The publication in 1986 of Anna Parnell’s The Tale of a Great Sham, scrupulously edited and annotated by Dana Hearne, was a landmark event in Irish women’s history. For the first time the general reader was able to read an account of the Land War written by the woman who at the time had been hailed as the Irish Joan of Arc.
Parnell’s own desire was that future generations would realise that she and her colleagues had “set a noble example to all the women of Ireland”. It was the only the legacy she hoped for.
How did this woman from the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, a product of the landed gentry, become a woman whose strategic and organisational skills would receive international acclaim?
In 1879, in response to the threat of famine following a succession of wet summers and poor harvests, a Land League was formed in Co Mayo. This was
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