Eliza Lynch

 Lynch's last abode
Like Lola Montez, the early life of Eliza Lynch (Charleville, Co. Cork, 1835 (possibly 1831) – Paris, 1886) is somewhat obscure, although she herself wrote that she was born in 1835 “of honourable and wealthy parents from an Irish family”.

In 1847, Eliza left Ireland for Paris, where her sister Corinne was already living. Her father went with her, hoping to prosper in the economically liberal climate of the July Monarchy. Alas, a year after their arrival came the Year of Revolution, 1848. Instead of making a better life for themselves, the Lynch family fell on hard times. In 1850, at a remarkably young age, Eliza was married to a Frenchman, a certain lieutenant Xavier de Quatrefages, who she followed to Algeria. Eliza quickly tired of garrison life in Algeria, and eloped with a Russian back to Paris by 1853. They lived on the rue du Bac (7th arrondissement) for a few months until the outbreak of the Crimean War in October of that year forced all Russians out of Paris. As a consequence, Eliza, now alone, had to sing for her supper. She became a lorette, a kind of 19th century escort girl, and frequented the salon of 'la veuve Dumont' on the rue Tronchet (8th arrondissement). It was during her short career as a lorette that she met the Paraguayan general Francisco Solano L
ópez and became pregnant by him. In November 1854, they left for Paraguay. López became president of Paraguay in 1862 and instigated the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in 1864. In the meantime, Eliza had become López’s éminence grise and, just like her compatriot Lola Montez in Bavaria, she was intensely disliked by the natives (Irish women seem to have that effect).

Unlike Solano L
ópez, Eliza survived the war, but was expelled from Paraguay in 1870 and made her way to London. A certain Cunninghame Greene, who met her in London, describes her thus: “In her well-made Parisian cloths, she looked more French than English, and had no touch of the untidiness that so often marks the Irish woman.” After the suppression of the Paris Commune in 1871, she traveled to and fro from Paris with her putative sister-in-law, Isidora Diaz. During this time, she quartered in the rue Saint Lazare (9th arrondissement).
 Eliza Lynch-López's death notice
 Eliza's penultimate resting place in Père Lachaise
After a trip back to
Asunción in 1875 she settled in Paris, where she occupied a mansion at 1, avenue Ulrich (now Avenue Foch, 16th arrondissement). She may have spent three years in the Holy Land in the 1870s, but by the end of that decade she was back in Paris. Proof that her funds were running low, she died (of stomach cancer, or possibly even of malnutrition) in a lodging house at 54 Boulevard Pereire (17th arrondissement) in July 1886. The actress and latter-day sculptress Sarah Bernhardt built a home for herself right beside Eliza's last abode, but it has long ceased to exist.

She was buried in Père Lachaise, first in a small plot paid for by one of her sons, and later in the same plot as the family of Estelle Martin—a close friend or possibly sister. Her remains were transferred to
Asunción in the early 1960s as part of the rehabilitation of her concubine by the Paraguayan military junta. However, according to an alternative version of the story of the transfer, a Lebanese-Paraguayan drug smuggler called Teofilo Chammas actually robbed the remains of Eliza López before the military could do so and offered them to the Paraguayan state shortly thereafter.

Select Bibliography
 The Empress of South America. The True Story of Eliza Lynch, the Irishwoman who destroyed Latin America’s Wealthiest Country – and Became its National Heroine (2003)
Nigel Cawthorne

La gran infortunada: Alicia Elisa Lynch (2007)
Josefina Pla

The Shadows of Eliza Lynch (2003)
Siân Rees

Elisa Lynch (1997)
Hector Varela