Queen Elizabeth I probably conversed in Gaelic with Grace O'Malley

I apologise if I appear pedantic, in bringing a correction to Sandra Chapman's most interesting article ('˜Could Irish language issue be solved with a look at history', July 1).

Ms Chapman implies that Grace O’Malley and Queen Elizabeth 1 parleyed, perforce, through the medium of Latin.

While it is, perhaps, a possibility that both ladies understood Latin (which was the Lingua Franca of the educated in Europe at the time), it is more likely that they would have conversed in Gaelic.

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Queen Elizabeth 1 was an accomplished and remarkable linguist and, among her many languages, she was fluent in Gaelic. (I don’t know if Grace O’Malley spoke English). I understand that the beautiful Gaelic script adopted and used (until quite recently) since the time of Elizabeth 1 was due to the Virgin Queen’s interest in the Irish language.

Incidentally, Elizabeth 1 commissioned an Irish language grammar for her own use.

(I should point out that Latin was an important early British language; it was introduced following the Roman Empire’s conquest of Britain. The later Latin offshoot, French, was also widely disseminated in Britain following the Norman conquest).

It is a bit rich of Ms Chapman to chide Grace O’Malley for practicing piracy.

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The English of that period needed no lessons from Grace O’Malley, or anyone else for that matter, in the dark art of piracy; for instance, I understand, one of the Virgin Queen’s favourites, Sir Walter Raleigh, was executed for piracy.

Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh

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