Charles Stewart Parnell is the most enigmatic figure in Irish history. An Anglo-Irish landlord from a distinguished Wicklow family, he became the most unlikely leader of Irish nationalism imaginable. He hated the colour green. He was not a dynamic speaker. He was cold and aloof and lacked the popular touch. None the less, from the late 1870s until his fall and death in 1891, he held the whole of Ireland spellbound. He established Home Rule for Ireland - previously a taboo subject in British politics - at the centre of Westminster affairs and effectively created the modern Irish state in embryo. His fall was as dramatic as his rise. The affair with Mrs Katharine O'Shea, the mother of his three children, destroyed him. Ever since his fall and his premature death in 1891, Parnell has remained a remarkably potent symbol, particularly in times of crisis and conflict in Ireland. The myth has obscured the man and makes it difficult for us to see Parnell as he really was. Paul Bew presents a completely original interpretation of this fascinating and enigmatic man.
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