“Gráinne Mhaol and the Pages of History”

Gráinne Mhaol and the Pages of History” will premier in the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, Galway, the largest medieval parish church in Ireland, on Wednesday 28th November at 8pm.

During the show sound and colour perhaps not that far removed from those that graced St Nicholas centuries ago will fill the delightful building.

The epic tale of Grace O’Malley, better known as Granuaile, continues to inspire awe and wonder despite the passing of five centuries. She has been woven into the Irish mythological Panoply as effectively as Queen Maeve or Bridget.

This was the time of Gloriana Triumphant when Queen Elizabeth 1 put her extraordinary handprint on History. A resurgent England, infused with vigour, Humanism and National pride began its progress towards global domination.

Grainne and Elizabeth were of an age, Grainne a little older. They were both born to high rank within their respective polities. Both achieved extraordinary power through their industry and intelligence. They both understood the importance of sea power. They both knew that a new world was evolving in their time. They both understood that their actions and strength would determine the world to come. They both held the keys to the destiny of their time.

From the 1560’s onwards, the great Spanish empire developed a determination to destroy English power and guarantee its domination of the western ocean, or the Spanish Main as it was then known. To this end, Philip the second of Spain built a great troop carrying fleet known as the Armada.

In anticipation of a Spanish invasion Elizabeth turned her attention to Ireland. She sought to consolidate her power to prevent a Spanish take-over. It was at this point she came into contact with Granuaile. Grace with her husband Hugh DeLacy effectively ruled Iar Connacht at this time. With Granuaile’s wealth and fleet at his disposal Richard de Burgo became chief of the Connacht based Clannwiliam Sept. Together they foiled every attempt to impose English autonomy west of the Shannon for 30 years. Granuaile fought 4 separate wars in the years preceding the Armada, keeping the English and particularly Elizabeth’s Governor General Bingham, at bay

The eventual failure of the Armada in 1588 seemed to reduce the Irish threat. The English administration took their vengeance on agents considered to be disloyal. Grainne’s fleet was burned and Tiboid, her son was taken hostage. Hugh O’Neill and his confederate Hugh O’Donnell were incarcerated in Dublin Castle. It seemed the Irish resistance was at an end.

Granuaile sailed to Greenwich to meet Elizabeth, release her son and have her property rights guaranteed. The visit was a success. Elizabeth released Granuaile and her son who returned to Ireland. Shortly afterwards O’Neill and O’Donnell escaped from Dublin Castle and thus began the nine years war. Grainuaile supported the Northern Confederation in what became an existential heave to rid the country of English power. The war finished in 1601 at Kinsale with an English victory.

Elizabeth died the following year, her conquest of Ireland complete in her time. Granuaile died in 1603 as the Treaty of Mellifont was signed. She died as the Gaelic Ireland, which she had come to represent, was being consigned to history.

Jim Aherne, Project Director of ALâ. Tel: 086 8461270, Email: alagalway@gmail.com.



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