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A fascinating account of a shadowy historical figure of varying spellings, an exact contemporary of Elizabeth I, who appears to have used her own resources to prey on shipping along the Atlantic seaboard of Ireland; it's difficult to be sure what is fact and what is fiction - did she really give birth on board one of her own ships, and then a few hours later struggle to the deck to take pot-shots at Algerian raiders? did she really kidnap the son of the Earl of Howth in retribution for a failure of hospitality? - but it adds up to some interesting material, and Chambers is frank about the gaps in her knowledge, as well as giving us some of the primary documents in an appendix.

The first edition of the book was published in 1979, a very different time for stories of Irish feminist heroes who threaten to divorce their husbands and then take handsome young lovers. For me, though, the most interesting point was the ability of Granuaile to appeal over the head of the local English administrators to the royal court, and her straight-faced ability to portray herself as a loyal subject beset by venal officials (and the paranoid and counterproductive reaction of those officials to her approaches). Chambers writes Granuaile into a traditional English v Irish political paradigm, but there is more going on here. I wish I knew more about the access of male Irish chieftains to the court; I feel I don't have enough information to know how unusual Granuaile's treatment was.

Anyway, an interesting read.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
Sounds interesting; I'll have to look out for that.
s g
Aug. 26th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
My favourite spelling of her name is Granye O Malye.

I think she's fairly low down in the ranks of significant Irish people of that age. And no, she's not a feminist icon - just an aristocrat trying to preserve her privileges from the central government.

Her access to the court in London was a symptom of disaffection from the Dublin government - a bit like modern corporations lobbying Washington or Brussels. She was preceded there in the 1560s by all the major gaelic chieftains - fat lot of good it did them.
Aug. 27th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
You've made a really bad impression on me by coming into what is effectively my online front room without introducing yourself, and posting what are almost trollish comments about climate change and Irish history.

If you want to change that, I'm looking for genuine information on the Elizabethan court and its attitude to Irish chieftains, and would appreciate any real sources.

Edited at 2011-08-27 07:27 pm (UTC)
s g
Jun. 9th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not much of a livejournal user, so hadn't spotted this reply until now. Thought your blog was interesting, a bit unquestioning.

So long.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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