Mayo swashbuckling exploits

Tall Ship from luxury hotels irelandCome away with us to sixteenth century Mayo when Ireland’s own Queen, Grace O’Malley, heroine, pirate and all round chick with attitude rivalled the red-headed monarch of England,  none other than Queen Elizabeth the First.


Grace was Daddy’s girl, himself head of the O’Malley Clan, a chieftain who controlled the south west of County Mayo and its coast from their castle on Clare Island. Renowned swashbuckling seafarers who like all happy bands of pirates controlled the sea routes along the coast, the O’Malleys charged fishermen and traders for the privileges making money on O’Malley turf (and water). Taxes could be paid in money, whiskey, cargo of any kind, a tradition way before Nama.


Married for the first time at the ripe old age of sixteen to the head of the O’Flaherty Clan, with whom she had three children, alas hubbie number one was killed in battle, Undaunted (from a girl who once cut her hair short enough to overcome her father’s objections to her sailing in case her hair caught in the ropes), Grace made a match with Iron Richard, well endowed in the property stakes and open to a trial one year marriage under Brehon law after which Grace handed Richard back but kept his castle. Nice.


In later years, Grace would defend and take another castle of Richard’s after his death from the hands of his enemies, with a loyal band of supporters attracted by the legendary pirate Queen who successfully fended of the forces of the English crown time and again on land and at sea, hiring Scottish mercenaries along the way to bolster the front ranks.


A feisty soul about whom many stories are told including her reaction to having the gates of Howth Castle closed against her while its residents were having tea and neglected to lay out the cead mile failte  Grace mat. In a move any decent pirate would empathise with, Grace kidnapped the grandson of the castle owners and only returned him on the promise that the gates would never again be closed to passing visitors, a tradition that remains to this day. Thankfully, the kidnapping has stopped.


Following the capture of her sons and half brother, Grace headed to London to meet the Queen, to whom no curtsey was offered with Grace even concealing a dagger in her skirts for safety. Detected by Royal security, Grace relented and had a lengthy chin wag with Elizabeth resulting in some temporary concessions on both sides, though both gals later returned to their plundering and conquering habits before too long. Grace merrily pirated away until her death at the ripe old age of seventy three around the same time as her old sparring partner, Elizabeth.


Today, you can enjoy the same spectacular views of the Mayo coast and its many castles from any of our fine hotels including Ashford Castle, Lisloughrey Lodge, The Ice House and Delphi. A little more upmarket that the seafaring bunks used by Mz O’Malley though all with welcome mats at the door and minimal royal security for browsers of 5 star luxury hotels Ireland.

Ashford Castle Delphi Lodge Ice House Lisloughrey Lodge The Lodge Ashford
Aghadoe Heights Hotel on Luxury Hotels Ireland tourist attractions destinations delphi on Luxury Hotels Ireland tourist attractions destinations IceHouse hotel on luxury hotls ireland lisloughrey-lodge on luxury hotels ireland