Irish Treasures | New Jewellery Collection Honours Pirate Queen

Irish jewellery designer Jennifer Kinnear draws on the spirit of a fierce and fearless 16th century pirate queen in her new collection for 2019: Granuaile – the Irish Sea Queen.

Granuaile lived from 1530 to 1603. At 16, she was forced into a marriage of convenience with Dónal an Chogaidh, the wealthy heir of a neighbouring clan. They had three children together. When an Chogaidh was killed in battle, Granuaile inherited his castle and raised the children on her own. Her father was Chieftain of the Ó Mháille clan and upon his death, she took over his title along with his ships and sailors. Feisty and fearless, Granuaile commanded respect and loyalty from her men.

Now a powerful pirate queen, Granuaile increased her wealth by demanding taxes and goods from ships sailing around Ireland, Scotland and even the dangerous waters of Spain. Ever the tactician, she then married Risdeárd an Iarainn, the 18th Lord of Mac William Lochtar, but soon divorced him under Brehon law. She seized his property. Yet, despite kicking him out of his castle, Granuaile used her wile and cunning to remain allies with an Iarainn.

By the late 1500s, as England sought increasing power over Ireland, relationships between the English aristocracy and the rebellious Granuaile had soured. Lord Richard Bingham killed her eldest son and imprisoned the other two. The Irish sea queen sailed up the Thames and demanded a meeting with Queen Elizabeth. By the fireside, Grainne worked her charms on Elizabeth, another powerful woman. Ultimately, she secured her two sons’ release and lived out her days on the sea – privateering and pirating without interference.

Kinnear imaginatively tells Granuaile’s story through beautifully crafted gold and silver pendants, rings and earrings.  The collection includes a compass, shipwheel and star pendant necklace; an octopus tentacle necklace and earrings; a medallion necklace depicting Granuaile and Queen Elizabeth’s famous fireside encounter; large stone rings set with citrine that look as if they were forged in the 15th century; and pearl and bow necklaces, earrings and bracelets based on treasure the pirate queen may have found along her travels.

Well known in the fashion industry for creating eye-catching, must-have accessories for every budget, Kinnear speaking about her collection says: “My work has always been inspired by the sea and I grew up sailing boats in Ireland, so this collection is a perfect fit for me. To this day, many women continue to show courage and defiance against all the odds, just like Granuaile. I love her and I think you will too.”

Kinnear’s work is stocked in jewellers across Ireland including The Jewellery Collective in Dublin and can also be purchased online at Prices for her latest collection start at €75/350.

For more information, contact Kinnear via email at [email protected] or phone 0034679281537 or 00353872485717.

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