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A Soldier, a Lady, and a Pirate

Shakespeare for Kids

Have you heard about Thomas Butler, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, or Grace O'Malley? If you haven't, you can find out about these famous Irish people now!


Thomas Butler was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I. Stories say that he and Elizabeth played together as children and became good friends. When Elizabeth grew up and became queen, Thomas supported her. He fought her enemies in Ireland and he even built a beautiful house, Ormond Castle, that legend says was for Queen Elizabeth in case she ever needed a place to stay in Ireland. Unfortunately, she never came to visit. The castle is still standing today.


Elizabeth Fitzgerald lived in London among kings and queens of England, although she had been born in Ireland. Elizabeth was famous for her beauty, and in her lifetime people called her "The Fair Geraldine." She became a close friend and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. But kings and queens could change their minds easily, and sometimes Elizabeth Fitzgerald and the queen did not get along. However, Elizabeth Fitzgerald was never in trouble permanently and she became a wealthy and powerful woman.


Grace O'Malley did a very unusual thing for a woman in the 1500s - she became a pirate! Grace led a fleet of ships on the western coast of Ireland. Sometimes she collected money from other ships she found in "her" waters. Sometimes, she sent her ships to trade and bring back items that could be sold in Ireland. Grace O'Malley had her own castle and became very rich. She is still famous in Ireland today, and even had a play made up about her called The Pirate Queen!


Portrait of Thomas Butler, 16th century

Portrait of "The Fair Geraldine," 16th century

The Pirate Queen. New York, 2007

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