Gráinne Ní Mháille, better known as Grace O’Malley, was an infamous pirate queen. She was born in the 1530’s in County Mayo, Ireland, and at the height of her career, she commanded 3 galleys, 20 ships and over 200 men. She was an adept seafarer, a shrewd trader and a knowledgeable Chieftain. This twice widowed and twice imprisoned woman, was also a mother. She won many battles against the British and yet it was Queen Elizabeth I who pardoned her death condemnation. It is the stuff of legends in Ireland, how this pirate went alone to visit the British Queen and not only got herself pardoned, but also became the Queen’s good friend and ally.
Catherine was an international opera and concert singer in the 19th century, who was born on October 29, 1818 in Limerick, Ireland. She was the first ever Irish-born opera diva and a classic rags-to-riches success story. She traveled the globe, riding on the success of her passion-filled songs. She received an encore from Queen Victoria and her 500 guests when she performed in Buckingham Palace, London, in 1849.
Katharine was a prolific Irish author born on January 23, 1859 in Dublin, Ireland. She has two anthologies, 105 popular novels and countless newspaper articles to her credit. She published 16 poetry collections, 5 plays, 7 devotional books, one book on her dogs and twelve short story collections as well. Her work is distinctive for its own unique blend of Catholicism and feminism. Some of her famous literary works are: Irish Love-Songs, Miracle Plays, The Way of a Maid, An Isle in the Water, A Girl’s Song, A Birth-Night Song, A Gardener-Sage, A Daughter Of The Fields, The Cabinet of Irish Literature, The House of the Crickets, Ireland, Heart O’ Gold or the Little Princess, Lord Edward: A Study in Romance and A Mad Marriage.
“I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.” – Mary Robinson.
Mary Burke, born in County Mayo of the North Western Ireland, to two physician parents and went on to become the famous Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland. She held the highest position in Ireland, at a time when only two other females in the world, accompanied her in the elite ‘Head of State’ league. Born on 21st May, she worked hard to become a barrister. She took office in December 1990, as the seventh President of Ireland and resigned on 12th September 1997, eleven weeks prior to her completion of term. She did this in order to accept the post of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a very prestigious and powerful job. She is always the first name in Ireland, when it comes to fighting for the disadvantaged and the polishing of Ireland’s international profile.
“We are a vibrant First World country, but we have a humbling Third World memory.” – Mary McAleese.
Mary McAleese is the second woman to lead ‘The Republic of Ireland’. She became the 8th president of Ireland on November 11, 1997 and led the nation till November 10, 2011, by winning two consecutive presidential elections. Mary was born in 1951 in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic Belfast family. She spent her childhood in a Protestant area, near Ardoyne, and later moved to Dublin (in 1975) to take up professorship at Trinity at just 24 years of age. After 4 years at Trinity, she changed her profession to that of a reporter on the ‘Frontline’ and ‘Today Tonight’. She was President for 14 years, the longest serving elected woman in the world.
Sister Sarah Clarke
This Irish nun was better known as the ‘Joan of Arc’ of the English prisons for her dogged investigations of human rights abuses in British prisons. Sister Sarah was born in Eyrecourt, County Galway and joined the ‘La Sainte Union Sisters’ in 1939. She fought against the abuse of both, the prisoners as well as their families. Her more than 25 years of straight talking, vehement arguing and inexhaustible patience gave her many victories. She died on 4th February, 2002, in London.