Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grace O'Malleys Pub, Stroudsburg, PA

Welcome to Grace O'Malley's Pub, Stroudsburg, PA.
A Tradition of Irish Hospitality – for over four hundred years!

What’s in a name?

It all began one evening at a pub, not unlike this one, in County Mayo, Ireland, when we were over in the old country on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. We were sipping creamy-topped pints of Guinness as we watched the sun setting on Clew Bay, with Clare Island silhouetted in the background. Someone suggested a game, to help us pass the time, by matching famous Irish women to a particular trait or talent. We were all animated by the challenge and the effects of the nectared Guinness. The suggestions flew around our table as we warmed to our task.

Film-star – Maureen O’Hara, Grace Kelly?

Musician – Enya, Sinead O’Connor?

Author – Maeve Binchy, Mary Higgins Clark?

Activist – Mary Robinson, Molly Maguire?

Couragious – Annie Moore, Rose Kennedy?

We tried a few more! Dancer? Lover? Politician? Artist?

At that point our waiter, a red haired lad called O’Malley, interjected – ‘Pirate’

‘An Irish woman Pirate, no way!’ we said. But he insisted and so, over the next hour, he told us the story of a 16th century Irish Pirate Queen. Her name was Grace O'Malley, although she was better known by her nickname Granuaile. (Granuaile is pronounced Gron-ya-wail, an Irish term of endearment meaning ‘Grainne of the bald head’!) She earned that name after she cropped her red hair to pass herself off as a man, so she could go ‘raiding’ on her father’s trading ship. She saved her father’s life fighting off Moorish pirates near Spain and from that day on she commanded her own ship, exacting ‘taxes’ from all passing ships on the west coast of Ireland.

Grace O’Malley was born in Rockfleet Castle near Achill Island in 1530 and over the next 73 years her adventures, love affairs and general audacity were so legendary that she has inspired a Broadway Musical, several books, a movie and many stories, songs and poems.

She fought and won many battles against the Tudor English, was imprisoned in Dublin Castle, lost a husband and a lover. both murdered, divorced another husband, by locking him out of his castle and gained, lost and regained great wealth, land and power. At one stage she had 15 ships and a string of castles along the Connemara coast, from Clare Island to Galway, earning her the title, The Pirate Queen of Connemara.

Two of her sons were kidnapped by the English in 1573 and imprisoned in the Tower of London, to be executed for treason. Brazenly, Grace sailed her galleon up the Thames to Greenwich and appealed to Queen Elizabeth for clemency. In the process Grace managed to both insult and impress Elizabeth by refusing to courtesy to her, as in Grace’s opinion, both were Queens in their own right and were thus, ‘equals’. Speaking fluently in Latin to Queen Elizabeth, (Grace also spoke Irish, French, and Spanish, but no English), they established a bond of friendship and before she left, Grace was forgiven her Piracy, her lands and title were restored and her children were pardoned.

Another round of Guinness followed. Later on that evening, in the pub on Clew Bay, we looked for our waiter (O’Malley) to thank him. The Barman gave us a knowing look. ‘O’Malley is it? Sure we have no O’Malley working for us here, at all, at all. But y’know, this pub is reputed to be haunted. I’m told it’s built on the site of an ancient castle where t’is said that the Pirate Queen herself, Grace O’Malley, used entertain her lovers.’

Sure, what else could we call our Pub?

Grace O'Malley's - Where the sun is always just below the yard-arm

Notes for the menu for Barry Lynch and Sean James new Irish Pub, Grace O'Malleys in Stroudsburg, PA