A woman and a half!! Born in the time of Elizabeth the first (who it is claimed she met )At a time when most women stayed around the hearth this daughter of an Irish seafaring family put fear into the hearts of marauding seamen around the coast of Ireland. Fascinating read well researched.
Of course I'd heard of Granuaile, the Pirate Queen, but only in an incidental sort of way. Now I find out that her story is more exciting, and more relavant, than "Treasure Island" which I had read at a very young and impressionable age. I had even been allowed off school to see the film. After all, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote literature, did he not?
Anne Chambers has now set me straight. Granuaile was a formidable, fascinating, and challenging woman and was consequently written out of official (male) Irish history. An inconvenient truth with no place in the school curriculum of the Christian Brothers who taught me. Had they realised the fullness of this warrior queen, she might have figured in more than just the curriculum.
Anne has spent years of patient and thorough research bringing this remarkable woman to life. Much of the material has been winkled out of official English records. Granuaile's frequent appearance in the records of the oppressor is a testimony to her importance, and effectiveness, in her long fight, on land and on sea, to hold on to her Irish heritage. She lived through a period when the old Gaelic culture and laws were being systematically eradicated in favour of those of the invader.
The book is a revelation and a great read. I am heartened to learn that since my day Granuaile is now on the curriculum and well on the way to claiming her rightful place in Irish history. And this is no small thanks to Anne Chambers, bless her.
In Anne Chambers' descriptions of Granuaile I detect a person of great charisma, skill, intelligence, fortitude, a rebel, a politician, a manipulator, a worthy leader, a protector ... and a great woman ... a heroine indeed!
This is near-secret history to English readers, and the author negotiates the archives with considerable expertise.
Shaun Davey's outstanding musical suite `Granuaile' led me to want to know more about this pirate queen. Granuaile
I visited County Mayo. I bought Anne Chambers' book.
The text, perhaps understandably, is almost feminist in flavour, but I have no difficulty with that.
Be warned: Ms. Chambers' book is readable, but it is NOT a novel. It is primarily a well-researched academic text, worthy of a professorial chair for the author!
This valuable study based on primary as well as secondary sources is a highly readable ans estimable contribution on that rare phenomenon - a female warrior clan leader - based in Donegal and Galway during the last years of Elizabeth 1. It must be unique because no other females of this ilk have surfaced in the British Isles in this century.
It is a very scholarly and well researched work - as one would expect from this well qualified author. The only "nit" I would pick (if I may use an English colloquialism) is the use throughout of the Irish forms of names, which might detract from readability by readers who are unfamiliar with them. And there are plenty of those, notably in the USA. Daniel O'Connell, a great Irish patriot for whom Irish was his first language, said something to the effect that the purpose of language is to communicate, and I am old enough to agree with him! (“although the Irish language is connected with many recollections that twine round the hearts of Irishmen, yet the superior utility of the English tongue,as the medium of all modern communication, is so great that I can witness without a sigh the gradual disuse of Irish.”)
I appreciate the fact that this is a minority view today - but I left Ireland in 1975 when life was different. Maybe I should put a half of that fifth star back! When I left Ireland I doubt if many had even heard of Granuaile, and today she is even on school curricula, largely due to Ms Chambers wonderful work.