A: There’s no doubt about it, if you’re looking to pick one buccaneer who did more for pirate feminism than any other, it’d have to be Grace O’Malley (born Gráinne O’Malley), the 16th-century’s Irish Sea Queen.
Earning her sea legs as a kid on voyages with her father, O’Malley went on to lead a crew of 200 sailors as part of her Celtic Sea “protection service.” Her specialty? Intercepting merchant ships to negotiate their safe passage to Galway and ruthlessly pillaging any “uninterested customers.”
Infamous for being lewd, gambling too much, and cussing like — well — a sailor, O’Malley truly proved her mettle when she gave birth mid-voyage. (Working mothers take note: she also had three kids at home.) Soon after labor, Turkish pirates attacked the ship, and when the flailing crew came running to O’Malley, she reportedly snapped, “May you be seven times worse off this day 12 month, who cannot do without me for one day!” When the postpartum firebrand finally emerged on deck waving her gun, the attackers quickly remembered they had other engagements.