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The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I & the Pirate O'Malley    by Robin Maxwell order for
Wild Irish
by Robin Maxwell
Order:  USA  Can
Perennial, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It is the year 1593. Elizabeth I is on the throne of England. Irish Pirate Grace O'Malley is secluded in Elizabeth's chambers for an off-the record talk. Grace pleads for the release of her son Tibbot from an English gaoler, and in so doing describes her life to that point. An unusual life for a woman in the 1500s.

In the past, Ireland was seen as a great treasure by the English who took steps to make it theirs. No matter that in so doing they were ruining a glorious country while killing, maiming and pauperizing its people. Elizabethan court intrigues were many and unbelievable. So many lives were disrupted if not judiciously ended on a mere whim from a jealous queen - including her own favorites at court and in her bed. The ancient Brehon laws, laws that had governed Ireland for a thousand years, went unheeded by the English and their ruler. Strangely enough, looking after their own welfare, many of the chieftains in the 1500s pledged their support to their invaders.

That is not to say that Ireland was a strife free country. Feuding and raiding among their own clans was not uncommon. The Wild Irish is a work of fiction about an historical period in Ireland's past when the English took over the island country, abounding in tradition, education and beauty. It goes a long way to making clear the troubles that have plagued that lovely green land.

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