Archive for October 14th, 2009

Book Review: Petticoat Rebellion: the Anna Parnell story by Patricia Groves

14 October 2009

By Myles Dungan

PetticoatRebellionShe was portrayed as the wilful extremist to her brother’s canny pragmatist, the strident harpy to her sister’s gentle poet. For many years it was the fate of Anna Parnell to be compared unfavourably to her tragically short-lived brother and sister, Charles and Fanny. In fact she was, according to Roy Foster, ‘in many ways . . . the most formidable character in the family’. Anna Parnell was principled, resourceful, dogged and, ultimately, disappointed and disillusioned by those who had been happy to capitalise on her indefatigable energy and organisational abilities.

In 1881 she was prevailed upon to organise the Ladies Land League (LLL) in Ireland. She took on the task with some reluctance. After the proscription by the Gladstone government of the Land League in 1881 the LLL, financed by Land League funds mostly channelled from the USA via Paris, took on the task of supporting hundreds of prisoners jailed without trial under English coercion legislation and  It was also left in the invidious position of having to honour political cheques signed by the Land League leadership when the ‘No Rent Manifesto’ was issued after the incarceration of Parnell, Dillon and (separately) Davitt. This task included the erection of wooden huts on the farms of evictees whose dwellings had been destroyed by bailiffs and police.

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