(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, commander of the
U.S. Frigate Constitution. Fanny was a child of the Protestant
ascendancy. Her American-born mother was fiercely anti-English and
passed a lot of that sentiment on to her children. Fanny brother,
Charles Stewart Parnell, was the leader of the Home Rule movement
and president of the National Land League.
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
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
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.
Hold the Harvest
Now are you men or cattle then, you
tillers of the soil?
Would you be free, or evermore in rich
men's service toil?
The shadow of the dial hangs dark that
points the fatal hour
Now hold your own! Or, branded slaves,
forever cringe and cower! -
The serpent's curse upon you lies - you
writhe within the dust
You fill your mouths with beggars'
swill, you grovel for a crust
Your masters set their blood-stained
heels upon your shameful heads
Yet they are kind - they leave you
still their ditches for your beds! -
Oh by the God who made us all, the
master and the serf
Rise up and swear to hold this day your
own green Irish turf!
Rise up! And plant your feet as men
where now you crawl as slaves
And make your harvest fields your
camps, or make of them your graves! -
But God is on the peasant's side, the
God that loves the poor,
His angels stand with flaming swords on
every mount and moor,
They guard the poor man's flocks and
herds, they guard his ripening grain,
The robber sinks beneath their curse
beside his ill-got gain.
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.
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
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
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
Tomás Ó Coısdealha
cemetery AND grave location
NAME: Mt. Auburn
PHONE NO. (617) 547-7105
ADDRESS: 580 Mt. Auburn Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138
GRAVE LOCATION: N/A
HEADSTONE AND INSCRIPTION
Back to Biographies Posted 11/15/08