Pirate Lore

Pirate Queen of Ireland

pirate queen

While the Leprechaun Pirate King leads our merry band of singing pirates, we all hold Granuaile the Pirate Queen of Ireland in the highest regard and reverence. What is more daring or more bold than a woman that leads her clan on the high seas? Family and fortune go hand in hand, especially among the Irish clans. Anne Chambers wrote the book on the Pirate Queen

For centuries the life of the iconic 16th century warrior leader by land and sea, Grainne Ni Mhaille (Grace O’Malley) or Granuaile, as she is more familiarly known in Ireland, was abandoned to the vagaries of myth, fiction and folklore (which nonetheless prevented her memory from total obliteration)…

Legends are not created about insignificant people. To be remembered in folk memory is as much a tribute and validation of her status as any academic treatise.

As to the factual evidence relating to Granuaile it was left to the English administrators and generals, who had come to conquer her country, to write her into historical record. And this is where I found her… From the swirls and flourishes of these sixteenth-century relics the story of Granuaile springs to life.

When a woman goes a pirating there is no going back. Grace O’Malley led her clan, and others, for decades and became a legend. She fought along side her men, and according to the timeline, in 1597 “At the ’great age’ of 67, Grace is recorded still actively leading her men by sea in a retaliatory attack on MacNeil of Barra off the Scottish coast.

Irish Pirate Queen or Leprechaun Pirate Princess

It does make me wonder what my own true royal status is in the Leprechaun Pirates. My brother is The Leprechaun Pirate King, so I am at least a Leprechaun Pirate Princess. Perhaps we will explore this in song in the coming weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on September 24 & 25 featuring Shamrocks & Shenanigans. It should be a great grand weekend with plenty of fun for those who enjoy Irish in their entertainment.

Sea Dogs – A Pirate Pet Fest

Pirating has gone to the dogs…and whatever other animal you can convince to wear a pirate costume. But this isn’t where the real Sea Dogs came from, you can thank Queen Elizabeth I for those.

Pirate Lore of the Sea Dogs

Once again we visit the Free Encyclopedia which offers up this true tale of pirates of the Caribbean:

The Sea Dogs were a group of sea-raiders authorized by Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Sea Dogs were also known as Elizabethan Pirates.[1]

The Sea Dogs were essentially a military branch that were authorized by the Queen to attack the Spanish fleet and loot their ships in order to bring back riches and treasure. The Sea Dogs were able to do this because they carried “Letters of Marque[2] which made their plundering of Spanish ships legal despite the countries not officially being at war with one another… By having a small fleet of ships that would sail around and pick off Spanish ships, risking their lives and own ships in the process, they were able to reduce the funds and size of the Spanish navy significantly. The Sea Dogs continued carrying out raids against the Spanish until 1604 when England and Spain made peace. After that, many of the Sea Dogs left England to continue pillaging off either the Barbary Coast or in the Caribbean.

Navy Lore of the Sea Dogs

But those weren’t the last Sea Dogs. In fact, the U.S. Navy is known for having dogs on board to build morale of the crew. Many ships had their mascots. It’s a tradition that has been maintained in the Coast Guard and Marines also. Dogs of all kinds have been kept and puppies have been born on board as well. My cold pirate heart was warmed with this tale about a dog that was adopted by the Coast Guard back in 1944:

“‘Smokey,’ the only living creature Coast Guardsman found aboard a tanker that burned following a collision with a sister ship off the Florida coast several months ago, has been promoted by her guardians, crew members of a Coast Guard fire boat at Port Everglades, Fla., to “Bones’ Mates, Second Class”, and issued an official identification card giving her occupation as “expert eater”. The card is signed with Smokey’s “X” (crossed bones) and is paw-printed. Eighty-eight lives were lost in the collision of the two tankers and ensuing fire,” 1944

You can find a picture Smokey’s ID card on the U.S. Naval Institute website. And there are many other engaging photos of sea dogs for an animal lover like myself to enjoy. It’s worth looking into.

Of course if what you want is to see dogs in costumes, you should come and see us at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival this weekend. September 17 & 18 for Pet Fest.

Pieces of Eight Steals the Show

Leprechaun Pirates Pieces of Eight

Join us in Shakopee Minnesota this weekend for the great grand Pieces of Eight CD release party! Three full days of fun and frolick with thousands of our dearest fans and friends will be a fair fine debut for our first EP. Sure an’ begorah the Leprechaun Pirates are boarding the Minnesota Renaissance Festival armed with our new CD and stealing the show.

Pieces of Eight Origins and Pirate Lore

Here’s a bit about the lore about pirates and pieces of eight from The Wiki Pirate Library

“The real de a ocho, also known as the Spanish dollar, the eight-real coin, or the piece of eight (Spanish peso de ocho), is a silver coin, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after 1598. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler…

…Long tied to the lore of piracy, “pieces of eight” were manufactured in the Americas and transported in bulk back to Spain, making them a very tempting target for seagoing pirates. The Manila galleons transported Mexican silver to Manila in the Spanish Philippines, where it would be exchanged for Philippine and Chinese goods, since silver was the only foreign commodity China would accept. In Oriental trade, Spanish dollars were often stamped with Chinese characters known as “chop marks” which indicated that particular coin had been assayed by a well-known merchant and determined to be genuine. The specifications of the Spanish dollar became a standard for trade in the Far East, with later Western powers issuing trade dollars, and colonial currencies such as the Hong Kong dollar, to the same specifications.”

The Leprechaun Pirates Pieces of Eight CD

The Leprechaun Pirates Pieces of Eight CD

The album features eight of our favorite songs, and will be available for sale at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival this weekend for ten pieces of eight each. All the songs on the CD are original or traditional or a combination thereof. We are locked and loaded and will call no quarter. Our motto for this weekend is “Take all ye can, give nothin’ back. Arrrgh Begorah Gold Doubloons!”

Fun Fact: The Leprechaun Pirate King wears a piece of eight as a charm, which he found as a wee lad when digging for buried treasure.

Arrrgh Begorah Adventure Awaits

life is an adventure Arrrgh Begorah

The pirates be seeking new Adventures this weekend, Arrrgh Begorah! The sweet trade calls to us in stories and songs, the sound of the rushing wind and the sight of land upon the horizon promise a full belly and a full treasure chest. Land Ho! It be time to go to shore and trade some songs for pieces of eight. It’s what every Leprechaun Pirate dreams of, sweet fine dreams of gold and jewels.

Sing a Song Arrrgh Begorah

I left my chores, my house and home
In search of treasure on the sea
No digging dirt out on the farm,
my spirit wanted to sail free.
Yo Ho and a bottle of Rum…
~ from “A Pirates Lullaby” by Beth Hansen-Buth

Being a musician on a pirate ship is an essential job, so is keeping up the morale of the crew between prizes. It can also be a bit of a chore, as any crew member can request a tune, and even roust the musician out of bed. So in some ways we are the hardest working members of a pirate ship. Still, it’s a job that needs doing, and it’s better than swabbing the deck. We can also pick up a little honest money when we go to shore at the local tavern or even street corner. Everyone loves a good tune and adventure on the high seas.

The Leprechaun Pirates will again be going on shore leave, this time for three full days of fun and frolic and pirates are especially welcome at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on September 3, 4 & 5 • Passport to Adventure! So put on your favorite pirate gear and join us for a weekend of fun and feasting.

Gather your crew for your next adventure by spreading the word, just click on a gold doubloon below Arrrgh Begorah!

Kitten Superstition

Kitten Superstition

As pirates, we do love our kittens. Having a cat or three on board helps keep the rats out of the apple barrel, so to speak. They are also lucky to have in your homes, but beware of one falling overboard! The Leprechaun Pirates often practice with their patron cat, named Kit, a beautiful and adventurous black boy who adopted our drummer a while back.

Kitten Superstition on the High Seas

As our own Dread Pirate Morgaine can attest, having cats on board a Pirate Ship is sure to bring good luck. She has sailed the information seas to find this entry in Wiki

Cats were believed to have miraculous powers that could protect ships from dangerous weather. Sometimes, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea. It was believed to be lucky if a cat approached a sailor on deck, but unlucky if it only came halfway, and then retreated.

Another popular belief was that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails. If a ship’s cat fell or was thrown overboard, it was thought that it would summon a terrible storm to sink the ship and that if the ship was able to survive, it would be cursed with nine years of bad luck. Other beliefs included: if a cat licked its fur against the grain, it meant a hailstorm was coming; if it sneezed it meant rain; and if it was frisky it meant wind.

British and Irish sailors considered adopting a black “ship’s cat” because it would bring good luck. Cats eat rodents, which can damage ropes and stores of grain on board, and they are intelligent animals, so a high level of care was directed toward them to keep them happy. A ship’s cat would also create a sense of home and security to sailors who could be away from home for a long time.

What’s In Your Sporran?

We Leprechaun Pirates have an assortment of other cats as well. Five official cats in all add to the luck they bring us on each journey. Clearly we need to write a song about our lucky cats. While we don’t normally keep them in our sporran, we recommend that everyone coming to the Highland Fling this weekend bring their sporran and fill it up with goodies to bring home. And while pirates as a rule don’t wear kilts, you can wear yours and join in the kilt competition. We are continuing our quest to lift the curse that turned us into Leprechauns, so please come and share what ever luck you have with us. We would love to hear your tales of and cat or kitten superstition you ascribe to as well.

Feel free to share our lore about pirates and kitten superstition on the high seas by clicking on a gold doubloon below.