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Where Research May Lead You

Research is an important part of being an historic reenactor. But it has side effects: it can lead to more questions and in extreme cases can have you traveling to foreign shores.

Reenactors are history geeks.  They’ll read every book (both fiction and non-fiction) and watch every movie that takes place in their time period.  And of course they spend time on the internet to further their research. We research because we have an unquenchable desire to learn about our time period.  Some research to make more accurate clothing, or to add to a period correct recipe collection.  Singers will look for more songs, bards for more stories to recite.

There’s also the delightful surprise of discovering something either totally new or unexpected.

Be forewarned that doing research can lead you to adventures both intellectual and physical.

I was web surfing a few years back doing research on medieval Ireland.  For some reason one of the hits was the County Mayo’s Tourist Board website.

Although the exact wording is lost to history, the description of the website had the words home of Grace O’Malley, pirate queen, medieval Ireland.

I do remember thinking, “A female pirate, how cool is that?” so I clicked on the link.  The website gave little information on the pirate queen, so naturally I searched the web for Grace O’Malley.  Fascinating  woman that Grace.  She commanded over 200 men, had defeated the English in a couple of battles, and had the audacity to sail to England to meet with Queen Elizabeth I.  Many websites quoted  Anne Chambers’ book, Ireland’s  Pirate Queen The True Story of Grace O’Malley.  I set my course for the bookstore to get a copy.

After I read the book, I questioned why in all my reading of Irish history did I not come across Grace before?  Why is she not considered a national hero in Ireland?

These two questions formed the basis for my graduate thesis.  Five grueling months I spent researching Grace and her times and how Irish national heroes are created.   I swear I would have had an easier time serving under her command on one of her ships.

You would think that would be enough?  Nooo.  So I’m off to Co. Mayo to visit Clare Island and hopefully a few more of Grace’s strongholds. 

And all because I wanted a little info on Ireland in the middle ages….

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The Mommy's Guide! June 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
How Interesting! I am definitely going to have to give her a look, good luck on your thesis! You going to the pirate on the Hudson festival in July? Lol
Frances Avnet June 14, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Ahoy Maureen, Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry I didn't acknowledged it sooner but I was in Ireland visiting sites associated with Grace. I'll be at the Pirate Festival this weekend at the Maritime Museum in West Sayville with Ye Pyrate Brotherhood.

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