Anna Parnell honoured with blue plaque in Dublin city centre

Founder of the Ladies' Land League died 110 years to the day

Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr Alison Gilliland unveils a plaque on O’Connell Street in memory of Anna Parnell. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

After her death by drowning 110 years ago, Anna Parnell has been honoured with a blue plaque in Dublin city centre.

The memorial is located on the Allied Irish Bank wall at the top of O’Connell Street, within sight of the statue and square named after her more illustrious sibling – Charles Stuart Parnell.

The site was the location of the Ladies Land League which was founded by Anna and her sister Fanny in 1881.

There are 35 blue plaques which have been erected in honour of various luminaries in Dublin city centre since the scheme started in 2014. But only four of these memorialise women.

That situation which will have to be corrected, said Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Alison Gilliland. She contrasted the attention that historians have given to Charles Stuart Parnell with the neglect of Anna, who was buried in an unmarked grave following her death in Ilfracombe, Devon, on September 20th, 1911, aged 59.

“I am particularly pleased that today we are unveiling a plaque to a woman who has been, for far too long, overshadowed by her brother. Her life and work is not as well remembered as it should be,” she said. “We didn’t hear of Anna in our history book despite the tumultuous events of the 19th century.”

Just seven people attended Anna Parnell’s funeral in 1911. In 2018, her grave was renovated with support from the Department of Heritage.

Could remains be repatriated?

Cllr Gilliland said she hopes to unveil two further plaques to significant women during her year in office. They will be to Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen who founded St Ultan’s children’s hospital and were partners in life.

Academic Margaret Ward and former teacher Lucy Keaveney have suggested that Anna Parnell’s remains be repatriated and buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Dr Ward recounted how Parnell was the first woman to lead an organisation of Irish women and that the Ladies Land League stepped into the breach when the male leaders were imprisoned.

There was much scepticism that women could be trusted with Land League affairs. But the men involved “reckoned without the formidable talents of Anna Parnell who was the right woman in the right place and at the right time in Irish history to demonstrate the hitherto untapped capabilities of women”.