Ire­land’s Pi­rate Trail: A Quest to Un­cover Our Swash­buck­ling Past

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - REVIEWS - Nicola Mor­ris is the co-founder and direc­tor of the Ir­ish ge­neal­ogy com­pany Time­line ( time­line.ie). Don’t miss her fea­ture about find­ing your Ir­ish an­ces­tors on page 28

by Des Ekin The O’Brien Press, 368 pages, £14.99

His­tor­i­cally, the Ir­ish have al­ways punched above their weight on the in­ter­na­tional stage, and as pi­rates, it would seem, we were no dif­fer­ent. Des Ekin’s lat­est book delves into the his­tory of the Ir­ish pi­rates who ter­rorised the seas around these is­lands.

Ekin blends his­tor­i­cal fact with an easy nar­ra­tive style and a smat­ter­ing of pi­rate puns for an en­ter­tain­ing and in­for­ma­tive read. The sto­ries range from three Dublin pi­rates em­ployed by Ben­jamin Franklin to cap­ture English­men, to the truth about the pi­rate queen Grace O’Mal­ley. Ekin also tells of Ir­ish pi­rates who may have been the inspiration for char­ac­ters like Long John Sil­ver and Zorro.

That Ekin man­aged to gather well over 300 pages of sto­ries was sur­pris­ing. But the re­search is ex­ten­sive, although gaps in the his­tor­i­cal record are bridged by spec­u­la­tion. Many of his char­ac­ters lived too early for most fam­ily his­to­ri­ans to be able to doc­u­ment a re­la­tion­ship to a renowned pi­rate, but his in­sight into the mar­itime world of cen­turies past is fas­ci­nat­ing.

Ap­pended with an ex­ten­sive bib­li­og­ra­phy, this pub­li­ca­tion will be of value to re­searchers. Even if mar­itime his­tory is not your cup of tea, Ekin’s pi­rate sto­ries are hair-rais­ing, amus­ing and ex­cit­ing.

A mother and daugh­ter plead for mercy dur­ing a mutiny on the Earl of Sand­wich in 1765

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