Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Grace O'Malley: The Pirate Queen

More Son Than Daughter

Owen O'Malley knew how much his daughter loved the sea. He was more than delighted to instruct her in the skills of seamanship and trading. There is little doubt that Owen saw Grace more as a son than a daughter.

Grace was not only a willing student, but also proved to be quite adept at understanding all she was taught. She could read and predict the winds, weather, and tides, as well as he could. This pleased Owen so much that he began taking his daughter on some of his trading ventures so she could exercise all that she had learned. It was not long before Grace became as good a seaman as her father. There were some who believed that she eventually was even a better one.

On her return from one voyage to Spain, the family heard a most remarkable story. Her father had ordered her to hide below deck if his ships were ever attacked and on the way back from Spain, just such an event occurred when an English pirate ship attacked. Instead of going down below, she climbed up onto the rigging and when she saw a pirate coming up behind her beloved father with a knife, she jumped down from the rigging, screaming loudly and biting the man.

Grace's astonishing bravery saved her father's life and helped turn the tide of the battle to their favor. This was only the beginning.