Sunday, May 27, 2007

Grace-full missives

Sixeenth century pirate Grace O'Malley is riding a new wave of popularity.
Blog reader Eugene J. Flynn asks whether the inspiration for this IntLawGrrl namesake was the song "Grace O'Malley" by Cathie Ryan and John Doyle, featured on Ryan's "Somewhere Along the Road" album? No, haven't heard Ryan's song, but will it track it down.
As explained in an intro post, Emily Arnold McCully's children's book The Pirate Queen was the chief inspiration for choosing this "early, powerful nonstate actor." Another was a spectacular 2002 performance of "Grainne Mhaol" (a Gaelic version of Grace's name) by the spectacular Galway-based theatre troupe Macnas.
Now Grace is back on stage, this time in a Broadway musical called, of course, "The Pirate Queen," mounted by the creators of "Les Misérables" and "Miss Saigon." Barbara Sjoholm, author of a travelogue entitled The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea, writes that the production is rich in Riverdancing and invented romance -- "and how cool is it to see a woman on stage with a saber in one hand and a baby in the other?"
Thanks to my colleague Jack Ayer, the brains behind Underbelly blog, for the head's up on the new play. Indeed, Jack points to further proof of Grace's 21st C. revival: her own MySpace page.


Fiona de Londras said...

You might be interested in the fairly well-known Irish song about Grace O'Malley too called "Óró sé do bheatha 'bhaile" (trans. 'rejoice to those coming home'). The song celebrates the great warrior-attributes of O'Malley, who is a metaphor for Ireland generally. The lyrics are available online ( and I'm sure the song itself can probably be bought from iTunes or some where similar.

Interestingly, at the time of O'Malley the dominant legal system was the Brehon law (Ireland's indigenous legal system), the records of which tend to throw some doubt on the possibility that O'Malley would have been as revered a public figure as her reconstruction sometimes suggests (

Diane Marie Amann said...

Many thanks for these links, Fiona. They add a twist on the Brehon laws that's new to me.