Mise Eire visits a number of Ireland's most famous tales.

Irish Legends

Grace O' Malley


Grace O'Malley was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan in the west of Ireland, following in the footsteps of her father Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Commonly known as Gráinne Mhaol (anglicised as Granuaile) in Irish folklore, she is a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history, and is sometimes known as "The Sea Queen of Connacht". She was well-educated and regarded by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable and competent

Her name was rendered in contemporary English documents in various ways, including Gráinne O'Maly, Graney O'Mally, Grainne Ní Maille, Granny ni Maille, Grany O'Mally, Grayn Ny Mayle, Grane ne Male, Grainy O'Maly, and Granee O'Maillie.

Upon her father's death she inherited his large shipping and trading business (a trade sometimes referred to as mere piracy). Through income from this business, land inherited from her mother, and property and holdings from her first husband, Dónal an Chogaidh (Dónal "the warlike") Ó Flaithbheartaigh, O'Malley was very wealthy (reportedly owning as much as 1,000 head of cattle and horses).

Cu Chulainn


Cú Chulainn is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. He is believed to be an incarnation of the god Lugh, who is also his father His mother is the mortal Deichtine, sister of Conchobar mac Nessa.

Born Sétanta, he gained his better-known name as a child, after killing Culann's fierce guard-dog in self-defence and offered to take its place until a replacement could be reared. At the age of seventeen he defended Ulster single-handedly against the armies of queen Medb of Connacht in the famous Táin Bó Cúailnge ("Cattle Raid of Cooley"). It was prophesied that his great deeds would give him everlasting fame, but his life would be a short one.
He is known for his terrifying battle frenzy, or ríastrad (translated by Thomas Kinsella as "warp spasm"and by Ciaran Carson as "torque"), in which he becomes an unrecognisable monster who knows neither friend nor foe. He fights from his chariot, driven by his loyal charioteer Láeg and drawn by his horses, Liath Macha and Dub Sainglend. In more modern times, Cú Chulainn is often referred to as the "Hound of Ulster".

The Claddagh

Claddagh (Irish: an Cladach, meaning "the shore") is an area close to the centre of Galway city, where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay. It was formerly a fishing village, just outside the old city walls. It is just across the river from the Spanish Arch, which was the location of regular fish markets where the locals supplied the city with seafood as recently as the end of the 19th century. People have been gathering seafood and fishing from the area for millennia. It is one of the oldest former fishing villages in Ireland - its existence having been recorded since the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century.

Immigration - The Irish arrive to America

Ellis-Island-Irish-Ships-to-America-3
Ellis-Island-Irish-Ships-to-America-3

Throughout the Famine years, nearly a million Irish arrived in the United States. Famine immigrants were the first big wave of poor refugees ever to arrive in the U.S. and Americans were simply overwhelmed. Upon arrival in America, the Irish found the going to be quite tough. With no one to help them, they immediately settled into the lowest rung of society and waged a daily battle for survival.

Annie Moore by Jeanne Rynhart
Annie Moore by Jeanne Rynhart

From eighteen twenty to nineteen twenty, more than four million people left their native shores of Ireland bound for the Port of New York and a new life in America. When Ellis Island officially opened on January first, eighteen ninety two, the first passenger registered through the now world-famous immigration station was a young Irish girl named Annie Moore. Annie departed from Queenstown (County Cork, Ireland) on December twentieth, eighteen ninety one aboard the S.S. Nevada, one of one hundred and forty eight steerage passengers. Annie along with her two younger brothers would spend twelve days at sea (including Christmas Day), arriving in New York on Thursday evening, December thirty first. They were processed through Ellis Island the following morning, New Year's Day.

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