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Florence Nightingale or Grace O'Malley?

‘Upset when her father refused to take her on a [sea] trip because she was a girl, the story goes that Grace cut off her hair and donned male clothes.’
Granuaile by M. Moriarty & C. Sweeney

O’Brien Press, 0-86278-62-0, p. 15

Year 1
Look at the picture opposite of the shorthaired Granuaile with her mother, brother and father in the background.
Describe the events using speech bubbles to explain emotions.

Year 2
Freeze frame or hot seat the picture opposite of the shorthaired Granuaile with her mother, brother and father in the background.
Focus on how differently males and females are expected to act.


‘GRANA UILE [sic] introduced to QUEEN ELIZABETH’
Frontispiece to Anthologia Hibernica, Vol. II, 1793
There is no contemporary account of this meeting which took place in 1593.

1. Look at the picture on the right and the list of phrases below.
Which phrases do you think apply to Granuaile and which to Elizabeth I?

linen saffron smock gown richly embroidered
lace handkerchief weather-beaten face
chalk-like face large woollen sleeveless cloak
sober dress ornamental style.

(Year 2: Suggest a reason why the two women

would be dressed in clothing that was so different.)

2. Do you remember the reasons why Granuaile met Elizabeth I?
Can you imagine what they said to each other?
Use Drama conventions to reconstruct the picture opposite, then try to reconstruct the conversation between the two women, e.g., ‘Still image’ and ‘Thought tapping’.
Use hand puppets to act out the imagined conversation.

Alternative 'significant woman'

Sandra Kirkland from Naseby CE Primary School roused the ire of the Daily Mail when she asked on a QCA web site

'Who needs Florence Nightingale?'


Sandra was proposing Grace O'Malley as an alternative to Florence Nightingale as a 'significant woman' in Key Stage 1 History after she had given herself 'a new lease of life' and aroused the curiosity of years 1 and 2 by announcing that they were going to study an Irish pirate.


'The excitement became almost irrepressible when it gradually dawned on the children that the pirate was a woman, the fearless Grace O'Malley.'


The Daily Mail , 28 December 2004,had not heard of Grace.


Under the headline 'Move over Florence', it was outraged by the thought that an English icon should be supplanted by

an Irish woman who, according to one Tudor official,

‘hath impudently passed the part of womanhood and been a great spoiler and chief commander and director of
and murderers at sea’.


The Guardian disagreed the following day.