Eliza Lynch, the ‘Queen of Paraguay,’ is honored each year in her native Charleville in Cork.
Lynch was born in Charleville in 1833 to John and Elizabeth (nee Lloyd) Lynch. Her father was in the medical profession and moved in the upper echelons of society.
Lynch was the lover of the 19th-century Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano Lopez and the mother of his seven children.
She also became a national heroine in her adopted country. She fought alongside Lopez during the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) in which Paraguay was fighting against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
Lopez and the couple’s eldest son were both killed in the war in 1870. Lynch buried them in the jungle with her bare hands.
In 2009, Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning published ‘The Lives of Eliza Lynch— Scandal & Courage’ which revealed Eliza’s Irish origins and her marriage at the age of 16 to a duplicitous French Army officer. In the book, they reconstructed the systematic invention of her image as a prostitute around her first meeting with Solano Lopez, which occurred in Paris in 1854, the Irish Independent reports.
The commemorative weekend included a seminar on her life by Lillis and Fanning and a screening of a film about her starring Maria Doyle Kennedy.
In 2013, Lynch’s great-grandson, His Excellency Miguel Angel Solano Lopez, the ambassador of Paraguay to Ireland, visited Charleville to visit her birthplace.
*Originally published in August 2014.