The maritime exploits of the O'Malleys and O'Flahertys have become the stuff of legend. There most famous member was Grace O'Malley (1530-1600), Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a pirate in 16th century Ireland. She is commonly known by her nickname Granuaile or Gráinne Mhaol ('Bald Gráinne' a reference to her close-cropped hair as a young woman).
The pirate queen is associated with the west of Ireland, particularly with the western coastline around Clew Bay. She lived in the turbulent times which saw the death throes of Gaelic Ireland and witnessed Elizabeth I of England's plantation policy take permanent effect on the country's laws and customs. She battled against the English and ruled the Baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk around Clew Bay in County Mayo. Her exploits at sea are legendary and are recounted in Elizabethan state papers.
The Granuaile Visitor Centre tells her story. Please telephone in advance to make sure centre is open on the day you would like to call.