Episode 109: Grace O’Malley

Posted 21 July 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Leave a Comment

Gráinne Ui Mháille, Grainne, Granuaile, Gráinne MhaolGrace, That Irish Pirate Queen From the 16th Century…whatever you call her, her life and legacy as a strong, independent, bold, fearless (and yes, criminal) woman doesn’t change.

Statue at Westport House, Co Mayo, Ireland


A lot of Grainne’s life (we call her that, the “Grace” is an anglicized version and didn’t appear until fairly recently, history-wise) has been passed down in legend, myth and song; a lot of sources tell slightly different versions of her story and a lot of telling involves filling in some blanks that history has left open–wohoo! We love doing this!

Stop skimming over her name with no pronunciation in your head:

Grainne was born into a wealthy family in 1630 in what is now County Mayo, Ireland. Her father was a chieftain for the O’Malley clan, her mother’s name was Margaret who came into the marriage with some wealth and property of her own. Her father made his living as a seafaring merchant…and the gray areas of that involved piracy as a side-hustle. Her father taught her the family business and when she was married off at 16 to an O’Flaherty, Donal of the Battle (a lot had nicknames that are as awesomely descriptive as this), she was able to not only give birth to three children, but took over management of her husband’s fleet.

Her ships weren’t exactly like this, but this is a 16th Century Galley ship via wikicommons

A few years after Husband #1 was killed (eventually someone named “Donal of the Battle” would become “Donal of the Lost Battle”) Grainne remarried Richard-in-Iron, (a member of the Burke clan) had another son, and a very long career on the sea. She traveled to Spain, Portugal, England and France, commanded loyal crews in the hundreds, and used the waters of the western coast of Ireland as her home base just like her Papa had taught her.

In the late 1500s Grainne got wrapped up in political violence as the English worked their way across Ireland getting clans to pledge loyalty (and money) to the crown.

Rockfleet Castle (or Carrickahowley Castle…see why we used ‘Rockfleet?”) bholden via wikicommons

In 1593 Grainne traveled to England to speak Queen-to-Queen with Elizabeth 1 about what was really going on in Ireland. As part of that visit, Grainne answered 18 questions (ahem, sorry, “Eighteen Articles of Interrogatory” sheesh, must we be so formal?) Grainne’s answers gave a solid base for future historians to build the story of her life, and they also made Elizabeth curious enough to not only grant Grainne an audience, but also agreed to her requests of protection.

Meeting of Grace and Elizabeth (a live stream of this meeting would have been so fabulous then we wouldn’t have to guess, like this, unknown, artist did.)

She died sometime in 1603.

Of course we fill in all the details in the podcast, offer up some oft-repeated lore and beliefs and toss in a bit of Irish history and trivia because that is our way.

16th Century Galley Ship via The Story of the Barbary Corsairs’ by Stanley  Lane-Poole, published in 1890 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.


Time Travel with The History Chicks


Anne Chambers


YA(?) Laura Cook Duncombe

Curiously high number of kids’ books:

Anne Chambers


Emily Arnold McCully


Kathleen Krull Kathryn Hewitt


We should just leave this on every shownote. Jason Porath


Cool map of 1500s Ireland from British Library

18 Articles of Interrogatory and Grainne’s answers from the National Archive

Some ruins of Grainne’s castles are left including Clare Island, Rockfleet Castle, and Achill Island footage (with dramatic music)


Discovery Channel documentary hosted by Lucy Lawless!




Want to discuss Grainne, any of the women that we’ve covered, or find a group of History Chicks and Roosters in your area? Join us in our private Facebook Group: The History Chicks Podcast Lounge (Please answer the entry question when you do. It’s easy. We promise.)

We have a Pinterest board for every episode, here’s Grainne/Grace’s!

End song:  Avenging And Bright (Ireland, Thomas Moore) by Leon Lishner and Friends



Episode 108: The Statue of Liberty

Posted 30 June 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 108: The Statue of Liberty

She’s neither alive nor dead; she exists but has never taken a breath; her innards are as hard as steel, but just the sight of her has brought men to grateful, hopeful tears. The Statue of Liberty is a she, which makes her fair game for one of our conversations.



Episode 107: Mary Pickford

Posted 11 June 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 107: Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford was an actress, writer, director, producer, studio head and entrepreneur…but she’s often remembered as “that pretty girl with the curls in silent movies.”

Excuse us? Oh no, that just won’t do.

Library of Congress


Episode 106: Beatrix Potter Revisited and Refreshed

Posted 19 May 2018 by
Tagged As: , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 106: Beatrix Potter Revisited and Refreshed

This week we’re taking a look back at one of the women who surprised us both, in the most delightful of ways-Beatrix Potter. As time and technology has allowed, we’ve gone back and quietly remastered the audio in a number of our older shows and Beatrix is the latest. When we know better, we do better! (more…)

Episode 105: Dowager Empress Cixi of China

Posted 30 April 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts, Shownotes | Comments Off on Episode 105: Dowager Empress Cixi of China


The true story of a woman who, essentially, ruled China for almost 50 years is cloaked by years of inaccurate (read: fabricated) reporting and several sources muddled through translation. Sometimes it feels as if her history is behind the same silk screen where she ruled, a clear outline with veiled detail.

So this’ll be fun!

Yehenara Tsing was born on November 29, 1853. Her name changes several times through her life (and more through translated spellings): Tsing (some sources use her family name which appears first), Lan, Yi and finally the form that she is known to history: Cixi. (more…)

Episode 104: Louisa May Alcott

Posted 8 April 2018 by
Tagged As: , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 104: Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is easily remembered as the author of the sweet coming of age novel about four sisters in Civil War era New England. It was based on her life and her family, but it left out a lot. Like poverty, consistent moving, a father with more lofty ideals than successful methods to deliver them, and writing a large body of work across many genres before she even sat down to write Little Women. Learning her story brings a deeper level of appreciation to all of her work and a good look into the era from a unique perspective.

Plus, it’s a great story of a determined, brilliant and brave woman. Lots to love. (more…)

Episode 103: Ada Lovelace

Posted 17 March 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 103: Ada Lovelace


Countess Ada Lovelace’s mind was extraordinary in the truest sense, truthfully there was very little that was ordinary about her. She was the only legitimate daughter of the poet, Lord Byron and his only wife, Annabella (the 11th Baroness Wentworth thankyouverymuch.) She never met her wild and wildly popular father, was raised by a mother who protected her from the fame-by-association that came with having that kind of parent, educated in a manner that most girls of the time never experienced and, eventually, used that education along with her logical and creative brain to write the world’s first computer program. (more…)

Episode 102: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part Two

Posted 25 February 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 102: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part Two

When we last left Jackie, she was about to set off for a political appearance with her husband to Texas in 1963. This episode covers what happened on that trip, and how she handled her grief and lived her life until her death on May 19, 1994. We really saw three different versions of Jackie in this episode: The Widow, The Mrs. Onassis, The Happy Jackie… and we cover all of them.

The most tragically iconic suit. Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963


Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One

Posted 9 February 2018 by
Tagged As: , , , , | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One


Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.


Episode 100: A Celebration!

Posted 17 January 2018 by
Tagged As: | Categories: Episode, Podcasts | Comments Off on Episode 100: A Celebration!

We’re celebrating our 100th full-length episode and our 7th year by pulling back the curtain and taking a look at some women and moments that we will never forget.