A Quest to Uncover Our Swashbuckling Past

Des Ekin
Ireland's Pirate Trail

Des Ekin embarks on a roadtrip around the entire coast of Ireland, in search of our piratical heritage, uncovering an amazing history of swashbuckling bandits, both Irish-born and imported.


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368 pages
196x130 mm

Also available as an E-Book (ePub)

This edition is not available yet, but we welcome you to place a pre-order.

Category History

Bloodthirsty buccaneers and buried treasure, fierce sea battles and cold-blooded murders, Barbary ducats and silver pieces of eight.

Des Ekin embarks on a roadtrip around the entire coast of Ireland, in search of our piratical heritage, uncovering an amazing history of swashbuckling bandits, both Irish-born and imported.

Ireland’s Pirate Trail tells stories of freebooters and pirates from every corner of our coast over a thousand years, including famous pirates like Anne Bonny and William Lamport, who set off to ply their trade in the Caribbean. Ekin also debunks many myths about our most well-known sea warrior, Granuaile, the ‘Pirate Queen’ of Mayo. Thoroughly researched and beautifully told. Filled with exciting untold stories.

Preface 11
Part I
East by Sou’-East 17
1. Pirate Pilgrimage the First 18
Dalkey, Tramore, New Ross, Dublin
On the Trail of McKinley’s Gold 21
2. Pirate Pilgrimage the Second 42
County Meath
‘I’ll Make You Officers … in Hell.’ 44
3. Pirate Pilgrimage the Third 54
Wexford Town
William Lamport, the Wex-Mex ‘Zorro’ 56
4. Pirate Pilgrimage the Fourth 66
Saltees, Dublin City, Rush
The Three Privateers and the Rebel Yell from Rush 69
Part II
South by Sou’-West 91
5. Pirate Pilgrimage the Fifth 92
Waterford, Roaring Water Bay
‘He Led Them in a Carol, Then Clapped Them in Irons’95
6. Pirate Pilgrimage the Sixth 105
Kinsale, Carolina, Caribbean
Anne Bonny, Scourge of the Caribbean 108
7. Pirate Pilgrimage the Seventh 123
Cork City, Brazil, Boston
The Strange American Odyssey of Peter Roach 129
8. Pirate Pilgrimage the Eighth 143
Berehaven, Leamcon, Baltimore, Valentia Island
The Hellhounds of Dog’s Leap and the
Pirate Armadas of West Cork 145
9. Pirate Pilgrimage the Ninth 166
The Framing of William Marsh169
Part III
West by Nor’-West 189
10. Pirate Pilgrimage the Tenth 190
Clare Island
Grania Mania 194
11. Pirate Pilgrimage the Eleventh 221
Broad Haven
The Admiral, the Pirate, the Chieftain and his Daughters 225
12. Pirate Pilgrimage the Twelfth 233
‘Twenty Good Men Could Cut Their Throats’ 237
13. Pirate Pilgrimage the Thirteenth 251
Dunfanaghy, Achill Island
The World’s Most Wanted Man 254
Part IV
North by Nor’-East 271
14. Pirate Pilgrimage the Fourteenth 272
Black Tom, the Scummer of the Sea 275
15. Pirate Pilgrimage the Fifteenth 283
‘I Drew My Sword for the Rights of Men’ 285
16. Pirate Pilgrimage the Sixteenth 294
Belfast, Holywood, Bangor, Donaghadee
Pirates and Belfast Lough 296
17. Pirate Pilgrimage the Seventeenth 308
Rathlin, Inishowen, Howth, Strangford, Dublin
The Viking Pirates, the Irish Slavemaster and
the Captive Princess 313
18. Pirate Pilgrimage the Eighteenth 330
The Puzzle of the Ouzel 334

Acknowledgements 349
Source Notes 351

Des Ekin is a retired journalist and the author of four books. Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, he began his career as a reporter. After spending several years covering the Ulster Troubles, he rose to become Deputy Editor of the Belfast Sunday News before moving to his current home in Dublin. He worked as a journalist, columnist, Assistant Editor and finally Political Correspondent for The Sunday World until 2012. His book The Stolen Village (2006) was shortlisted for the Argosy Irish Nonfiction Book of the Year and for Book of the Decade in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2010. He is married with a son and two daughters.

excellent popular studies

Irish Times

a former journalist, Ekin is a concise writer who laces his work with humour but still manages to rigorously source the crucial details. On his trip, which takes in 30 locations, he uncovers new information seeing through the glamorising of these swashbuckling adventurers and revealing stories of lesser-known pirates whose bloodstained careers are forgotten

Irish Times

his journeys provide insight, not only into piratical matters, but also into the socio-historical past of the island of Ireland

Irish Examiner

all sorts of tales from Ireland’s pirate past

Irish Examiner

thoroughly researched and beautifully told and filled with exciting untold stories

Irish Farmers Monthly

historically, the Irish have always punched above their weight on the international stage, and as pirates, it would seem, we were no different … Ekin blends historical fact with an easy narrative style and a smattering of pirate puns for an entertaining and informative read … his insight into the maritime world of centuries past is fascinating … Ekin’s pirate stories are hair-raising, amusing and exciting

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine (UK and Ireland)

drawing from local and area records, empirical evidence, passed-down oral accounts and more, the author does well to piece together a puzzling part of the country’s swashbuckling past. Equally engaging is Ekin’s personal touch; at times the work reads like a diary of sorts … inviting readers along for the ride. While the Emerald Isle enjoys a tremendous mythology of pirating both at home and away, much as it was for the buccaneers themselves, the journey is the destination

Celtic Life International Magazine

no better non-fiction beach read if you’re ‘staycationing’

Sunday Independent

Irish history is traditionally seen in the context of the gradual conquest of the Gaelic Irish. Its story of piracy has not in the main inspired historians to put pen to paper. Des Ekin has risen to the challenge. We really do not hear much about Irish pirates … until now, no-one has compiled a full history of the subject. Des Ekin's book Ireland's Pirate Trail addresses this gap - and the details will surprise a lot of people … an interesting read, both as a travelogue and as a piece of history that has been overlooked

fascinating … riveting

Sunday World

the book is absolutely fascinating

Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show
Pat Kenny

a fascinating collection … a great read

Tuam Herald


Mayo News

Des Ekin sets out on a road trip along the coast of Ireland, in search of our piratical heritage. Stopping in historical villages and well known towns, he uncovers an amazing history of swashbuckling bandits. Ireland is steeped in history and this little known part of our past is a gem to engross yourself in. From taking part in America’s fight for independence to tales and myths of Granuaile herself, Des Ekin pulls you into these stories and doesn’t let go.

Dubray Books Recommended Reads
Calum, Dubray Bray
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Other books by this author
  • The Stolen Village
  • Stone Heart
  • Single Obsession
  • Hell or Some Worse Place: Kinsale 1601

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