always feuding to expand his territory and was killed in 1560, leaving Grace with 3 kids. 

⚓️ Grace took to pirating, commanding anywhere from 5 to 20 vessels and employing up to 200 men. 

She married her second husband Richard Bourke in 1567 for political gain. It lasted only a year, although they remained married until Bourke died 17 years later.  He was knighted in 1581 and she took the title Lady Bourke. 

She and Bourke had one child, a son born on one of her galleys. 

Legend says the ship was attacked just after his birth, and she rose from the labor bed to fend off the attack successfully. 

Grace was arrested for plundering the Irish Kingdom of Desmond in 1577, and served two years.  She was released in the hope she could tame her rebel husband – a false hope. 

After Bourke’s death from natural causes in1583, Grace settled at Rockfleet with 1000 cows and mares and uncounted followers. 

The English Governor still saw her as trouble, and his brother killed her eldest son, which cemented her position as a rebel to the English crown

She was arrested a second time, and got the death penalty, but her son in law volunteered to act as a hostage to guarantee her good behaviour. 

Grace continued to fight for her rights against both England and Spain, joining with one or the other for her own benefit, recorded as leading men until at least 1601. 

🕊 Grace died in 1603, a proud and brave adventurer who defended her family to the end, in spite of the spra of English rule throughout her life.

Source: Bad Girls From History by Dee Gordon 9781473862821


Biography notes:

📍1530 – 6/18/1603 Ireland

  • Grace was captured twice, negotiated her own release twice, married twice and divorced once.
  • She had at least two sons, having given birth to the youngest on board her ship.
  • She famously stormed the castle of another son when he aligned with her enemies.
  • The youngest, captured by the British, caused her to travel to London to meet with Queen Elizabeth I. She refused to bow to the virgin queen, as Grace did not see her as the Queen of Ireland.
  • Grace still managed to negotiate her son’s release, payment from the Queen for lands stolen from her, and the return of the lands. She got the money and her son, and was able to leave London with her head still firmly attached to her neck.


She has a dozen names … in Irish Folklore she is Gráinne Mhaol, but she was a real person.
Granuille, Gráinne O’Maly, Graney O’Mally, Granny ni Maille, Grany O’Mally, Grayn Ny Mayle, Grane ne Male, Grainy O’Maly, and Granee O’Maillie. All are versions of her actual name, Gráinne Ní Mháille.


🍵 Tea inspired by this remarkable woman:

Irish Breakfast Tea – Irish Mists (a breakfast tea)

Written by



Rhonni has been a restaurateur and serial entrepreneur within the Renaissance Festival industry for over 3 decades. She loves tea. She created Tea & Strumpets at the intersections of Cosplay, Flavor, and Herstories.

Dig in for more tea!

recipes, tips, stories and a look behind the scenes

Tea Recipes
Tea Culture
Brewing Tips & Tricks
Origin Stories

or read more about our own teas:

the remarkable women that inspired our teas

Women who inspired our Black Teas

Women who inspired our Herbal Teas

Women who inspired our Green Teas

Women who inspired our White Teas

Upcoming Teas:

Join us in the discussion as we develop new flavors based on more remarkable women


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Who are we?

Tea & Strumpets

Premium Teas and Tea Experiences, inspired by outrageous women.

The flavors of our looseleaf tea blends are each inspired by a not-very-famous woman changemaker from history. These women are not-very-famous because we are normally taught HIStory … and we at Tea & Strumpets are more interested in HERstory.


Shop by tea type

Shop Our Full Tea Collection