Sarah Curran

Sarah Curran playing the harp. Painted by William Beechey, c.1805.

Sarah Curran (1782 – 5 May 1808) was the youngest daughter of John Philpot Curran, an eminent Irish lawyer. She lived in the priory in Rathfarnham and was the great love of Irish patriot Robert Emmet.[1]

Curran met Robert through her brother Richard, a fellow student of Emmet's at Trinity College in Dublin.[2] Sarah's father considered Robert unsuitable, and their courtship was conducted through letters and clandestine meetings. Notable is Robert's letter to Sarah. Robert and Sarah were secretly engaged in 1803.[1] When her father discovered that Sarah was engaged, he disowned her and then treated her so harshly that she had to take refuge with friends in Cork, where she met and married Captain Robert Sturgeon, a nephew of the Marquis of Rockingham in November 1805. The two lived in Haiti (according to the Cambridge Biographic Encyclopedia), where Sturgeon was posted; she had a child, John, who died at the age of one month, after a difficult birth. Sarah died of tuberculosis on 5 May 1808. She was buried in the birthplace of her father at Newmarket, County Cork.[1] She had wished to be buried in her father's garden beside her sister Gertrude, who had died at the age of 12 from a fall from a window in the house; her father refused.[3]


Washington Irving, one of America's greatest early writers, devoted "The Broken Heart" in his magnum opus The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. to the romance between Robert Emmet and Sarah Curran, citing it as an example of how a broken heart can be fatal.

The road leading past Saint Enda's Park is called Sarah Curran Avenue. Irish poet Thomas Moore was inspired by her story to write the popular ballads, "She is far from the land" and "Oh breathe not his name!"[4] and the long poem Lalla Rookh.[5]

She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps,
And lovers around her are sighing,
But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps,
For her heart in his grave is lying.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Robert Emmet". Library Ireland. 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  2. "Robert Emmet". The Robert Emmet Society. 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  4. "Robert Emmet & Sarah Curran". Robert Emmet.ORG. 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  5. Terence de Vere White, Tom Moore, p.123

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