Grainne O’Malley (C1600)

Daughter of a Connacht Chieftain. Grainne provided the strongest opposition to foreign rule in the west of Ireland during the 16th century. When Queen Elizabeth I launched a campaign in 1568 to finally subdue the rebellious west most of the ruling class including Grainne’s husband submitted but Grainne had other ideas. Traditionally the O’Malley clan were sea-farers and Grainne ruled much of the area around the Connacht coast. In 1579 a special body of English troops was sent to Galway to beseige her castle near Newport in County Mayo. Grainne proved too much for them however and they had to retreat. She harassed the foreigh government all her life. After being taken prisoner several times and almost hanged in 1586 she gained the protection of the O’Neills of Ulster when many of her ships were destroyed.