Ireland did not give digout for repair of Kitty O’Shea’s grave

State Papers 2016: UK woman sought help in restoring grave of Katherine Parnell

A woman in the UK raised funds to restore the grave of Katherine Parnell, but there were no signs the Irish State wanted to help her with any aspect of the project.

A telex from the Irish Embassy in London to the Department of Foreign Affairs, dated March 13th, 1986. and contained in the department's files, now in the National Archives, said a Mrs Winifred Murphy had raised funds to restore the grave of Mrs Parnell, often called Kitty O'Shea, in Littlehampton, England.

She had raised most of the money needed, £800, through appeals published in the Irish Post newspaper in Britain.

“Mrs Murphy is in addition endeavouring to raise funds to purchase a cottage on the perimeter of this graveyard, which she hopes can be converted into a museum where hopefully historic photographs, relics etc, to Parnell could be displayed,” the message said.


Financial support

It also said Mrs Murphy intended making a trip to the US to obtain financial support there from Irish -Americans and had asked the embassy for names and addresses of any interested groups. The author asked for any such details to be provided “soonest” and inquired whether the question of State assistance would be considered in due course.

There was no response of any kind to the telex on file, but an older note from the department to the embassy, dated January 1972, said the State would not accept responsibility for maintaining any overseas graves. The cottage on the perimeter of the graveyard never became a museum.

The Parnell Society, founded in Ireland in 1986, and with no connection to Mrs Murphy, upgraded Mrs Parnell's grave in 2003, and commissioned a white rose, the "Katherine Parnell Rose" in her honour.