Petticoat Rebellion – The Anna Parnell Story

“In the late nineteenth century, before women had the vote, a group of respectable ladies operated outside the law to fight for the rights of the landless poor in Ireland. They were feared by both the British government and Irish nationalist movement because of their radicalism, and the authorities were reluctant to confront them because they were women.

They were the Ladies’ Land League, led by Anna Parnell.

When Anna and her colleagues starting questioning her brother Charles Stewart Parnell’s political strategies, they challenged the authority of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the male-run Land League, forcing Charles to reassert control and disband the Ladies’ League.

In this new study of an often unheralded heroine, Patricia Groves explores the life of Anna Parnell, her relationship with her brother and the forces that drove her to such remarkable feats.”


In her brilliant and compellingly written study, Patricia Groves has restored to Irish history the life and work of a singular Irish Patriot.

Irish Voice –

This is a long overdue biog of an energetic and feisty lady.

The Sunday Tribune

Petticoat Rebellion portrays an Anna Parnell who understood the need for revolution on the land in a way that her brother never could.

Ann Dolan – The Irish Times

This book is a must for anyone interested in Irish history. It is the missing page for the history books and extremely well written, not to mention enjoyable.

History Angel –

It is fitting that she be remembered for the significant contribution she made to the aspiration for, and the development of, a more just and caring community. 

Mary McAleese – former President of Ireland, addressing the Parnell Society in 2003.

Who was Anna Parnell?

Miss Anna Parnell was the leader of the infamous Ladies Land League, who fought to protect starving Irish tenants from eviction in the early 1880s. There had been a devastating famine in Ireland in the 1840s, wiping out much of the population, and a second famine threatened to destroy Ireland again in 1879.

In response to this, the newly-formed Land League, headed by Anna’s brother Charles Stewart Parnell, instructed hungry tenants to withhold their rents, and use the money to buy food. They promised that if any tenant was evicted or imprisoned for non-payment, that the Land League would look after them. Charles and the other leaders of the Land League were quickly arrested and imprisoned by British Prime Minister William Gladstone, and it fell to the women to keep the promises that the men had made.

It was hard, physical work. These respectable, middle-class Victorian women trekked across fields and along narrow roads to intercept the constabulary and the army. They were there to ensure that if evictions did take place, that there was no violence, and that food, shelter and provisions were available for the tenants. Sometimes the landlord chose to have a tenant arrested for Land League activities instead, and the Ladies provided prisoners with nourishing food and ensured their families were looked after.

The Ladies Land League continued to thwart the British government at every step, and their activities divided public opinion. Some saw Anna as a veritable Joan of Arc, with her Ladies as her army, others saw Anna as being undignified and unbecoming of the role of women in Victorian society. And in their prison cells, the leaders of the Land League began to feel that their leadership was being undermined by these rebels in petticoats.

This stalemate could not be allowed to continue, and it was inevitable that the Land League, the Ladies Land League and the British Government would come head-to-head. What happened next is truly remarkable: the rebels rebelled against the rebellion.

How to Purchase ‘Petticoat Rebellion’

The paperback edition is now out of print, but a Kindle Edition is available to download from Amazon.