Home Lifestyle Portlaoise Library Summer Series of Local History Talks throughout July 

Portlaoise Library Summer Series of Local History Talks throughout July 

Portlaoise Library has announced the return of its summer series of local history talks.

The talks will take place in Portlaoise library at 7pm on Wednesday evenings throughout the month of July.

The series will cover a broad range of local history topics, from cricket in Laois to controversial Laois man Kevin O’Higgins.

The Story of Cricket in Laois
Wednesday, July 3

The first talk is by Laois native and cricket enthusiast, James Bennett.

The Story of Cricket in Laois from 1833 to 2023 is a talk based on Mr Bennett’s recent publication of the same title, which was enthusiastically received by the heritage community locally and cricket community nationwide.

The talk will describe and analyse the evolution of cricket from its elitist origins to its present status as an inclusive sport in Laois, examining the links between cricket and the social, political and cultural history of the county.

Mr Bennett, originally from Portlaoise, is a former national school principal and cricket administrator, and was elected President of Cricket Leinster in 2022.

Women’s Activism in Laois
Wednesday, July 10

In week two, historian, Regina Dunne will speak on Women’s Activism in Laois from 1914 to 1923.

Ms Dunne will provide an overview of the various women’s groups in Laois who were actively supporting their local community, their country and their father’s, husbands, brothers and neighbours who fought in World War I.

Ms Dunne’s current research focuses on the United Irishwomen and their activities to ‘brighten the countryside’, while also trying to stem emigration from rural Ireland.

She has been researching the Volunteer Aid Detachments of Laois and that work continues.

In addition, Ms Dunne showcases some of the Bureau of Military History records to show an overall image of women’s history in Laois during this period.

Kevin O’Higgins, his Friends and Enemies
Wednesday, July 24

The third talk in the series is Kevin O’Higgins, his Friends and Enemies by Arthur Mathews, based on the speaker’s latest publication of the same title.

A native of Stradbally, O’Higgins was prominent in the War of Independence.

But he would later be associated with the passing of the Army Emergency Powers Resolution, which authorised internment, military courts, and executions as legal instruments for the national army.

Admired by some for his achievements in law and order, he was so hated by others that he was assassinated in 1927.

Arthur Mathews is best known as the co-writer of the seminal Irish sitcom Father Ted, but his varied career also includes acting, producing and writing novels and plays.

Land and Labour in Laois
Wednesday, July 31

The final talk in the series is Land and Labour in Laois from 1904 to 1924 by Laois Historian-in-Residence, Terry Dunne.

This talk will look at labour and agrarian protest in Laois in the years just before and during the First World War and the Irish Revolution.

Mr Dunne is co-editor of a new collection of essays published with Four Courts Press, entitled Spirit of Revolution: Ireland from Below, 1917-1923.

He has researched and written on a wide variety of Laois related history topics and his highly praised articles can be read on the Laois Local Studies website here.

Booking for talks is advised and available here or by contacting Portlaoise Library on 0578622333 or by emailing portlaoiselibrary@laoiscoco.ie

SEE ALSO – Summer Camps: Your week-by-week guide to what’s on around the county this summer