Legend of the White Seahorse

White Sea HorsesIn old seafarers’ lore, white crested waves frothing with foam were said to be white seahorses riding on the surface for all to see, perchance carrying Poseidon’s forces. Under the conditions when the waves raised these creatures out of the sea, performance of a ship and its crew had to be at its peak as they were fully tested by the elements.

It was such a strong image that the O’Malley clan in the west of Ireland, from their seafaring stronghold in Clew Bay in today’s County Mayo, adopted a white sea horse as the symbol of their prowess in the often challenging waters of the Atlantic. With it, they infused their clan with strength on land and sea: Terra Marique Potens. Perhaps Manannan mac Lir, the mischievous Celtic god, protected them. The most popular deity in Irish mythology, Manannan is lord of the sea beyond which the Land of Youth or Isles of the Dead lie. He is a master of tricks and illusions; he owns a magical boat, OceanSweeper; an enchanted sword, Fragarach; and the magical steed, Aonbarr. We, too, ask for his protection.

Perhaps our favorite ancestor is my personal heroine, Granuaile, or Grace O’Malley, the infamous 16th century female chieftain and privateer who sailed up the Thames to negotiate with Queen Elizabeth. She learned to sail by cutting her hair short as a boy's and stowing away onboard her father's ship. Her stronghold was on Clare Island in Clew Bay, and she commanded ships, lands, castles, and men, and was said to ride a white horse on land and flew the white seahorse flag at sea aboard her vessel, Moytura. It is Granuaile who inspired our corporate identity. She was strong and just, and a respected leader when one was needed most.

In tribute to Grace and in memory of Major M. Joseph O’Malley Blackwell, we named our company White Seahorse, Inc. and we fly the white seahorse flag aboard s/v Aleria as our personal signal. It is an adaptation of the flying horse inscribed on the walls at Clare Island. We intend to carry on the tradition of strength on land and sea with exceptional service to the sailing communities of this world. May the white sea horses carry us all safely to our destinations.

To learn more about the O’Malley Clan or Ireland’s Wild West Coast, try these links:

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White Seahorse (Reg. in Ireland, #444071) is a division of Knowledge Clinic Ltd.
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