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'Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay', based on a book by Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning, to receive its premier at JDIFF


19-02-2014 10:30

Forgotten Cork heroine remembered in new film, premiering this Thursday at JDIFF, and based on the book, ’Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay’.


Cork born Eliza Lynch was the most famous woman in all of South America in the nineteenth century, yet her story is little-known in Ireland. That is set to change this week with the premier of a new film based on her life. Directed by Alan Gilsenan and starring Maria Doyle-Kennedy, it is based on the book ’The Lives of Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay’ by Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning.

Lynch was the life companion of the leader of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López. Although Eliza and López never married they had seven children together. Hated by the elite class but loved by the ordinary women of the country, they saw her as the queen of Paraguay and she was adored and admired for her glamour and sophistication.

Eliza and Francisco’s love was damned with the outbreak of the infamous War of the Triple Alliance (1864–70). It was the bloodiest in South America’s history and 90% of the male population perished, (including López and one of the couple’s sons). Eliza endured incredible hardship and misery as a result of the war but survived and went on to become Paraguay’s national heroine.

Just last week in the report of l’Osservatore Romano (the official Vatican daily) Pope Francis proposed that the Nobel Prize should be accorded posthumously to the Paraguayan Woman who lived through the War of the Triple Alliance, among them Eliza Lynch. In the wake of the disastrous war, it was they who preserved their fatherland, their language, their culture, the survival of future generations and Paraguay’s independence.

In a strange twist of fate, Eliza’s great grandson, Miguel Ángle Solano López, is set to reconnect with his Irish roots as he has just been named as Paraguay’s Ambassador Designate to Ireland. He will be in attendance at the premier of ’Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay’ this Thursday night at the Hugh Lane Gallery and Savoy Cinema.


In the book, and now film, Eliza Lynch is revealed as a woman who showed extraordinary courage in the face a series of unspeakable horrors. She is restored her rightful place among the most remarkable and brave women in modern history.

About the Authors

Michael Lillis is a former diplomat who played a leading role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement on Northern Ireland of 1985. For the past two decades he has pursued business interests in South America.

Ronan Fanning is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and Professor Emeritus of Modern History at University College Dublin. Among his books are ’The Definitive History of the Irish Department of Finance’ and ’Fatal Path: British Government and Irish Revolution 1919–1922’, which was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award. He is also one of the chief editors of the ’Dictionary of Irish Biography’.

To coincide with premier at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival of ’Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay’, a new edition of the book of the same title by Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning will be in shops this week, priced at €14.99. Also available as an eBook on Amazon.

 



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