Cornucopia of Laois curiosities

FAMILY, friends and admirers descended on county hall in Portlaoise last week for the launch of a new book which is sure to be a local best seller.

FAMILY, friends and admirers descended on county hall in Portlaoise last week for the launch of a new book which is sure to be a local best seller.

Many who attended queued last Thursday at Laois County Council to have their first edition of The Built Curiosities of Laois - Fifteen Tours signed by local heritage expert Dr Jack Carter.

Published by John and Elizabeth McNamee of Laois Education Publishing, the new book offers locals and visitors 15 tours of the county which start in the north west around Clonaslee, concluding in the south east on the Carlow border. Dr Carter suggests each tour should take about a day.

While the book’s title refers to the built heritage it is as much a tour guide of the people that are associated with the places and buildings of Laois.

Last week’s launch marked a celebration of the new book and its author. Dr Carter said the aim of the book is to get people to know their county.

“The basic motive behind the work was to encourage people to leave the seductive living room screen behind and enjoy and cherish the wonderous structures that are still in our county,” he said.

He thanked all of those who helped him as he travelled around the county researching stories and locations carried on the book.

As well as thanking all the guests who attended the launch, he thanked the McNamees for publishing the book and “taking a mighty leap of faith” and Martin Connolly and Tommy Morrin at Print Central. He also thanked his family, especially Gloria his wife, who has “tolerated his absence over the years.”

Birr native and university lecturer, Dr John Feehan officially launched the new guide. He has written extensively on Ireland’s environmental history and heritage and has known Dr Carter for many years.

He praised the new book not just for its variety of content -“You never know what comes next on this book” - but also the style. “It talks to you over your shoulder as you go on your way,” said Dr Feehan who added confidently - “this is going to be best seller I have no doubt.”

He hoped that it could generate tourism in Laois and he urged Dr Carter to write a second volume.

Over the years Dr Carter has worked on heritage projects for the council. Speaking at the launch the Peter Carey, the County Manager, congratulated the author on his latest work.

“If you read it and go through it you will see what a fantastic production it is,” he said.

Mr Carey said the book would be a tremendous benefit to the county.

Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Cllr John Bonham congratulated Dr Carter whom he described as a friend, and said he is already looking forward to the follow up.

Some of the proceeds from the book will go to the Cuisle Centre for Cancer Support in Portlaoise. Mr PJ Gorman, Cuisle Centre director thanked Dr Carter and John McNamee for supporting the Centre on the Block Road.

Publisher, John McNamee said the large crowd who had attended the launch proved the importance of this new work, and previous publications.

“It is a great compliment to Jack and is testimony to the work he has done,” he said.

Mr McNamee added that the book was a local product written, published, printed and designed in Laois.