Oscar Wilde said, ‘It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and rebellion’. The history of Ireland is certainly filled with rebellious spirit. A character that you may not have heard of, however, is Grace O’Malley, or Gráinne Mhaol, in traditional folklore.
The History of Grace O’Malley
Born around 1530, Grace O’Malley was the daughter of a clan Chieftan from the West Coast of Ireland. Although she was already an heiress to a kingdom built from both piracy and legal trade, Grace ultimately became more famous than her father. She is known as the Rebel Pirate Queen of the West Coast.
Grace created her own legacy through expert seafaring, strategic battles and diplomatic negotiation. She married twice to increase her own power and is even said to have fought off her enemies a day after giving birth!
She is most famous for her forged alliance with Queen Elizabeth I. In a time when the English ruled much of the East Coast of Ireland, O’Malley continually resisted attempts to seize the Western counties. It was only after leading multiple attacks on unsuspecting ships that the English targeted the O’Malley clan. In 1574, her eldest son was killed and youngest captured.
Not one to be defeated, Grace sought council with Queen Elizabeth I herself. She sailed to England and arrived at the Palace of Greenwich with a dagger and bottle of Irish whiskey in hand. Skilful negotiations between the two formidable women resulted in Grace’s son being freed and her land being returned. An allegiance was formed and O’Malley would go on to fight England’s enemies abroad in return.
Grace returned home to Rockfleet Castle and continued to trade, plunder and rule well into her sixties. She reportedly died in 1603 (the same year as Queen Elizabeth I) and was buried on Clare Island.
Believe in Grace
The spirit of the Irish Pirate Queen lives on in Grace O’Malley Whiskey. Their blended Irish whiskey is a mixture of multiple batches (3 to 10 years old), each aged in French & American Oak, Bourbon and Rum Casks. At a slightly higher alcohol volume of 43%, you can expect the following flavours from this brand new whiskey:
- Nose. Light and Sweet
- Palette. Spirit forward with a taste of Orchard Fruits
- Finish. Lingering fruit tones down to your chest. Some might find a slightly honeyed finish.
The Grace O’Malley Collection
As well as their Original Blended Irish Whiskey, Grace O’Malley has also launched:
- Heather-infused Gin. Part of the ‘Crew Range’, this gin is made with 14 different botanicals from the West Coast of Ireland. The result? A fresh but floral gin. Available in our bar and retail.
- Dark Char & Rum Casks. A 5-year-old blend of grain and malt left in ex-bourbon oak casks. What makes it different? They have cut this whiskey down from original cask strength 42% alcohol volume using rock-filtered water from County Mayo. A toasted oak whiskey with an added tropical fruit finish. Available in our bar and retail.
Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey is available as a tasting whiskey on our Classic and Premium tours throughout August.