Grace O’Malley is unique as the only woman recorded on the famous Baptista Boazio map of Ireland (1599), a tribute to the status she achieved as a leader on land and at sea in the 16th century. In 1979 Anne Chambers’ original biography of this famous Irishwoman, who over the centuries had been airbrushed from historical record, put her on the map once again. The biography became a milestone in Irish publishing and the catalyst for the restoration of Grace O’Malley to political, social and maritime history, as well as establishing her as an inspirational female role model in the classroom.
In the 40th anniversary edition of this international bestselling biography, drawn from rare contemporary manuscript records, the author presents Ireland’s great pirate queen not as a vague mythological figure but as one of the world’s most extraordinary female leaders. Political pragmatist and tactician, rebel, intrepid mariner and pirate, wife, lover, mother, grandmother and matriarch, the ‘most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’, Grace O’Malley challenged and triumphed over the social and political barriers she encountered in the course of her long, pioneering life.
Breaching boundaries of gender imbalance and bias in a period of immense social and political upheaval and change, Grace O’Malley rewrote the rules to become one of the world’s first recorded feminist trailblazers.
This updated anniversary edition brings Grace O’Malley’s story to a new generation awakened to the global focus on gender equality as well as positive ageing.
Praise for Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers
‘A superbly researched work … it salvages the 16th-century Mistress of the Western Waves from the rather frivolous folklore which surrounds her.’ Irish Times
‘While Granuaile is a well-established legendary figure it was left to Ms Chambers to present us with a historical reality which is equally if not more compelling than the legend.’ Sunday Tribun
‘Chambers has founded an international interest in a woman who was centuries ahead of her time … a woman once air-brushed out of history but now reborn largely because of Anne Chambers’ dedication to her legacy.’ Connaught Telegraph
‘This book should be available in every history classroom.’ Cork Examiner
‘The book reaches out and draws Granuaile in from the vagueness. It presents us with a person – an incredible person – but a person who was part of factual history.’ Ireland’s Own
‘Anyone who has tried to find any substantial information on Grace O’Malley will know that a book on this subject has long been needed. Ms Chambers has filled that gap with what will remain the standard work on Granuaile for some time.’ The Irish Post
‘It is not an easy task to write a book which the scholar must read by necessity and the general reader will enjoy. Ms Chambers has achieved this goal.’ Ireland of the Welcomes
‘Anne Chambers is one of the rare exceptions. She has that quality rare in historians of seeing, feeling and understanding the period she writes about as if she were a contemporary.’ Irish Independent
‘Long before the internet, social media and celebrity news, Grace O’Malley came to personify in the hearts of Irishmen and Irishwomen the very spirit of a nation. Her bravery on land and sea was far larger than the gender norms of her day. Her story speaks to our future as much as our past. She was some woman for one woman.’ Martin O’Malley, former Governor, Maryland, USA
‘This anniversary edition of the factual story of Ireland’s great female pioneer and leader by land and sea, Grace O’Malley, puts into perspective the achievements of a woman who can truly claim to have been 400 years before her time. When one considers the current global focus on gender equality that has developed recently in almost every aspect of life, Anne Chambers’ biography, first published in 1979, can also claim to be as innovative as its subject.’ Enda Kenny, former Taoiseach of Ireland
‘Grace O’Malley has always inspired students. Thanks to the work of Anne Chambers in restoring her to the historical record her story lives on and resonates even more today. Grace O’Malley shines as a lively and inspirational role model for women in the 21st century. This biography will continue as an invaluable source in the classroom for the study of one of the key figures from the world of the old Gaelic order.’ Deirdre Mac Mathuna, President, History Teachers Association of Ireland.
‘For generations, O’Malleys worldwide have been interested in the ‘legend’ of their famous ancestor, Granuaile. Many thought she was merely a mythical character. However, with the publication in 1979 of her definitive biography by Anne Chambers, the facts and extent of this extraordinary woman, hitherto airbrushed from historical record, were revealed. Chambers’ biography established Grace O’Malley as the iconic female leader she was, an inspiration, not only to O’Malleys, but to women everywhere.’ Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Guardian Chieftain O’Malley Clan
‘Anne Chambers has done an excellent job in bringing this amazing Irish woman back from the margins. Daughter, wife, mother, widow, lover, divorcee, grandmother, matriarch, powerful leader by land and sea, skilful politician, businesswoman and military tactician, Grace O’Malley achieved it all. You cannot be what you cannot see, and with women all too often airbrushed from history, the importance of this biography cannot be underestimated.’ Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland
Anne Chambers is a biographer, novelist and screenplay writer. Her books include TK Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot; Eleanor, Countess of Desmond; Ranji: Maharajah of Connemara; At Arm’s Length — Aristocrats in the Republic of Ireland; and Granuaile: Sea Queen of Ireland (for children).