10. The Mhailles Dominated the Seas Around Their Seat of Power
Grainne Ni Mhaille was born and raised in Connaught, in western Ireland. She belonged to what those in the English Pale of Settlement viewed as a “wild Irish” hinterland, that was made up of numerous autonomous territories. Its rulers and inhabitants frequently feuded, raided each other, rustled cattle, captured and lost castles and strongholds, and otherwise vied for advantage and dominance, and lusted after the exaction of vengeance upon their foes. All were part of a clientele system, in which the weak aligned with the strong, offering tribute in exchange for protection.
Grainne’s family, the Mhailles, were a clan of hinterland Irish nobility who lorded it over clients, who looked to them for protection in exchange for paying tribute. The Mhailles were, in turn, the clients of another and even more powerful hinterland Irish clan. They traded produce and raw materials for luxury good, fished, ferried passengers, levied tolls on shipping passing through their waters, and engaged in opportunistic piracy. For protection, the Mhailles built a row of castles facing the sea.