James Fintan Lalor Autumn School

James Fintan Lalor Autumn School

The third annual James Fintan Lalor Autumn School will be a fitting tribute to a significant national figure who engaged directly with the political climate of his time, fighting for land rights on behalf of the oppressed Irish farming community and the working classes.

Chair of the James Fintan Lalor School Committee Muireann Ní Chonaill said “We are delighted that the speakers and topics for this year’s school present such a strong picture and we hope that there will be much energetic debate at the event, with participation from the audience, as in previous years”.

The opening event takes place on Friday 9th October in the Dunamaise Arts Centre with special guest Ruth Adler, Australian Ambassador to Ireland followed by a keynote speech titled “Commemoration” delivered by Prof Diarmaid Ferriter. The evening will also feature a special performance of music and stories by Nuala Hayes, Cormac de Barra and Sean Ryan of the music and folktales of Laois, to celebrate the publication of “Laois Folktales”, with original illustrations from the book by Rita Duffy on display throughout the event.


dunamaise arts centre

James Fintan Lalor Autumn School at Dunamaise Arts Centre


Saturday’s programme includes ”The Life & Times of Peter Lalor”, an address by Chair of Laois Heritage Society Michael Parsons, on Peter Lalor, the brother of James Fintan Lalor and leader of the Eureka Stockade in Australia.
Throughout the day debates include; “Irish Freedom in the 21st Century” chaired by Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter, with contributions from Pat Cooke and Dr. Regina Uí Chollatáinof UCD, and Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, of the Abbey Theatre.


The second panel debate is“The Power of Interest Groups” chaired by Catriona Crowe, of the National Archives of Ireland, and panellists Helen O’Carroll, Curator of Kerry County Museum, Dr. Sandra Collins, the newly appointed Director of the National Library of Ireland and John Waters, Journalist and Author.
The final debate of the day will be“The 1916 Proclamation” chaired by Prof. Bryan Fanning of UCD, with contributions from Liz Gillis, Author of “Women of the Irish Revolution 1913 – 1923”, Artist Robert Ballagh, and journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards.



This year’s James Fintan Lalor School marks the opening event of the Laois 2016 Programme, a year-long commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Rising. The themes for the debates and talks have been selected to provide an opportunity for reflection on the issues associated with the Rising and our commemoration of it, what this means for us as a people and how we move forward as a nation. It will be a weekend of interesting and compelling debates and discussions not to be missed.
The event will be held at the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise, and full details and booking information are now online at