Ladies Land League

Who Do You Think You Are? – with Julie Walters

The phone call came out of the blue… “Hello, Patricia? This is ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ – yes, the BBC series.”

Sitting at my desk at work, in the middle of a project, on an ordinary day, I considered this for a moment. “Yes, of course you are,” I replied, absolutely certain that it wasn’t. I looked around to see if anyone was giggling in the office.

“No, really, it is,” insisted the voice. “And we’re looking for an expert on the Ladies Land League.”

Right, I thought, this is definitely someone at work pulling my leg. I decided to play along, and see how long the caller could keep it up. “I know of a few experts who could help,” I replied. “Have you spoken to Nancy Smyth or Myles Dungan?”

“Um, we want to talk to you,” said the voice. “We came across your book about the Ladies Land League, ‘Petticoat Rebellion’. Would you be free to meet with our director and researcher in Dublin? We’re planning to shoot part of this episode in the National Library of Ireland.”

Realising this was for real, the rest of the conversation felt surreal … and even more so when, in the summer of 2013*, I found myself in the National Library of Ireland with a documentary crew and Julie Walters. Having seen the show, I was determined not to say “Well, Julie, let me show you this document…”, and I am grateful to the editing team for cutting out the hundred times that I actually said it.

Julie was so much fun to work with – in between the serious bits about a potential famine in 1880s Ireland, and the tenants’ struggle for land rights, we scoured the small ads in the vintage newspapers. One ad which quite captured Julie’s imagination was for a mysterious ‘Hair Destroyer’. We asked the archivist, who was there to safeguard the massive bound volumes, which had been taken out of storage for the day, what this Hair Destroyer might be. She said that it was either an electrical device which you plugged in to make your hair fall out, or some kind of potion which did the same. Julie got a fit of the giggles at this. If you watch the episode, you can see that she was clearly having a LOT of fun that day in the Library.

There’s a photo and more information about Julie’s brave ancestor, a treasurer in a local Ladies Land League branch, Mrs Maria O’Brien, on the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine website.


*Saturday 10th August 2013, to be precise.

IFTA, Irish Film & Television Academy, Writing

Masterclass with director Neil Marshall

Kreeta Taponen enjoys the ambiance of The Light House Cinema, Dublin, as director Shannon Moncrief talks to Neil Marshall

“He was just a naked Geordie covered in KY Jelly.”

Director Neil Marshall’s description of that jump-out-of-your-seat scene from ‘The Descent’ when a ghostly ‘Crawler’ first lurks in the background behind the women trapped underground in a caving accident, sums up the less glamorous side of the film industry. Even this hilarious description could not overwrite the creepiness of the Crawler characters from what was perhaps the scariest movie of 2005.

Neil went on to outline his journey from rebellious film student to membership of the notorious ‘Splat Pack’, at this Directors’ Masterclass in the Light House Cinema, Dublin, in conversation with fellow director Stephen St Leger. Using movie clips as case studies from his horror films, including ‘The Descent’ and ‘Doomsday’, we learned the importance of tenacity, script management and a good sense of humour. Neil also discussed the creative challenges of being a writer/director, with the dual challenges of writing feature film scripts, and then finding the funds to make them.

With thanks to the Irish Film & Television Academy for organising this event, which took place on 28th September 2013.

Anna Parnell, Petticoat Rebellion movie

Petticoat Rebellion – The Movie!

Yes, at long last, the movie of the book is in development! Well, the early stages of development … the very, very early stages … but from tiny seeds do tall trees grow.

The Irish Film Board has agreed to reconsider ‘Petticoat Rebellion, The Anna Parnell Story’, for feature script development funding.

This means that, from next Monday, March 11th, I will start writing a ‘treatment’, i.e. an exciting short-story version, of the book. The Film Board will decide in May or June whether they will fund a full feature film script. And then it’s time to find a producer and put together a package of director, actors and everyone else the enormous team needed to make a feature film.

This week, I’m laid up in bed with a back strain, on painkillers, and unable to do much, other than poke my iPhone (hurray for the WordPress app for iPhone!) and read, which means I’ll be re-reading Petticoat Rebellion with fresh eyes.

Here’s to Petticoat Rebellion – The Movie!


Anna Parnell, Writing

The E-Book Rebellion

Well, after a year of upheaval and house moves, the dust is finally settling (literally – the builders have just left!), and there is finally some time to update my blog.

Petticoat Rebellion, the book after which this blog is named, is now available as a Kindle e-book download from Amazon, to mark the centenary of the heroine of the piece, Miss Anna Parnell. So, having shied away from purchasing e-books because I love ‘real’ books, I finally caved in and bought two.

The first was Petticoat Rebellion (of course!) and the second was Results Not Typical, a fun novel about the diet industry by the wonderful ‘unpublished’ author, Catherine Ryan Howard, aka Catherine, Caffeinated. My guess is it won’t be too long before she achieves her long-overdue and much-deserved publishing deal!

If you’re nervous about buying an e-book, don’t be!  You can download the iPhone Kindle app for free and they also have free apps for your Mac, PC or other smartphone. Then try out some free e-books to get started!


Online Marketing

Online Marketing and Digital Strategy

Well, last night was Week Two in the excellent evening course in Online Marketing and Digital Strategy that I’m taking in Griffith College Dublin.

Over the twelve weeks of the course, each of the nine students will create a Digital Strategy for a particular product, campaign or website.

I’ll be building my project around a short-term campaign which will run in early 2011 as a pilot for future, longer campaigns. It’s really exciting to be able to use these learnings straight away, and to have the opportunity to put knowledge into practice. I’ll let you know how the project goes – and I would love it if you would take part!

Lecturer Keith Feighery is a powerhouse who barely stops for breath as he moves from one case study to another and guides us through the syllabus. He speaks ‘digital’ like it’s his mother tongue and sometimes it feels like we’re learning a new language.

While working on this project I’ll also be thinking about how to use these skills to help promote the Petticoat Rebellion e-book, which will be released before the end of the year by Mercier Press. Coming to a Kindle, iPad or pdf near you!

My final thought about online marketing is that nowadays, in many ways, even individuals need their own digital strategy. How we present ourselves online is so important. Friends, family and employers can find everything they need to know about us with just a few clicks – and do we always do ourselves justice, or do we occasionally let ourselves down? (I think I’ll probably come back to this theme again!)


Anna Parnell, Writing

Kildare Readers’ Festival update

Great news – the Kildare Readers’ Festival micro-site is now live, with full details of all the activities over three days.

Kildare Readers' Festival
A map showing all the locations for the Kildare Readers\’ Festival

The festival kicks off with the Mayor’s Festival Reception at 6pm in Time bar in Naas and the Devise & Conquer Theatre Company’s performance of The Proposal by Anton Chekhov. (If you miss The Proposal on Friday, you can catch it again on Saturday evening at 6pm in the Osprey Hotel Ballroom.)

Well-known names in the Irish literary arena will feature during the festival, including Sheila O’Flanagan, Dermot Somers, Brian Keenan, John Minahan and John Connolly.

I’ll be reading from “Petticoat Rebellion” in the Osprey Hotel as part of the Kildare Author Panel, along with John McKenna and Rob Kitchin. Dermot Bolger will chair this event. The Author Panel starts at 12 noon, and finishes around 1.30pm.

Anna Parnell, Writing

Kildare Readers’ Festival 14-16 May 2010

Great news – “Petticoat Rebellion” has been selected for the Kildare Readers’ Festival in Newbridge this May!

The festival runs for three days – Friday 14th May to Sunday 16th May inclusive.  Petticoat Rebellion is one of three books selected for the Authors’ Panel in the Osprey Hotel on Saturday 15th May.  As soon as there’s more information, I’ll post it to this blog.

It’s really exciting to be able to share the book in my home county, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Anna Parnell, Michael Davitt

Land League Celebration in Mayo

Michael Davitt Museum

Great excitement – I’ve been asked to speak at the Michael Davitt Museum in Straid, County Mayo this Friday, November 6th, as part of a celebration by the Michael Davitt National Memorial Association to mark 130 years since the foundation of the Land League. Michael Davitt is known as “The Father of the Land League”, and it was he who actively sought – and fought – to establish a Ladies Land League. Anna Parnell considered him to be one of her closest allies and supporters during the Land War.

The same weekend sees the official opening of the Davitt Centre and the North/South Cultural and Historial Symposium on the weekend of November 6 and 7.

Cllr John Cribbin, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council will also launch a photographic exhibition on civil rights, which is on loan from the Museum of Free Derry.

Anton McNulty, of The Mayo News, reports full details of the event on their website. Here’s a quote from his article:

On Saturday, November 7, a lecture by Dr Dominic Bryan of Queens University, Belfast , entitled ‘Transforming Conflict Flags and Emblems’ and a lecture by Dr Mary Harris of NUIG called ‘The Catholic Church and the Partition of Ireland’ will take place in the Pontoon Bridge Hotel at 11am. The session will chaired by Cllr Henry Kenny.
In the afternoon session which starts at 2pm, Rev John Farr from Antrim, will talk on ‘Personal reflections on the Orange Order’ and Senator Labhras O’Murchu will speak on ‘Music and Tradition’. This session will be chaired by Bernard O’Hara of GMIT, and each session will be followed by a question and answer session.

With deep gratitude to Mrs Nancy Smyth for her encouragement and organisational skills!

Anna Parnell, articles

Great Irish Book Week!

Great Irish Book Week Launch

“Petticoat Rebellion – The Anna Parnell Story ” has been selected for Great Irish Book Week, a special promotion of 30 top titles from Irish publishers.

Senator David Norris, T.V. Presenter Kathryn Thomas, Author Anna McPartlin and The Arts Council’s Sarah Bannon successfully launched the Great Irish Book Week at the National Library on Thursday 1st October.

A FREE 288-page sampler of extracts from all the books is included with every purchase in your local bookshop.

Or, you can visit this special page on the Great Irish Book Week site for a sneak preview!

Anna Parnell, articles, Michael Davitt

Michael Davitt the Peacemaker

Michael Davitt Kevin Myers wrote a lovely insightful article about Michael Davitt in today’s Irish Independent newspaper, called “None dreamed such impossible dreams as Davitt did and then made them come true”.

Comparing Davitt to a nineteenth-century Ghandi, Myers writes, “Davitt’s real lesson for the world — which Ghandi learnt, but tragically Pearse and Connolly did not — wasn’t about the creation of a word but a concept: that peaceful, studiously non-violent mass-action in pursuit of a palpably just cause can create an almost irresistible political momentum. If unjust imprisonment be your fate, then lift your hand against no man, and go to jail.” Davitt did indeed go to jail in 1881, when the British government realised that he was encouraging starving tenants not to pay their overpriced rents. He went back to jail in England, peacefully and with dignity.

Myers goes on to say that “No single individual has ever transformed Ireland for the better as Davitt did; but best of all, he gave power to the powerless by perfectly peaceful means”.

Michael Davitt was one of the key intellects behind the formation of the Ladies Land League, which was headed by Anna Parnell. Both were accused by the media of the time of being extremists, but a closer look at their characters reveals the opposite. Both were pacifists, dedicated to using peaceful means to end the land struggle in Ireland.