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