(The meeting of Grace O'Malley and Queen Elizabeth I)

Grace O'Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603) was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a pirate in 16th century Ireland. She is commonly known by her nickname Granuaile in Irish folklore, and a historical figure in 16th century Irish history, and is sometimes known as "The Sea Queen of Connaught". Biographies of her have been written primarily in the 20th and 21st centuries by the historian Anne Chambers.

Grace O'Malley was born in Ireland around 1530, when Henry VIII was King of England and (at least in name) Lord of Ireland. Under the policies of the English government at the time, the semi-autonomous Irish princes and lords were left mostly to their own devices. However this was to change over the course of her life as the Tudor conquest of Ireland gathered pace.

Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille was Gráinne's father, and his family was based in Clew Bay, County Mayo. He was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a direct descendant of its eponym, Maille mac Conall. The O'Malleys were one of the few seafaring families on the west coast, and they built a row of castles facing the sea to keep an eye on their territory. They controlled most of what is now the barony of Murrisk in South-West County Mayo and recognized as their nominal overlords Mac William Íochtar Bourkes, who controlled much of what is now County Mayo (the Bourkes were originally Anglo-Irish but by her lifetime completely gaelicised).

Her mother, Margaret or Maeve, was also a Ní Mháille. Although she was the only child of Dubhdara and his wife, Gráinne Ní Mháille had a half-brother, called Dónal na Piopa (Donal of the Pipes), who was the son of her father.

The O'Malleys taxed all those who fished off their coasts, which included fishermen from as far away as England. Their leader bore the ancient Irish title of "An Ó Máille" ("The O'Malley", or "The O'Mealey" - as the name is also anglicised).

According to Irish legend, as a young girl Ní Mháille wished to go on a trading expedition to Spain with her father, and on being told she could not because her long hair would catch in the ship's ropes, she cut off most of her hair to embarrass her father into taking her, thus earning her the nickname "Gráinne Mhaol" (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɡrɑːnʲə veːl]; from maol bald or having cropped hair). The name stuck, and was usually anglicised as Granuaile.

As a child she most likely lived at her family's residence of Belclare and Clare Island, but she may have been fostered to another family since fosterage was traditional among Irish nobility at the time.

Ní Mháille was probably formally educated, since she is believed to have spoken in Latin with Queen Elizabeth I at their historic meeting in 1593. Because of her extensive travels and trade, she may have spoken some English, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic, and French as well.

more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%A1inne_N%C3%AD_Mh%C3%A1ille
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