Saturday 24 February 2018

Heroine's story to hit TV screens

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Her life is one of the most extraordinary tales of modern times and now -- thanks to two Irish historians -- the story of Eliza Lynch, the Irish mistress of the president of Paraguay, is set to become an international TV series.

Based on the book by Irish scholars Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning, Scandal and Courage: the Lives of Eliza Lynch will be filmed in Paraguay and directed by Optimum, the production company whose films have won several Oscars.

Eliza's life is as captivating as it was tragic. Originally from Co Cork, she and her family suffered in the Famine and emigrated to France. There, after many trials, she met Francisco Solano Lopez (who was the president of Paraguay from 1862-1870) and they fell in love.

The couple moved to Paraguay where she bore Lopez six children. It was there that Eliza came to cherish the country, where she was adored by the ordinary people.

She brought many enduring contributions to Para-guayan culture: in architecture; in drama; in music; in dance; in fashion; and in literature. But she is best remembered for her loyalty to the Paraguayan cause.

She followed Lopez during the entire War of the Triple Alliance when Paraguay fought Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

She led a group of women, composed of soldiers' wives, daughters and others who supported the Paraguayan soldiers, called 'Las Residentas'.

It was in this role that she came to be in Cerro Cora on March 1, 1870, when Lopez was killed. In an iconic scene of patriotic martyrdom, she buried Lopez and their eldest son Panchito alone, and with her bare hands, in the sand.

She was taken prisoner by the Brazilian military but after more adventures she and her surviving children eventually travelled to Europe and she died in poverty in Paris on July 25, 1886.

Sunday Independent

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