Scéalta Grá na hÉireann concludes with a Mayo love story
Scéalta Grá na hÉireann concludes tonight (Wednesday) with the epic love story of Gráinne Ní Mháille and Richard in Iron Bourke during a time of great change and upheaval in 16th century Ireland.
Fearless leader by land and by sea, political pragmatist and tactician, rebel, pirate and matriarch, the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’, Grace O’Malley challenged and manipulated the turbulent politics of 16th century Ireland. Breaching boundaries of gender imbalance and bias, she re-wrote the rules to become one of the world’s first documented feminist trail-blazers.
Her second marriage was to her great love, Iron Richard Bourke. With her husband in tow, Grace O’Malley forged a path to power and leadership by land and by sea in the west of Ireland.
Having married Bourke, O'Malley retained possession of her fleet and continued to ply her trade. Together they stood against the Tudor conquest of Ireland. Despite being challenged by O'Malley's fierce independence, Iron Richard fought by her side and loved her until his death.
The couple’s only child, Tibbot-na-Long, was born at sea. According to folklore, only hours after his birth their ship was boarded by Barbary Pirates. Grace left her chambers to join the fight, rallying her crew to victory.
“I often think about Richard in Iron, that he really was a new age man in terms of his relationship with his wife,” said author Anne Chambers. “He never lost his standing as a Gaelic chieftain and yet he allowed his wife to pursue and continue her independent career. He sailed with her in her fleet of galleys and there was this great acknowledgement of his wife’s superior expertise in so many areas.”
The story as told in Scéalta Grá na hÉireann begins at Rockfleet Castle, the stronghold of the Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley (1530-1603). Rockfleet Castle still stands today on the northern shore of Clew Bay, a testament to the exploits of Ireland’s Pirate Queen and her great love, Richard in Iron.
Rockfleet was an important strategic stronghold for O'Malley. As pirate queen, she docked her three galleys at the foot of Rockfleet from there she could survey her territory across land and sea.
In the present day drive for equality, O'Malley stands as a female icon, a leader who breaches boundaries of gender imbalance and bias. Behind the myths of Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen, there stands a proud and courageous woman, determined to stand her ground against English rule. She became a hero and inspiration for a country seeking to rule itself.
O'Malley was shrewd and knew that alliances that would work for her. Richard in Iron was a shrewd leader who knew his alliance with Gráinne made his position stronger. In a male-dominated society, he never tried to impede her independence. They truly were a power couple that continue to inspire new generations of girls and boys today.
Find out more about the love story of Gráinne and Richard at 8.30 p.m. this evening (Wednesday) on TG4. Scéalta Grá na hÉireann is a Bo Media Production for TG4, made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.