Now, if you are curious as to why I say this is “fitting” allow me to wax historical for a moment. If you look back around the time of the Golden Age of Piracy, you find that England strove mightily to keep the people of both Ireland and Scotland under its boot through oppressive laws, a legal system that favored the English and even outright thuggery. The resulting conditions in both subjugated countries provided a fertile environment for men and women to be drawn to lawless pursuits such as piracy.
“Oh, Mrs. McGraw,” the captain said,
“would you like to make a pirate out of your son, Ted?
With a scarlet cloak and a fine cocked hat,
Oh, Mrs. McGraw wouldn’t you like that?”
Traditional Sea Shanty of Irish Origin
Most of the Irish pirates gained little notoriety, but there were some that did. One such pirate was Grace O’Malley, who in the 1500’s brought here clan out of poverty through piracy. “The Hen” as she became known, used a fleet of oar driven galley ships to plunder the seas outside the important seaport of Galway. So effective where her exploits that the English diverted forces from its war with Spain and France to protect their “home waters.”
To describe another notable Irish pirate I will call upon PDXYAR’s own Master Historian:
“Irishman Edward Seegar was known in the pirate world as Edward England. He was a pirate who joined forces with Captains Le Bouche and Taylor and plundered around the Cape of Good Hope capturing over a dozen vessels, including the Royal James, and the 34 gun Fancy. His career as captain ended when, because of an act of kindness (we all know the Irish are a kind folk), he was removed from the position of captain and marooned. In early, 1721 he was reduced to begging and living off the kindness of strangers. A broken man, he died not long afterward in Madagascar.”
Master Robert “Cockroach” Blair
How about just one more vaguely important act of piracy. In his excellent work, “How the Irish Saved Civilization” Thomas Cahill, lays out his case for how Europe was able to climb out of the Dark Ages because Ireland had been a storehouse for learning and a repository for books. The reason for this remote island to have become so rich in knowledge was the introduction of Christianity by the patron Saint of Ireland, Patrick. Patrick was not from Ireland though. He was born the son of a Deacon in Wales, but was taken in a raid by Irish pirates and brought back to Ireland to become a slave. After six years of tending sheep, and talking with God, Patrick escaped Ireland only to return some years later to spread the Word and to ignite a passion for books and learning in the people of Ireland.
Thus, if we follow this argument, had Patrick not been taken by pirates he would have never have brought Christianity, and learning, to Ireland. If the Irish had not been so taken with knowledge Europe would not have emerged from the Dark Ages as it did. There would have been no Renaissance and the world would not be the place it is today.
In effect, one could make the claim that Irish Pirates saved Western Civilization.
Is it fitting that we should end the week of International Talk Like a Pirate Day with a raid on an Irish Pub? Yeah, I think so.
So, join the crew of PDXYAR as we descend upon Maher’s Irish Pub for an evening of celebration, shanties, piratical fun and Guinness! We shall make port this Friday, September 23. If weather is glorious, we’re be there from 7 until 9pm on the patio, if weather is less stellar, we be inside from 9 until 11pm.
What: PDXYAR Invades Maher’s Irish Pub
When: Friday, September 23 from 7:00pm -9:00pm (with Fair Seas) 9 -11pm (in foul weather)
Where: Maher’s Irish Pub- 352 B Ave, Lake Oswego OR 97034