Laois in 2019

John Dunne's 'A Book About Portlaoise'

John Dunne's book is a snapshot in time of the social history of Portlaoise and its people

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John Dunne's 'A Book About Portlaoise'

John Dunne

With over 200 years of Maryborough in his blood from both sides of his family, proud townie John Dunne released a brand new book, ‘A Book About Portlaoise’in March.

The book launch took place in a a packed Dunamaise Arts Centre on March 7. It was a night of nostalgia as a slideshow of pictures of ‘vanished’ Portlaoise had the packed theatre audience drawing up memories of times past that had been long forgotten.

‘A Book About Portlaoise’ is a snapshot in time of the social history in Portlaoise.

In the book, John explores the seemingly insignificant things, the lives of the ordinary people that have made and continue to make Portlaoise what it is.

He said the book was driven by three emotions ‘curiosity, love and pure ignorance’.

It is a record of life now for generations to come and an appreciation of ordinary people.

“Nowadays we are living in an age of rampant globalisation. From powerful corporations down to the dominance of mobile telephones right down to the way so many Irish people speak with idioms and accents that are not their own, I don’t like that.

“I think it is very very important that we support local endeavour and we cherish and record our way of speaking, our habits for future generations. The little insignificant things that are all part of what we are," John said.

“I think you will find that the book is full of ordinary people. Ordinary people, I believe, are as worthy of historical mention as any saint, general, sporting hero or Taoiseach.

John said his father was a keen storyteller who loved to talk about the people of Portlaoise.

“It’s in my blood. On both sides of my family on the Dunnes and Lalors, we go back to Maryborough and its environs at least 200 years.

“Genes move in mysterious ways and there is a long, long, long local history behind everything I am and everything I do.

John dedicated the launch night to the late Malcolm Smith.

Award-winning broadcaster Ann Marie Kelly helped John launch the book.

“I love calling John a keeper because I feel that our social history is safe in John’s hands because he loves it, he absolutely loves it. He is eccentric about it, he sees the tiny little details that we choose to forget but when we remember years later we laugh because it is part of our culture,” she said.

Michelle de Forge, Director of the Dunamaise Arts Centre thanked John for being a wonderful supporter of the arts centre.

“John Dunne has been a friend of the Dunamaise since the very beginning. He is a wonderful advocate for all that we do here if he sees something he loves he will tell the world about it and that’s huge support for us.

“It’s actually quite timely because this is our 20th anniversary year and John was actually involved in the very first production on our stage.

John thanked everyone who was involved in the creation of the book. He said it is a collaboration between many people.

He said it made him proud that the research, writing, printing, publishing, launching, sales ‘are all being done by townies’.

The book is available to buy in AllBooks, Portlaoise for €20 and all money raised goes to local St Vincent de Paul.

John is currenly researching a new book focussing on memories of people who have left the town.