As the land agitation reached its height, Elisabeth’s horses were shipped over from Hungary and Summerhill Mansion prepared for her visit. But the horses could not cope with the high, wide fences and hedges prompting the need to buy replacements.
Thousands turned out to get a sight of the Empress from the moment she stepped ashore in Dublin. On one occasion there was a two kilometre traffic jam of carts and carriages to see her.
British fears about Sisi’s presence were soon realised when the pursued stag raced for cover in Maynooth’s Catholic Seminary, viewed by the government as a hotbed of dissent. The hunting was a great success and Sisi made many new friends among the local gentry. Having made so many friendships in Ireland, Elisabeth half-heartedly cut the visit short after devastating floods hit Szegedin in Hungary.
Returned to Summerhill for six weeks of hunting.
Shortly after Elisabeth had returned to Vienna the Irish Land League had been formed in reaction to the eviction of tenant farmers as anti-British agitation increased. On her return Sisi was met by her hunting companions and was soon out with Royal Meath and Ward hunts.
The conditions were treacherous and there were frequent falls and her groom Bayzand badly injured his foot. Bay Middleton became a laughing stock and a liability as his horse regularly refused to jump and threw Bay from the saddle.
The British authorities feared Sisi’s presence in Ireland when Parnell and Dillonreturned from fund raising in the United States. Aware of the sensitivity, the Emperor ordered Sisi to return home but she also had to pay her respects to Queen Victoria en route back.