Home Lifestyle In Pictures: Two extraordinary Laois women to be remembered in new book

In Pictures: Two extraordinary Laois women to be remembered in new book

Picture: Alf Harvey.

‘Opening a Window on the Past’ is a local history publication by Regina Dunne, Laois Historian in Residence 2019/2020 under the Decade of Centenaries Programme.

The book explores the lives of two Laois women: Lucy Franks and Helen Roe. A special launch of this publication will take place on Friday August 20 as part of Heritage Week 2021.

Gertrude Lucy Maria Franks (1878-1964) of the Castletown United Irishwomen (ICA), was instrumental in reviving the Irish Countrywomen’s Association in the late 1920s and establishing the Country Shop in St. Stephens Green, Dublin.

In addition, Lucy Franks supported attendance at the Spring Fairs in the RDS, helped to establish the annual summer school which still takes place today, and was a founding member of the Association of Country Women of the World.

Her impact on rural women’s associations both nationally and internationally is recognised in this publication.

The publication tells the tale of the early days of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association in Laois and it’s revival through an era of turmoil in Irish history.

Helen Maybury Roe (1895-1988) of Mountrath was the first County Librarian, first female President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI), and a staunch advocate for local history, folklore, and opening the windows of the world to everyone in Laois both young and old through stories, and books.

In her Ford Model T, she travelled the roads of Laois delivering lectures on local history, flora and fauna, recording local folklore, photographing ancient archaeology, and was a firm believer in preserving local history.

Known widely in the area of Early Christian Art and ‘the world of stone’, this publication explores her extensive work on the local history of Laois and her life as the first County Librarian in Laois.

The publication will be launched through a live streamed reading by Regina Dunne from the Old Fort Quarter, Portlaoise and available at Laois Libraries Facebook page.

Regina Dunne with Conor Bergin
Picture: Alf Harvey.

Author Regina Dunne said: “In recent years there has been an increase in the number of publications and research focusing on the often forgotten about pioneering women of our nation.

“This publication, supported by Laois Libraries and Creative Ireland Laois will contribute to that body of national literature on women’s history.

Regina Dunne with Michael Parsons, chairman of the Heritage Council
Picture: Alf Harvey.

“Lucy Franks and Helen Roe were both pioneering in their work in the area of social work, education and humanities, it is my pleasure to bring together a number of years of research on these two Laois women and acknowledge their impact on the nation’s history both locally, nationally and internationally.

“Join me this Friday at Laois libraries Facebook page and celebrate these extraordinary Laois women with a virtual launch and live reading.”

Regina Dunne with Doreen Roe and Alison Roe, cousin of Helen Maybury Roe
Picture: Alf Harvey.

The book delves into the lives and times of both influential women, and acknowledges their pioneering work during an era of change in Irish history.

In the lead up to the launch event, County Librarian Bernie Foran said: “Laois County Library Service were delighted to facilitate the historian in residence programme as part of the Laois Decade of Centenaries programme 2019/2020.

Picture: Alf Harvey.

“The residency explored the experiences of Laois women during this period and examined their contribution to events and impact on social change.

“A particular thanks to Regina Dunne as Historian in Residence for her dedication and enthusiasm for the project, researching and bringing to life the unique and fascinating stories and lasting legacies of both Helen Roe and Lucy Franks.”

Picture: Alf Harvey.

Laois Heritage Officer, Catherine Casey is delighted that the publication will be launched as part of Heritage Week.

She said: “Commemoration of important people and places in Laois is an important theme of the Laois Heritage Plan, and one that the members of Laois Heritage Forum have been working towards for a number of years.

Regina Dunne with Castletown ICA ladies Lucy Conroy and Betty Gorman, representing former member Gertrude Lucy Maria Franks
Picture: Alf Harvey.

“Indeed both Helen Roe and Lucy Franks are highlighted in the current Laois Heritage Plan, so I am delighted to welcome this fascinating research into the lives of these two important Laois women by Regina Dunne and the Laois Library Service.

“The publication of this wonderful book will ensure they take their place in the pantheon of Laois heritage literature, to ensure their contributions are valued and explored into the future.”

Regina Dunne with Castletown ICA ladies Lucy Conroy and Betty Gorman
Picture: Alf Harvey.

‘Opening a Window on the Past’ will be available in early Autumn at all Laois libraries, and local bookstores.

This publication has been realised due to Laois County Library Services, the Laois Decade of Centenaries Programme, and supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council.

R

Regina Dunne with Rory O’Farrell, family friend of Helen Roe and cousins of Helen Roe, Alison Roe and Doreen Roe
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Regina Dunne with her husband David Dunne, mother Maggie McGinley and Cathaoirleach of LCC Conor Bergin
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Regina Dunne with her husband David Dunne and mother Maggie McGinley
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Regina Dunne with Doreen Roe and Alison Roe, cousin of Helen Maybury Roe
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Regina Dunne with Doreen Roe and Alison Roe, cousin of Helen Maybury Roe
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Picture: Alf Harvey.
Picture: Alf Harvey.

SEE ALSO – In Pictures: Portarlington players and supporters celebrate first Laois SFC success since 2001

Previous articleManager Murphy on how 2019 Portlaoise heartbreak drove Portarlington to success on Sunday
Next articleNew manager brings wealth of experience from around the world to Jeremiah Grant’s
Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.