September 19 marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy) of Oregon, USA. Dress like a pirate, invent your pirate name and greet your friends with “Ahoy matey” to celebrate!
The idea was born during a racquetball game between Summers and Baur. One of them reacted with an outburst of “Aaarrr!” and the rest is history! The friends then sent the idea of the invented holiday to Dave Barry, American syndicated humor columnist in 2002. Barry liked the idea and began promoting the day. Growing media coverage of Barry’s column allowed for the day to be celebrated internationally.
Anne Bonney was born Anne McCormac in Kinsale, Co. Cork around 1700. Her family soon moved to the Caribbean. It was here that she married small-time pirate and general ne’er-do-well, James Bonney, against her father’s wishes. The two eloped to New Providence in the Bahamas which was known to be a sanctuary for English pirates called the Republic of Pirates. She soon met the famous pirate, Calico Jack, who would become her lover and pirating partner. The pair enjoyed success, capturing many, albeit smaller, vessels and bringing in abundant treasure. Eventually, Mary Read joined their crew becoming a close friend of Anne’s and the rest, as they say, is history.
Gráinne Mhaol / Grace O’Malley
Born in 1530 to a chieftain and sea trader, Grace O’Malley became renowned as Gráinne Mhaol (trans. Gráinne the Bald) The Pirate Queen. As the legend goes, Gráinne was prohibited from going on a trading voyage with her father due to her long locks which her father warned would catch in the ropes. This made her very angry, so she decided to cut off all her hair! Gráinne took to the sea-faring life and made a career island-hopping along the Irish west coast. Her fleet raided many English ships and she ultimately accumulated a vast wealth. The English army tried to stop her, but following a visit to Queen Elizabeth I in London (where both ladies conversed in Latin!) these armies were recalled and O’Malley’s family were released from captivity.
“Blackbeard” a notorious English pirate was one of the most successful and widely-feared pirates of his time. He commanded four ships around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain’s North American colonies with a pirate army of 300. Teach captured a French merchant vessel, renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge and brought on 40 guns. “Blackbeard” was derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance. He was known for clutching two swords and had several knives and pistols ready at hand. It is said that he had many unofficial wives but was officially married to a 16 year old girl. After a fierce battle he was overtaken by the Royal Navy and beheaded.
William Kidd was a Scotsman, leading citizen of New York City and involved in the building of Trinity Church. Captain Kidd began his career as a privateer and was commissioned to rid the seas of pirates. He was elected pirate captain by his crew. He attacked an East India Company vessel and buried some treasures on Gardiners Island. Later he was captured in Boston along with his wife and sent to England for trial. He was sentenced to death and suffered brutal execution. After he was killed on the third hanging, his body was covered in tar and hung by chains along the Thames River.