Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mayo. Westport. Sea-Warrior Grania Uaile, Grace O'Malley. Queen of Clew

Queen of Clew
Grace O'Malley
Grania Uaile
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The cyberflaneur: does not know what might be cared about, until something is found to care about. The Cyberflaneur is not dead. See Death of the Cyberflaneur, by Evgeny Morozov, NYT
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 I found the name, Grane O'Maille, in an old library book, where an shaky-looking old hand had written on a paper scrap: "Grane O'Maille of the Uisles, Grainne O'Malley, Grannails, Howth Harbor, p.207, research of rielory". That requires a look-up: the Goddess of the Scraps demands it.  Find that on January 7, 1906, one John Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, a diocese in western Ireland,,  offered a lecture at Westport's Town Hall, on Grania Uaile.
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Who? A quick lookup discloses a Grania Uaile, 16th Century Irish female chieftain, sea warrior, western Ireland. We are not alone in our interest:  see http://www.graceomalley.com/ 
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Back to the lecturer.  What else did Healy do?  He was a man of many parts. See the various topics of his lectures and essays at http://www.libraryireland.com/HealyEssays/Contents.php
  • Healy gave learned discourses on Tara, Irish graves found in Rome, holy wells, round towers, St. Patrick, and Abbeys on the lakes in the West. And the Four Masters, especially one Brother Michael: see Donegal's Kilbarron Castle, the O'Clery's. In 1632, they set to record the Annals of Erin, religious and secular, at great risk; and in 1636, setting out to get review and approvals as authenticity. Another tale.
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For here, Grania Uaile.

Time.  It is 1593 or so. 

Research issues: How to capture a name of a prominent person in the old Gaelic.  Grania Uaile.  Grainne ni Mhaille. Grace O'Malley. Which echoes the story best -- Grania. O'Malley smacks of the modern, the patriarchal, the "of Malley."  That does not fit the tale of the woman, the heroine of Clew Bay near Westport. See this warrior Queen of Clew at
http://www.libraryireland.com/HealyEssays/Grania1.php
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Compare her to the better-known Queen Maeve, of the early Christian times. War, diplomacy, love, and ruling their husbands. Is this like Queen Elizabeth I, in role:  perhaps,  And it appears that they did meet. See below.
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Why is she missing from the chronicles, including at Clonmacnois.

Is this the answer:  that Christians and others would not recognize a female chieftain. 
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The authentic record is from the Privy Council in England, where letters record specific answers to questions put to her (this from the libraryireland site).  She lists her geneology, not descended from Brian Boru, but from his brother, Orbsen, "tributary kings to the provincial kings of Connaught."  In the1200's, the Butlers and Burkes drove most of them out, leaving far reduced territories in their control. She had been fostered as a child at Clare Island.
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Curriculum vitae. She could sail a galley and rule a crew, see site. She was a warrior queen who then married, as under Brehon law she herself could not be "captain of the nation", but the people remained loyal to her.  The first husband, Donnall, was chieftain of the barony of Ballynahinch, a county subdivision, see http://www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/land/barony.htm.
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As an adult, one of her sons, Owen, was murdered -- vilely, by a Bingham (English) -- and after Donnall's death, returned to Clare with her children, as her bastion, her stronghold. She started to assert control of surrounding areas and castles. She had three galleys that held 60-70 men each, plus 20-30 oarsmen.  Some fighting men by then, clearly a Sea-Captain,  a pirate.
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She married Richard Burke, Richard an Iarainn, Richard in Iron (for the chain mail) but because or her roles and position, was both master and mistress, says the site. She raided as she would, from any who passed near.
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Ultimately she was captured and imprisoned, for 18 months, but was released in order (thought the English) to rule the unruly in the West. A balance was struck then in the west, of sorts, with Grania back ruling the sea, and the land-folk ruling the land.
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Carrigahowley Castle was her last stand when the English came back at her. Although avoiding a battle, she did pay a tribute to them -- she was also politic. Iron Richard died -- and again Brehon law governed her.  Widows only received a return of their dowers, not their husband's "lands."  She set up her "trade" again, now with more sons (Owen was one murdered). 
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And again she was captured; and managed a release.  But by that time, her wealth in cattle was decimated, she was much older, and finally lived a poor life; but before Queen Elizabeth died, she asked favors, too late. Did she visit Queen Elizabeth in Hampton Court? She did, in 1593, see site, and probably received some of her requests for reinstatement to lands.
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Other questions:  Did Grania have a role in the slaughter of Spanish from the wrecks of the Armada on the Western coast of Ireland, castaways at Clew Bay? Probably not, but others did dastardly deeds.  See site. The heir to St. Laurence of Howth:  was it Grania who carried him off? Yes, by tradition, but what "proof" other than tradition could there be.  But the point was that Howth was being inhospitable to the passer-by, who by custom was to be fed and welcomed; and the condition of return was that he keep his dining doors open, and set a place for the wayfarer.  And Howth has done so since. Even if the abducted individual was another, the focal point remains.  Hospitality, sirs; hospitality.

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