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Granuaile


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A personification of Ireland, based on the career of Gráinne Mhaol [of the cropped hair] Ní Mháille, or Grace O'Malley (c.1530–1603), celebrated pirate of the Mayo coast. Although contemporary records testify to her extraordinary, swashbuckling career, Granuaile is almost as much a creature of folklore as of history. The 18th-century Munster poet Seán Clárach mac Domhnaill first used her name as a metaphor for Ireland, and in most subsequent portrayals little distinction was made between legendary and historical episodes. In one characteristic story, she rises from giving birth to a son to do battle with Turkish corsairs. Her raids take place as far afield as Scotland and also land her in prison. Most famously, she meets with Elizabeth I while barefoot and dressed as an Irish chieftain; ever resolute, she holds her head higher than the queen's, being taller, and converses with the monarch in Latin. Innumerable legends have accrued to her persona, of which the most widely known is her demand that Howth Castle always have its gates open to hungry travellers, to which she forced the proprietors to accede after she herself was denied entry at dinner-time. Subject of more than a dozen popular novels, beginning with W. H. Maxwell's. The Dark Lady of Doona (London, 1836), and of one thorough and reliable study, Anne Chambers, Granuaile! The Life and Times of Grace O'Malley (Dublin, 1979).

Subjects: Religion.


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