Imaginative insights into
Strongbow. The Story of Richard and Aoife
An Irish artist's view of this marriage
'This is the princess Aoife of the Red Hair,’ said Dermot Mac Murrough. He was proud of her. His eyes told me.
There was soot on her face and her clothing was stained with mud and cinders, but Aoife was like a bright light in that dark place. She was tall and strongly built for a girl, and in her face was the pride of kings.
I was very pleasantly surprised. In marriage a man takes what he gets, because marriage is arranged to unite powerful families or to make new allie's, and the daughters of important men are often plain. I hadn’t expected anything more of this one.
But one thing was more important to me than her beauty.
Dermot had told me I would be his heir, I would succeed him as King of Leinster. Under English law, my marriage to his daughter made that certain. His crown would pass to me, I thought, and he had given me Aoife just as he would give me the crown. The two went together. Or so I thought.
I didn’t know anything yet about Irish law.
Having seen and admired my bride-to-be, I began talking with Dermot Mac Murrough.
The tall red-haired girl stood between us for a
O’Brien Press, 0-86278-274-0, pp 102-3
few moments, then added her voice to ours.
Her Latin was just as good as mine, I was startled to discover.
‘Why are you discussing my marriage as if l weren’t here?’ she wanted to know. ‘I haven’t yet said I would marry this man, Father.’
‘Of course I’ll marry her,’ I told Dermot over her head.
Aoife stamped her foot. ‘But I mightn’t marry you!’ she said directly to me.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could a woman refuse to marry the man her father selected for her?
I looked at Dermot Mac Murrough. He wouldn’t meet my eyes. ‘ What is this?’ I asked.
My uncle coughed. ‘Ah ... there’s something you should know, Richard. About these Irish.’
‘What is it?’ I asked impatiently. My men were staring at us.
‘A woman must give permission to the marriage, you can’t force her,’ my uncle told me.
I was astonished. That was like asking a cow’s permission before you bought it!
Study units on Norman Ireland
Granuaile. The Pirate Queen, O'Brien Press, 0-86278-578-2, p. 143
March, the Year of Our Lord 1593, Rockfleet
My dear Toby [her son Tibbott],
I need you to compose a petition in the English language, addressed to the queen. The document must not go through the lord deputy’s hands. Fitzwilliam and Bingham are cut from the same piece of hide. I shall send the petition to my old friend, the duke of Ormond, and ask him to deliver it to Elizabeth in person. Black Thomas has become a favourite of hers, I understand.
In my petition, you are to describe me as Her Majesty’s loyal and faithful subject, Grania O’Malley of Connacht.
Tell Elizabeth that I am an old woman, but one who is devoted to her. Explain that Richard Bingham has deliberately ruined both my ships and my livelihood. The property of my late husband, your father, has been taken from me. I retain only Rockfleet Castle, and I fear Bingham means to drive me out of this too. Ask Elizabeth to protect me from him. Further ask her to allow me a portion of Richard Bourke’s property to maintain myself. Also beseech the queen to grant me the liberty to attack, with sword and fire, her enemies, wherever they shall be
If she agrees to this she will have to give me my ships back.
Resources for Granuaile (Grace O'Malley) & Tudor Ireland
both of the above historical novels are by Morgan Llywelyn
Red Hugh. The Kidnap of Hugh O'Donnell, O'Brien Press, 0-86278-604-5, p. 84
by Deborah Lisson
Interview between Lord Deputy Fiztwilliam & Red Hugh, Christmas 1587
‘ ... It is Her Majesty’s greatest wish that you should be taught and civilised.’
‘Civilised! And ... and is it her belief that to speak English is to be civilised?’
‘Of course, that is a start. With the language and customs and the manners. Once you understand our ways you will see how much better they are. We will teach you to build proper houses and towns and – ‘
I am going to scream, thought Hugh. It is like beating your head against a brick wall. 'We do not want your towns,’ he said patiently, ‘nor your houses nor your customs nor your language. We ...’ He took a deep breath. ‘WE - ARE - NOT - ENGLISH.’