In the sixteenth century, Granuaile, the Pirate Queen, warrior and leader, was the terror of the North Atlantic and the most feared woman in Ireland. Heading a large army and a fleet of ships, she lived by trading and raiding and demanding tribute from all who sailed through her territory.
Told partly through letters written to her son Tibbot, it charts the gradual decline of the Gaelic chieftains and traditions of Ireland as Elizabeth Tudor, the 'Virgin Queen' of England, extended her power throughout Ireland by bribery and slaughter. It is a story of immense bravery and daring, as Granuaile takes on the great Norman lords, smuggles weapons and mercenaries for the Ulster Gaelic O'Donnell and O'Neill clans and finally goes to confront Elizabeth Tudor herself. Some of the great figures of Irish history feature, including Red Hugh O'Donnell, Hugh O'Neill, Hugh Dubh O'Donnell, and Richard Bingham.
Historian and novelist Morgan Llywelyn was born in New York City, but after the death of her husband and parents in 1985 returned to Ireland to take up citizenship in the land of her grandparents and make her permanent home there.
After making the shortlist for the United States Olympic Team in Dressage in 1975, but not making the team itself, she turned to writing historical novels exploring her Celtic roots. The most successful of these was Lion of Ireland - The Legend of Brian Boru, which was published in 1980 and has sold into the millions of copies.
She received the Novel of the Year Award from the National League of American Penwomen for her novel The Horse Goddess as well as the Woman of the Year Award from the Irish-American Heritage Committee for Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish. The latter award was presented to her by Ed Koch, then-mayor of New York City.
Morgan is also the author of A Pocket History of Irish Rebels for the O'Brien Pocket Books Series.
In 1990 Morgan Llywelyn turned to writing for the young reader, with the publication of Brian Boru, Emperor of the Irish, a biography in the novelistic style, by The O'Brien Press, Dublin. For this book she won an Irish Children's Book Trust Bisto Award in 1991. Her second book for the young reader is Strongbow, The Story of Richard and Aoife (The O'Brien Press) 1992, for which she won a Bisto Award in the Historical Fiction category, 1993 and the Reading Association of Ireland Award, 1993. Her third novel for young readers, entitled Star Dancer, (The O'Brien Press) was drawn from her experience of the world of showjumping and dressage. She has also written The Vikings in Ireland, an exploration of what actually happened when the Norsemen landed in Ireland.
Morgan's latest book for children is Pirate Queen, the story of Grace O'Malley, told partly through letters from Granuaile to her beloved son. It is a thrilling tale of adventure that brings this unorthodox and inspiring historical figure to life.
Engaging and quite accessible to younger readers.
At once both a lesson in 16th century history and a thrilling adventure story ... Despite its educational content, the books veers away from the didactic and remains an animated and enthralling adventure with an emancipated, audacious and inspiring heroine.
Children's Books in Ireland
This book, despite the well-covered subject, is outstanding ... One can smell the sea and feel the slippery boards underfoot, in this story of a passionate, strong yet wise woman, while learning much about the English and the Irish in the 16th century.
The Irish Post
The story is told partly in the form of letters from Granuaile to her youngest son ... and in present tense third-person accounts. This combination of partly-fictitious personal narrative and factual events blend together in a pacy story.
The Sunday Tribune
an amazing story of courage, determination and cunning ... Her story is set in one of the most turbulent times in the history of our country and tells of the bravery amongst a people determined to survive.
The Irish Examiner
Extract available: read some of this book now ...