• Morgan Fagg

Hannah Lynch and Spain

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Hannah Lynch and Spain, Collected Journalism of an Irish New Woman 1892-1903

Copy and paste, send all, back-up all documents, spell check and Google translate, all things we take for granted but none of which were available 50 years ago never mind 150 years ago.

To mention the work of a travel writer at all is only possible thanks to advances in transportation in the last two centuries. Without trains, you would probably need to be Lewis and Clark and make your own map of the place.

A few centuries ago before we had the Gutenberg Press, who could share any manuscript unless you had a flock of followers in Kells, patiently drawing bible verses, word for word?

Then there are the difficulties involved for people travelling in strange new lands, languages and of course one remarkable fact among many, this Irish writer was a woman.

Forget voting, a few decades ago she wouldn’t have been served a pint in any Irish bar.


Born in a post famine Ireland, this is the remarkable tale about Hannah Lynch and the life she lived both in Ireland and on the continent and thanks to the Irish Embassy, I have had the opportunity to leaf through her life a little.

Hemingway’s adventurous life, gave the world bull fighting and bull runs at Pamplona and the Spanish Civil War but Hannah’s articles predate any of his Spanish correspondence.

Writing in French and Spanish and in English for Irish and British publications, Hannah Lynch was a gifted writer with a love of languages who was working as sub editor in a provincial publication at the tender age of 16.

Naturally the life of a writer isn’t always easy and Hannah Lynch struggled at times and many of her own comments might have even alienated her.

There was no such thing as self publishing in her day and Amazon was an uncharted river in Africa and I would wonder if she would have been more successful if she had written under a pseudonym. Maybe a male nom de plume would have served her well?

Hannah is described as an Irish New Woman and I have trouble picturing that description with someone born in the middle of the 19th century as Ireland picked itself up from the destruction of the potato blight that killed a million and forced another million to leave the land.

Trains were a new invention when she was born but regardless of sex, how did she manage mail?

E-mail gives lighting fast communication but each article had to be written and posted. She died a few weeks after the Wright Brothers' first flight took place so imagine the difficulties in posting manuscript after manuscript to different publishers in different countries and waiting weeks for a response.

I really think we take our electronic communications for granted as I type this sentence on a bus swerving around a Spanish roundabout.

With two USB charge ports and details about WIFI on the bus, we are even connected on the move but back in Hannah’s time, there was no wireless radio and even the Transatlantic cables between Ireland and America didn’t exist until 1911.

People passed on stories by word of mouth and before reading and writing, poetry allowed bards to share stories that were memorable in sound and when we look at the children’s rhyme, “Ring a ring a rosie a pocketful of poise, a-tishoo, -tishoo we all fall down” for example, we can see a dark reminder of how we used to past down information as some believe the children's song is a reference to either the plague or the Black Death.

Now-a-days we like and share, no matter what the issue is.


Thanks to the authors of Hannah Lynch and Spain, I now look forward to reading of her extraordinary life and her life in Spain at the end of the 19th century.

Left to Right: Jacqueline Hurtley, Ambassador Síle Maguire and Pere Gifra-Adroher.

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© 2018 by Morgan Fagg.