A century after her death, the North Devon grave of a once almost-forgotten leading female Irish nationalist has been fully restored

The grave of an Irish nationalist heroine has been lovingly restored in Ilfracombe.

Anna Parnell was a major force in the Irish nationalist struggle in the 19th century and a staunch activist on behalf of the poor.

But in the last year of her life she lived in obscurity in Ilfracombe and was buried in the town after she drowned at Tunnels Beaches in 1911.

Her brother was the well-known nationalist leader and politician Charles Parnell, who agitated for land reform and home rule in the 1880s.

The grave of Anna Parnell in Ilfracombe, with one of her own quotes.The grave of Anna Parnell in Ilfracombe, with one of her own quotes.

He led the Irish National Land League - which was banned in 1880 - and Anna and her sister Fanny worked with him, before going on to set up the Ladies Land League, which worked to support evicted families.

Anna's grave was all-but forgotten for a century, but in 2013 Lucy and John Keaveney from Meeth in Ireland followed the trail of an old Ilfracombe Chronicle report about her death and found the grave overgrown and neglected.

It has now been fully overhauled by Fine Memorials in Barnstaple, paid for by Ireland's Department of Culture and Heritage.

Lucy said: "We have visited Ilfracombe on an annual basis since and we got to know a lot of people there who tend the grave between our visits.

"Anna was a driving force and staunch activist on behalf of the poor as the founder of the Ladies' Land League.

"At a meeting of the Land League in March 1881 Anna acknowledged that her actions would never be appreciated in her lifetime but she hoped that 'perhaps when we are dead and gone and another generation grown up ... they will point to us as having set a noble example to all the women of Ireland'."

Anna became estranged from her brother and lived in Ilfracombe under the name Cerise Palmer, but was named at her inquest on September 23, 1911. Seven people attended a low-key funeral at Holy Trinity Church.

Sue Garwood of Ilfracombe Museum and The Holy Trinity Graveyard Group, said: "Anna, once shunned in her native Ireland is now to be recognised over 100 years since her passing and given her place in Irish history.

"Now that Anna's gravestone has been restored it stands upright and proud amongst the other stones and has a place in Ilfracombe's rich history."