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 López 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 López, 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).
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.
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)
La gran infortunada: Alicia Elisa Lynch (2007)
The Shadows of Eliza Lynch (2003)
Elisa Lynch (1997)