Traces along the Wild Atlantic Way Lola Montez, dancer and king’s mistress
Beautiful and frivolous, vain and extravagant, loved and hated, she caused mayhem at a Bavarian king’s court and was the subject of a Max Ophüls film.
Her real name was Eliza Gilbert. Her father, Edward Gilbert, was an officer in the British Army; her mother, Eliza Oliver, was from a landed estate in County Limerick. Young Eliza was born in Grange, County Sligo, on 17 February 1821. Most of her childhood was spent in India or in British boarding schools. At the age of 16 she eloped with a Lieutenant, but they separated a year or so later. It was after this that she learned Spanish dancing and reinvented herself as Lola Montez, the Spanish dancer, performing first in London, then on the Continent. In October 1846 she made her appearance in Munich, where Ludwig I, King of Bavaria and 35 years her senior, made her his mistress, offered her a palace as well as vast sums of money, and gave her the title Countess of Landsfeld.
But when he wanted to give her Bavarian citizenship too, his cabinet resigned in protest. Lola was openly vilified on the streets and fled Bavaria shortly before the revolution of March 1848, which led to Ludwig‘s abdication. Lola headed for Switzerland, then England. But she later fled London too, when faced with bigamy charges. She eventually settled in New York and became a very fervent Christian. She died at the age of 39. The Max Ophüls film Lola Montès premiered in 1955, starring Martine Carol and Peter Ustinov.
The house in which Lola Montez was born has not been identified yet, however, it is likely that at its alleged location a more modern private house can be found today – in close vicinity to Langs Pub.
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