O'Malley, Grace (DNB00)

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O'MALLEY, GRACE (1530?–1600?), Irish chieftain's wife, called in Irish writings Graine Ui Maille (ui being the feminine form of ua, grandson or descendant), and in the State Papers, Grany O'Mayle, Grainne O'Mailley, Grany Ne Male, Grany Ny Mayle, Ghrayn Ny Vayle and Grany Ne Malley, was daughter of Dubhdara O'Malley, chieftain of Umhaill Uachtrach Ui Mhaille, now the barony of Murrisk, co. Mayo, and of his wife Margaret, daughter of Conchobhar O'Malley, according to her own statement in state papers dated July 1593. She is often called in local traditions and songs Graine Mhaol. Maol, of which the nominative singular feminine after a noun is Mhaol, means cropped or docked, as in the well-known Irish tale, 'Eachtra agus im the act an mhadra mhaol' (‘The Adventures of the Dog with Docked Ears and Tail’), and hence tonsured, as in the name of an ecclesiastic of the eleventh century, Maolsuthain, translated by himself Calvus perennis. The incident or peculiarity which gave rise to the name in her case is not related in any of the numerous stories about her. The O'Malleys are one of the few clans of Ireland celebrated in the native histories as sea-rovers, and Graine's childhood was spent on the mainland of their country and among the islands of Inisbofin, Inisclerie, Inisturke, Inissearc, Inisdallduff, and Inisdevellan. She married, first, Domh-nall-an-choffaidh OTlaherty, son of Gilladubh O'Flaaerty, chieftain of Bailenaliinsi, co. Galway, called in the State Papers Ballynehenessy, and at the present day Ballinahinch. By him she had two sons, Eoghan, who married Catharine, daughter of Edmund Burke of Castle Barry, and Murchadh. Her husband was 'assured cousin in nine degrees' to the Sir Murrough ne doe O'Flaherty (called by the Irish, Murchadh na dtuagh, of the axes), whom Queen Elizabeth recognised as head of the O'Flaherties. She married, secondly, Richard Mac Oileverius Burke (called by the Irish, Risdeart an iarain, of the iron), who became Mac William Iochtar, or chief of the Burkes of Mayo, in 1582 (Annals of Loch Cé, ii. 453). By him she had one son, Theobald (called in Irish, Tibot na long, of the ships), who married Medhbh, daughter of O'Connor Sligo. She must also have had a daughter, if the statement in the state papers is correct that she was mother-in-law to Richard Burke. called by the English 'the Devil's Hook,' and in Irish, Deamhan an Chorrain, fiend of the sickle. She made many expeditions by sea, and was famous as a bold and active leader. In 1576, she, with her second husband, came to Sir Henry Sidney at Galway, and made alliance with him. He knighted Richard Burke, with whom he conversed in Latin, the only language, except Irish, which Burke knew. Her husband died before 1586 (State Papers). In 1577 she was captured by the Earl of Desmond, and brought to Dublin soon after 1 July 1678. She was released, and in October 1582 was suspected of plotting with the Earl of Thomond, Lord Birmingham, several Burkes, O'Madden, MacMorris, MacDavey, and Sir Murrough ne doe O'Flaherty. She was reported to think herself no small lady. At the end of the year (ib. 27 Jan. 1583), when Theobald Dillon came into her country, she swore to have his life for coming; but her husband quieted her. Both afterwards came to Sir Nicholas Malby [q. v.] to arrange not to pay 600l., arrears of taxes due to the government. Her husband being dead, she went to Carraicanchobhlaigh, her castle in Borrisowle, co. Mayo, with a thousand cows and mares, and in 1586 obtained letters of conduct from Sir Richard Bingham. He seized her, stating that she had plundered Aran Island, tied her with a rope, and built a gallows for her. She was let off on a pledge from the Devil's Hook, Richard Burke. When he rebelled, she fled to Ulster, and stayed with O'Neill and O'Donnell, being unable to return owing to loss of her ships. She received Queen Elizabeth's pardon through Sir John Perrot, and returned to Connaught. Sir Richard Bingham, who usually took an unfavourable view of the Irish, describes her, on 23 Aug. 1593, 'as a notable traitress and nurse of all rebellions in the province for forty years.' On 5 May 1595 she sent a petition to Burghley for the restoration of one-third of her husband's lands to her. She died in great poverty a few years later, and local tradition states that she is buried on Clare Island.

Numerous current stories of her adventures are unsupported by records. An old tune, known to all Irish fiddlers and pipers, is called after her, and is printed in Bunting's 'Ancient Music of Ireland.' In the south of Ireland it was regarded as a tune proper to the catholic interest, as is shown in Gerald Griffin's [q. v.] ballad, 'Orange and Green.'

[Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, 1674-85, 1688-92, 1592-6; O'Flaherty's Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connaught, ed. Hardiman, Dublin, 1846.]

N. M.