Creative Laois Projects 2020

Projects carried out in 2020 as part of the Creative Ireland programme in Laois include:

Abbeyleix Climate Action Project

A project to creatively engage the community of Abbeyleix with the topic of climate change. A partnership project with Abbeyleix Tidy Towns and Midlands Science. More information here.

Mark Clancy, Abbeyleix Tidy Towns; Robbie Quinn, Abbeyleix Tidy Towns; Catherine Casey, Laois Heritage Officer; Niamh Shaw, Science Communicator in Residence; Mary White, Abbeyleix Tidy Towns; Ann Lawlor, Creative Ireland Laois and Dr Fiona MacGowan, Abbeyleix Tidy Towns at the Community Garden Abbeyleix for a start up meeting for the new Abbeyleix Climate Action Project in partnership with Abbeyleix Tidy Towns. The initiative is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council and Midlands Science.
Picture: Alf Harvey.

Music Rich Schools 2020

Music Rich Schools is initiated by Music Generation Laois to target DEIS schools in Co. Laois: Scoil Bhride, Knockmay, Portlaoise; Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Mountmellick; St Joseph’s GNS, Mountmellick; to ensure every child in these schools are given the opportunity to access performance music education, regardless of economic, cultural or social barriers. The project focuses specifically on areas where the most disadvantage exists in the county and ensures the creative potential of every child in these areas is enabled.


Conservation Of Kilmanman Church

Creative Laois has supported the community of Clonaslee to take action to save the medieval church which is at the heart of their community, and the start of the foundation story of their town. The project is described here with an update on 2020 work here.

Fred Mathews, Chris Horan and Tommy Kelly at Kilmanman Church, Clonaslee. Photo Alf Harvey (Missing from Photo Fr O’Reilly, David Brickley and Denis Feighery)

Laois Local Studies Archive website

Laois Local Studies was established to collect, preserve and make available for reference, material relating to the history and heritage of County Laois. It is home to the Laois Collection, a specialist collection on the local, social, political, economic and geographic history of the county. A dedicated member of staff is available to assist and support members of the public with their research and queries. The collection and service are open to all by appointment.

Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Catherine Fitzgerald, Catherine Casey, Laois Heritage Officer; David Walsh Kemmis, Bernie Foran, County Librarian and Sinead Holland, Laois Libraries Archives at Ballykilcavan Estate, Stradbally to commemorate the donation by the Walsh Kemmis family of digitised maps of the Ballykilcavan Estate to the new Laois Digital Archive. The Laois Digital Archive is an initiative of Laois Library Service, and is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council. Picture: Alf Harvey.


Laois Arts Office & Dunamaise Arts Centre Writers in Residence

Laois County Council Arts Office in association with Creative Ireland Laois and Dunamaise Arts Centre have announced the appointment of two writers for new residencies in Laois from August to December 2020. Portlaoise natives David Butler and Kate Heffernan will be based at the Portlaoise premises as part of their residencies with time, space and financial support to concentrate on their own writing as well as a programme of engagement and interaction with the local community in the lead up to and during the Laois Leaves Festival of Writing and Music in early November.


Laois Libraries Historian in Residence

Regina McGinley has been appointed as the 2020 Laois Libraries Historian in Residence. Regina will be continuing her research into Helen Roe and a book will be published on the life of this extraordinary Laois woman.


“We Celebrate Helen Roe”

Creative Laois funding was used to commission artist Caroline Conway to create an animated film reflecting on the achievements of Mountrath-born antiquarian Helen Roe. The film, which was informed by the work of Laois Local Studies and Laois Historian in Residence Regina McGinley was premiered in an outdoor projection in Portlaoise on Culture Night, September 18 2020.

Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Catherine Fitzgerald with the team at In celebration of Helen Roe, a looped video production by Caroline Conway for Creative Ireland Laois assisted by Laois County Library Archive Services and presented by Dunamaise Arts Centre as part of Laois County Council Culture Night at the Old Fort Wall, Portlaoise. Picture: Alf Harvey.


Music Generation Laois new work commission

Musician and composer Martin Tourish was commissioned to create a 20 minute suite of music inspired by the life of Colonel James Fitzmaurice in collaboration with the Music Generation Laois Trad Orchestra. Colonel James Fitzmaurice was a pioneering aviator from Portlaoise who was part of the first successful transatlantic aircraft flight from East to West in 1928. This young group of musicians have worked with Martin in a highly collaborative way to create new music together during the pandemic. The orchestra auditioned online for new members during lockdown, and increased in numbers from 23 members to 76, with new musicians joining from different parts of Ireland, north and south, from Armagh to Cork. Members then composed music with Martin using zoom calls, youtube videos, emails, audio files. The project’s development has unearthed many intriguing parallels between our current challenges, and those faced by Fitzmaurice in his lifetime. Orchestra Team: Siobhan Buckley (Director) and Dale McKay Supported by the Arts Office and Heritage Office of Laois County Council and Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2018-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council.

For Culture Night 2020, a short film about the project – , ‘The Impossible Dream’ – was directed, shot, and edited by Naoise Kettle, with music recorded, mixed, and mastered by Martin Tourish .



The Unavoidable Interconnectedness of Everything

Artist, Mark Clare & ceramicist, Mairead Stafford deliver workshops as part of The Unavoidable Interconnectedness of Everything project – engaging 1,000,000 individuals of all ages, highlighting the threat of climate change and its multi-tiered effects on local biodiversity. This ambitious project will produce an artwork that consists of 1,000,000 individual, handmade ceramic ‘shells’.

The Workshop took place with members of the Laois Home Education Network in November, with Mark and Mairead working with the group via Zoom, due to public health restrictions. The workshop was documented on film, to capture this new and innovative delivery method.

Children at a creative workshop

Ceramic Workshop Photo courtesy Brian Cregan

Young Filmmakers of the Future

This creative experience will be led by Young People from Mountrath Community School with professional mentorship to make their own Short Film, based on a theme/story of their own choosing. Young Filmmakers of the Future is about enabling the creative potential of young people and working with a professional filmmaker, creative writing facilitator and technical team.


Heritage in Schools

Heritage specialists will facilitate school workshops across Laois and share the magic of local folklore, the building of the Dunamase Hiberno-Norman fortification, the abundance of life living in the Slieve Bloom mountains, and the arrival of Vikings into the county.  Young people participate in engaging and interactive, cross-curricular learning through storytelling, performance and practical/hands-on activities.


Children of the Free State by Annie Holland

In the past 2 years, Laois artist, Annie Holland has begun conversations with older people from rural Laois born before or just after 1922, taking photograpic portraits and engaging in conversations about the past and the present. These conversations create the framework for the exhibition ‘Children of the Free State’ which took place at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise as part of Culture Night (18 September 2020)

Anne Holland with her daughter Georgie Holland Rome and son Harry Holland Rome; Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Catherine Fitzgerald; Laois Heritage Officer Catherine Casey and Laois Heritage President Teddy Fennelly at the Children of the Free State Exhibition by Annie Holland at the Dunamaise Arts Centre as part of Laois County Council Culture Night.
Picture: Alf Harvey.


Cruinniu na nÓg

Cruinniu na nÓg, Ireland’s national day for creativity for young people, took place on Saturday 13th June 2020. Due to public health restrictions, many of the events took place online. Full details are here.

One of the key projects for Cruinniú this year was the “Laois Series” – A video artwork created remotely by 26 young people across Co Laois on the theme of ‘A Sense of Place’ – exploring, interpreting and reflecting on sense of place using the mediums of dance, theatre and music as well as discovering sense of place in relation to biodiversity and sense of place and relationship with the library service in this time of social distancing and isolation. Commissioned by Laois County Council Culture & Creativity Team as part of Cruinniu na nÓg 2020.



Additional Opportunities as part of the Jobs Stimulus Package

Grants for creative and cultural operators (closing date has now passed for applications).

Training for Creative and Cultural practitioners




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