In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea
by Barbara Sjoholm
The Pirate Queen begins in Ireland with the infamous Grace O’Malley, a ruthless pirate and scourge to the most powerful fleets of sixteenth-century Europe. This Irish clan chieftain, sea captain, and pirate queen was a contemporary of Elizabeth I, a figure whose life is the stuff of myth. Regularly raiding English ships caught off Ireland’s west coast, O’Malley was purported to have fought the Spanish armada just hours after giving birth to her son. She had several husbands in her lifetime, and acquired lands and castles that still dot the Irish coastline today.
But Grace O’Malley was not alone. Since ancient times, women have rowed and sailed, commanded and fished, built boats and owned fleets. As pirate, captain’s wives, lighthouse keepers and sailors in disguise they’ve explored coastlines and set off alone across unknown seas. Yet their incredible contributions have been nearly erased from the history books. In The Pirate Queen, Barbara Sjoholm brings some of these extraordinary women back to life, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey from the wild Irish coast to the haunting Scandinavian fjords in this meticulously researched, colorfully written, and truly original work