The launch of the fourth James Fintan Lalor Autumn School took place at the Dunamaise Arts Centre last Thursday evening.
This year's JFL School takes place on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1.
Launching proceedings, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Tom Mulhall noted that this year’s programme reflected “the growing maturity of the school and the depth of commitment by all the project partners.”
“The School will feature a new exhibition by Brendon Deacy, 'Unfettered Man of Letters' a rich spectrum of artefacts linking Lalor and the leaders of 1916 which will help us take a close look at the impact and importance of Lalor and his writings on the ideals and actions of that later generation of Irish men and women.
“We are grateful to both Brendon and to the National Library for their contribution to this exhibition.”
Laois Arts Officer Muireann Ni Chonaill outlined the highlights of the programme, including the soapbox events, the artistic showcase on Friday night, Brendon Deacy’s exhibition, and the debates which, she said, should prove to be thought provoking and stimulating.
Michael Parsons of Laois Heritage Society said that it was great that Fintan Lalor was celebrated and commemorated in his own county. “Lalor’s family, and particularly Peter Lalor, raised the flag of liberty in Australia and set a tone for democracy in the 19th century in Australia and Ireland and it’s great in the 21st century that, in a democratic country, we can look at the culture we are living in and always look back and forward to a better Ireland.”
Laois County Council Chief Executive, John Mulholland noted the massive amount of talent in Laois which was very much in evidence over the past nine months of the 1916 commemorations.
“There is unfettered talent in young people in the county,” he stated.
Brendon Deacy said it was a privilege to curate the exhibition.
Its premise and the theme of the School was to link James Fintan Lalor to the events of 1916 and it was a fascinating journey.
As part of his work on the exhibition, Brendon said that, “what came to me was how brave the man was.
“In these times of media barons who seem to be able to publish without any fear of impunity, Lalor realised that when he wrote these inflammatory letters he was risking his own imprisonment, and he was sent to prison
“In 1847 he declared he would not be fettered and bravely pursued his feelings on Irish freedom.”
His influence on Michael Davitt and the Land League and later on Pearse Connolly and De Valera was very significant.
Brendon said he was very grateful to the National Library for their help and support.
There will be two cabinets in the foyer of the Dunamaise during the school displaying a range of artefacts linking Lalor with 1916.
“People can realise what Lalor did for Laois and the country. He left his imprint on democracy at home and in Australia,” he added.