Tale of a Great Sham(e) Text is an electronic text first inspired by the consideration of citizenship.
One day I went on a tour around Glasnevin Cemetery, the tour celebrated the women of the 1916 rising and mentioned Anna Parnell, the sister of Charles Stewart Parnell (who ran the Irish Parliamentary Party back in the 1880s). I’d not heard of her, so I casually did a Google search to uncover more. Well…. That was the moment. I needed to know more and decided to devote some research time to Anna Parnell. She has written a book about her experiences during 1881/2, enlightening her readers about the Ladies Land League, set up to take on the work of the Land League once Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell were imprisoned in 1881. The League helped tenant farmers in the late 19th C. To abolish Landlordism, politicising the mostly catholic rural tenant farmers.
The Land League had a political message that was shared at public meetings.. 10, 20 thousand people were reportedly attending these meetings. Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt were jailed in 1881, their arrest resulted in the No-Rent Manifesto, encouraging farmers to strike until the prisoners were freed. The histories of the Land War are taught in schools around the country, no student is left without a knowledge of it.. but the sister of Charles Stewart Parnell, who was asked to carry on the cause while they were in imprisoned ? She is not so well known!
The records kept by the Ladies Land League were destroyed by a fire on Henry St in Dublin, during the 1916 Rising. Anna Parnell was one of the women to light the torch for the beginning of the womens nationalist movement in Irelands Independence along with her sister Fanny Parnell.
So, I kept searching and found she had written a book. It is out of print, you have to buy it second hand on Ebay ..
Anna Parnells book is a memoir of the Ladies Land League: The Tale of a Great Sham. It was written in 1909 and published posthumously in 1986 by Arlen House, with an introduction by Dana Hearne.
Reading the text inspired my creative process, I break the text into short phrases, discontinuous sentences. Anacoluthons or logical incoherences. Anacoluthons are the sort of things that get added into sentences as ‘internal thoughts’, changing of syntax in a sentence.. It is a practice I do all the time, creating weird sentences out of the double dot.
It is also inspired by the sonic agency surrounding politics and the political demo. I am sure we have all been on demonstration marches and really been inspired by the chanting. The rhythmic urgency, the noise and feeling of entrainment of being amongst the other protesters. It is an intense feeling. “See no homeless, hear no homeless, help no homeless”; “pay no rent”; “When sleeping women wake, mountains tremble”. We all know the chants.. My aim is to locate sound with political reality, to locate it in historical struggle and also see it alongside present day struggle? Brandon LaBelle has asked if there is a “potential to embed sonic thought in contemporary struggle?” in Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance (2018), leading to a reflection of Salomé Voegelin’s ‘sound’s invisible formlessness’ in Sonic Possible Worlds (2014) and its power alter the visible.
In 1881 Anna Parnell was giving stump speeches “Now, Ladies, I am going to speak to you. There is a great deal of practical work for the ladies of Ireland to do now”. Parnell urged female audiences to engage in political activity, not to challenge but to circumvent by being strategic. Parnell encourages the national duty to protect homes and their neighbours’ homes. Irish women were inspired to literally go into hand-to-hand combat with landlords, bailiffs, soldiers and police. Thirteen women of the Ladies Land League were charged. The British Attorney General in Ireland at the time justified this by accusing the women of “unsexing themselves” by virtue of their involvement of political activity in the public sphere. (Côte 1991, 206). The Land League no rent manifesto was being carried on by the women, and the British Attorney General, accuses the women of being a screen (a petticoat screen) for the men.
One of the women, Hannah Reynolds, was imprisoned under the statute that empowered magistrates to send to prison “persons not of good fame”. She was sent to Cork Gaol for one month. She had a small cell, was confined for 22 hrs a day, wasn’t allowed to wear her own clothes. She was permitted to receive one visitor. Meals were sent in by the Ladies Land League and Brass Bands would keep her spirits up by playing beneath her window (Côte 1991, 208)
Following the arrests of these 13 women. Anna Parnell advertised in The Nation, for an act of simultaneous meetings throughout the country, to take place on on 1 Jan 1882, 1.30pm.
On 1 Jan at 1.30pm all the Ladies’ Land League held their meetings.
So, the work is about protest, about agency and about simultaneous noise.
I use blocks of sound, blocks of visuals. I ask for participation.
Côte. Jane McL. Fanny & Anna Parnell: Ireland’s Patriot Sisters. Macmillan. 1991.
LaBelle, Brandon. Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance. Goldsmiths Press. 2018.
Parnell, Anna. The Tale of A Great Sham. Arlen House. 1986.
Voegelin, Salomé. Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound. Bloomsbury Academic. 2014.