Dubbed 'The Irish Evita', Eliza Lynch was the most famous woman in South America in the 19th Century – but she has been largely forgotten in Ireland.
However, that is set to change thanks to a new film about 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 former diplomat Michael Lillis and historian Ronan Fanning.
Lynch was born in Cork in 1833 and as a beautiful 16-year-old married a French army surgeon. That marriage failed and four years later as a high society courtesan in Paris she caught the eye of Francisco Lopez, who was buying arms in the city for his father, the dictator of Paraguay.
Francisco took her back to Paraguay where she bore him seven children, though they never married. Eliza and Francisco's great love was damned with the outbreak in 1864 of the six-year Triple Alliance war. That saw 90pc of the male population of Paraguay perish (including Francisco and one of the couple's sons).
Eliza endured incredible hardship and died in lonely circumstances back in Paris in 1886. Her great grandson, Miguel Angel Solano Lopez, was at last night's film premiere and has just been named as Paraguay's next Ambassador to Ireland.