Frances Isabelle Parnell  (1848-1882

Frances (Fanny) Isabelle Parnell was born in Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland on September 4, 1848 the second of four daughters and three sons to John Henry Parnell and Delia Tudor Stewart, the American-born daughter of Admiral Charles Stewart. Delia, Fanny mother, was fiercely anti-English a trait she inherited her father's side of the family.

Charles Stewart, Delia father, was commissioned a lieutenant in the U. S. navy in March 1798. He first assignment was aboard the  frigate United States, as fourth lieutenant under the command of  John Barry.  During his long and distinguished carrier, Stewart, served in the Quasi-War with France, in both the Barbary wars in the Mediterranean and in the War of 1812 with Britain. He retired in 1863 after 63 years of service. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1862.

Delia grandfather, Tudor, fought the English in the War of Independence. 

On the other hand, Fanny's father linage was deeply rooted in the protestant Ascendancy. , nonetheless, her mother was no restrained in her loathing of the English. Her  a  mother was fiercely anti-English and passed a lot of that sentiment on her children, especially Fanny and Anna.

By age of fifteen Fanny was somewhat of an accomplished poet who was contributing poems to the Fenian's Irish People newspaper  founded in 1863 by John O'Leary and others. When the newspaper was suppressed by the British overseers in 1865 she contributed articles and poems to the Nation and United Irishman newspapers.  

After the end of the Civil War in America many of its Irish-born veterans returned to Ireland to take part in the planned Fenian Rising of 1867. Amongst those who fell on hard times, some of whom were spongers, made their way to the Parnell residence in Upper Temple Street in Dublin where they received food and, oftentimes, money from Fanny's mother Della. 

In 1859, following the death of her father, Fanny moved  with her family to Dalkey and in 1860 moved from  there to Dublin. Fanny took a great interest in Irish politics and attended the trials of the Fenians. In 1864, under the pen name Aleria' she began publishing her poetry in the 'Irish People' in Dublin, the newspaper of the Fenian Brotherhood.

In 1865 she moved with her mother to Paris and then in 1874 to Bordentown in New Jersey, While in Paris she cared for wounded soldiers in the three month long Siege of Paris.

In 1880 Fanny founded the Ladies' Land League to raise money in America for the Land League in Ireland.  A pamphlet, 'The Hovels of Ireland' (1880), and a collection of poems, 'Land League Songs' (1882), were widely published. Her best known poem  'Hold the Harvest',  was described by Michael Davitt,  leader of the Land League, as the "Marseillaise of the Irish peasant". Most of her work was published in the Boston Pilot, the leading Irish newspaper of the 19th century in America.

Little is known of the amount of work that Fanny and Anna, her sister, put into the running of the Land League Committee. It was Fanny, known as the Patriot Poet,  who appealed to Irish-American women to form an relief fund to help the Land League in Ireland.  Anne, who was the more radical by far, was responsible for all the funds collected. She acknowledged every contribution and saw to it that the money went to the right quarter. The $60,000, or so, collected by the relief fund came from poor Irish immigrants in cities around America. The money went a long way in averted another famine in Ireland in 1879 and 1880.

Following her return to Dublin in 1880, Anne founded the Ladies Land League, which became a formidable force. When Michael Davitt, Charles Stewart Parnell and other Land League leaders were imprisoned in 1881 the Ladies' Land League took over their work. Other than an office in Dublin very little else was provided in the line of help or instructions.  Nonetheless, the women were not daunted by the task at hand, proceeding to hold public meetings encouraging  tenants  to withhold rent, resist evictions and boycott landlords. They raised funds to support prisoners and their families and built wooden huts to shelter evicted tenant families. By 1882 they had five hundred branches, thousands of women members and considerable publicity. Their meetings were frequently broken up by police.  Thirteen of their members were imprisoned - not as political prisoners like the men but as common criminals. Considered the first modern Irish female agitator, Anne became estranged from her brother after he withdrew support for her movement.

The Parnell women were indeed in the forefront of the Women’s Liberation movement and were passionate advocates for human rights. Together with the thousands of other women activists they showed how the women of Ireland could be just as tough as  men when the need arose.

Fanny Parnell died on July 20, 1882 at age 34 in Bordentown, New Jersey. Her body was taken by train to Boston. The casket bearing her remains was open for family and friends to view at Tudor home on Beacon Hill before being buried at the Tudor family plot at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.

On April 11, 2001, the Parnell Society of Dublin placed a granite marker at the grave site, honoring Ms. Parnell's role as a patriot and poet of Ireland.

Contributed by;  Tomás Ó Coısdealha

cemetery AND grave location

NAME:    Mt. Auburn Cemetery                                                        PHONE NO.   (617) 547-7105

ADDRESS:    580 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138




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