Charles Stewart Parnell and Katherine O'Shea (continued)
Married at Steyning on June 25th, 1891
A selection of views and reports of the event

Pages 1 and 2

Sussex Daily News Extract

Steyning Register Office 1905
Steyning Register Office (left) in 1905.
This picture is held at Steyning Museum.

Steyning Register Office, on the corner of Church Street and High Street, is now a private house. The railings and the steps, where Katherine and Charles would have alighted from their carriage, are still there and the scene looks remarkably unchanged. Between 1837 and 1935, the office served 25 parishes, including Aldrington in Hove, near Brighton, where Katherine and Charles lived at the time of their marriage.

Parnell died at Aldrington just three months later, in his wife's arms. October 6th, the date he died, has been honoured as Ivy Day when, even today, Parnellites wear a sprig of ivy in remembrance.

Come Gather Round Me, Parnellites
By W.B. Yeats

Come gather round me, Parnellites,
And praise our chosen man;
Stand upright on your legs awhile,
Stand upright while you can,
For soon we lie where he is laid,
And he is underground;
Come fill up all those glasses
And pass the bottle round.

And here's a cogent reason,
And I have many more,
He fought the might of England
And saved the Irish poor,
Whatever good a farmer's got
He brought it all to pass;
And here's another reason,
That Parnell loved a lass.
And here's a final reason,
He was of such a kind
Every man that sings a song
Keeps Parnell in his mind.
For Parnell was a proud man,
No prouder trod the ground,
And a proud man's a lovely man,
So pass the bottle round.

The Bishops and the party
That tragic story made,
A husband that had sold his wife
And after that betrayed;
But stories that live longest
Are sung above the glass,
And Parnell loved his country
And Parnell loved his lass.

The great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, also has a connection with Steyning. He stayed at Chantry House in Steyning with the mistress of his later years, Edith Shackleton Heald.
Blue PlaqueOn Sunday, June 28th, 1998 a blue plaque was unveiled at the former Steyning Register Office to commemorate the marriage of Charles Stewart Parnell to Katherine O'Shea. There were several VIPs present, including the Irish Ambassador and members of the Parnell Society.

The brochure produced for the event is held in Steyning Museum. It states:

No one man has ever disturbed the scene of British democratic politics so proufoundly as Charles Stewart Parnell.

In his maiden speech to the House of Commons in 1875 he asked: "Why should Ireland be treated as a geographical fragment of England? Ireland is not a geographical fragment but a nation"

He dominated British parliamentary life and no British Prime Minister could rule without taking into account how Parnell might exercise his authority.

His rise to power was meteoric - achieved in little more than ten years of active political life. His fall was equally so and he died in Hove, Sussex, on 6th October 1891 at the age of 45 with his wife Katherine by his side.

During Parnell's lifetime almost three million Irish had either emigrated or died of famine . . . .

Read more at:
The Parnell Society
Ivy Day in the Committee Room (from the Dubliners by James Joyce)

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Page last updated
16th August 2021