Grace O’Malley - Time Line
1530: Born in the lorship of Umhall, Co Mayo, daughter of the chieftain Owen (Dudara) O’Malley from whom she learned her seafaring expertise.
1546: Given in a politically motivated marriage to Donal of the Battles O’Flaherty, tanaiste of the Clan O’Flaherty in his castle of Bunowen, in Connemara.
1547-1552: Gives birth to 2 sons, Owen and Murrough and a daughter, Margaret.
1560: Donal killed in an inter-clan dispute. Grace avenges his death and assumes leadership of his clan on behalf of her sons.
1564: Returns to Umhall and settles on Clare Island, from where she commences her successful career of ’maintenance by land and sea’ with her father’s ships and a private army of 200 men. Her fame as a leader and an expert mariner grows.
1565: Rescues Hugh de Lacy from the sea and he becomes her lover. Subsequently wrecks a terrible retribution on the MacMahons when they kill Hugh.
1566: When the English administration begins to push into Mayo, she marries Richard-in-Iron Bourke, whose castle, Rockfleet, is less exposed than Clare Island. When she has moved her ships and army into Richard’s castle she divorces him.
1567: Her son Theobald (Tiboid-ne-Long) Toby-of-the- Ships is born aboard her ship. She defends her new-born son from an attack from Barbery Pirates On her return to Rockfleet she becomes re-united with Richard-in-Iron to protect themselves from the English.
1571: With Grace’s help, Richard-in-Iron becomes tanaiste (elected succesor) to the MacWilliam of Mayo, the premier chiefdom in Mayo
1576: The Mac William of Mayo submits to Queen Elizabeth of England. Richard-in-Iron’s position as his successor is under threat.
1577: With her army and navy in tow, Grace impresses Elizabeth’s minister, Sir Henry Sidney in Galway with her military capabilities.
1577: Grace plunders Desmond and is captured by the Earl of Desmond, who imprisons her in Limerick Jail.
1578: To save his own neck, Desmond hands her over to the English Governor.
1579: Richard-in-Iron rises in rebellion. Grace is released from prison by the English on the pretext of bringing him to heel.
1579: Grace plunders English shipping. She routes an English army sent to beseige her at Rockfleet.
1580:The MacWilliam dies and his son succeeds him by English law. Grace and Richard go into rebellion to secure their rights. Grace’s ships bring in the infamous Scottish mercenaries, the Gallowglass. The English are no match for them and agree to deal. Richard becomes the MacWilliam of Mayo and is inaugurated in the age-old Gaelic custom.
1581: Grace and Richard resist the encroachment of the English on their power and lands.
1584: Sir Richard Bingham is appointed English Governor. He sets out to destroy Grace and her family.
1584: Grace leads a rebellion against Bingham.
1586: Bingham’s brother kills Grace’s eldest son, Owen
1586: Under the guise of a truce, Bingham lures Grace to his headquarters. He proclaims her a traitor and condems her to death. She is rescued by her son-in-law.
1587: Grace flees to Ulster to consult with O’Neill. With his ally, O’Donell, he is plotting to unite the Irish for the first time and, with help from the King of Spain, to drive the English out of Ireland.
1588:The Spanish Armada is driven by bad weather to its doom. Bingham exacts a terrible revenge on Grace and her relations for helping the Spanish. They retaliate and Bingham declares all-out war.
1589:Bingham accuses Grace of treason and of being ’the nurse to all rebellions in Ireland’ and reports her to Elizabeth.
1590:Bingham pressurises Grace’s second son, Murrough, to ally with him. Furious Grace attacks Murrough intensifies her efforts against Bingham.
1591: By adopting a ’scorched earth’ tactic, Bingham finally defeats the Grace. He her fleet of ships which renders her powerless. She strikes back and seizes an English ship.
1592: In desperation Grace writes to Elizabeth telling her of the injustices perpetrated against her by Bingham and seeking redress.
1593: Bingham seizes Tiboid and charges him with treason, a crime punishable by death.
1593: Grace makes a momentuous and dangerous decision. (July)She will sail to London and put her case to Elizabeth face to face.
1593: Septemper, Against Bingham’s advice Elizabeth grants Grace an audience at her glittering Court at Greenwich. Showing a shrewd negotiating ability and daring, Grace out-manouvers the Queen, secures her son’s release and boldly elicits the Queen’s assent to continue her career by land and sea.
1594: Bingham is recalled to England and Grace returns unhindered to her old career.
1597: At the ’great age’ of 67, Grace is recorded still actively leading her men by sea in a retaliatory attack on MacNeil of Barra off the Scottish coast.
1601: The Battle of Kinsale and the final demise of the Gaelic world of Grace O’Malley.
1603: Grace dies at Rockfleet.