20 May 2022

Laois and Ireland in Revolution the focus of library talks

Laois and Ireland in Revolution the focus of library talks

Main picture: Cumann na mBan march in Mountmellick. Also pictured are Terry Dunne, Mike Rafter and Liz Gillis who will give talks

Laois County Library is hosting a series of online history talks in the coming weeks as part of its Decade of Centenaries Programme.

Laois and Ireland in Revolution is a three part series exploring areas often overlooked in the past, such as the role of revolutionary women, the labour movement and the Civil War in Laois. 

Revolutionary Women, the first talk in the series, will take place next Wednesday, May 4 at 8 pm. Sinéad Holland (Laois Local Studies) and Terry Dunne (Laois Historian-in-Residence) will talk about women involved in Cumann na mBan and in the labour movement locally, while historian Liz Gillis, author of ‘Women of the Irish Revolution’ will put this research into its national context with an overview of the involvement of women in revolutionary activism across the country.

This talk is part of a long-term and on-going engagement by Laois Local Studies in projects bringing back into the light women’s experience of the revolutionary period.

Revolutionary Workers, the second talk in the series, will take place on Thursday, June 16 at 8 pm. Terry Dunne will talk on his chapter in ‘Bread not profits: provincial working-class politics during the Irish Revolution‘, a new collection of essays on the labour movement.

The chapter looks at the Portarlington Sawmills Lockout of 1918 and the Clonaslee Farm Strike of 1922. Francis Devine, author of ‘Organising history: a centenary of SIPTU, 1909-2009’, and editor of ‘Bread not profits’, will discuss how the Laois experience fits into the national pattern. This event will take place on the anniversary of the first election in the Irish Free State, in which William Davin, of the Railway Clerks’ Association, won 46.54% of the votes in the Laois-Offaly constituency. 

Revolutionary War, the final talk in this online series, will take place on Thursday, June 30 at 8 pm. Join Michael Rafter and Terry Dunne in conversation about the course of the Civil War in Laois. Michael Rafter is the author of the ground-breaking local study ‘The quiet county: towards a history of the Laois Brigade IRA and revolutionary activity in the county, 1913‒ 1923’. The talk takes place on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the first shots being fired in the Civil War in Laois.

The event took place on the Durrow Road outside Abbeyleix (1st July 1922) and was part of the preliminaries of the Battle of Abbeyleix (July 5, 1922). Cadet James Kealy of the National Army and a native of Ballickmoyler died in this clash. 

For more information and to register for online talks visit 

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