Local History Publication

Opening a Window on the Past



This wonderful new publication by historian Regina Dunne explores the lives of two remarkable Laois women: Lucy Franks and Helen Roe.

Gertrude Lucy Maria Franks of the Castletown United Irishwomen (ICA), was instrumental in reviving the Irish Countrywomen’s Association in the late 1920s and establishing the Country Shop in St. Stephens Green, Dublin. In addition, Lucy Franks supported attendance at the Spring Fairs in the RDS, helped to establish the annual summer school which still takes place today, and was a founding member of the Association of Country Women of the World. Her impact on rural women’s associations both nationally and internationally is recognised in this publication. The publication tells the tale of the early days of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association in Laois and it’s revival through an era of turmoil in Irish history.

Helen Maybury Roe of Mountrath was the first County Librarian, first female President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI), and a staunch advocate for local history, folklore, and opening the windows of the world to everyone in Laois both young and old through stories, and books. In her Ford Model T, she travelled the roads of Laois delivering lectures on local history, flora and fauna, recording local folklore, photographing ancient archaeology, and was a firm believer in preserving local history. Known widely in the area of Early Christian Art and ‘the world of stone’, this publication explores her extensive work on the local history of Laois and her life as the first County Librarian in Laois.

The book delves into the lives and times of both influential women, and acknowledges their pioneering work during an era of change in Irish history. The book is completed with the thanks to Laois County Library Services, the Laois Decade of Centenaries Programme, and supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council.

The book can be purchased in Allbooks in Portlaoise, Centra, Spar, Cosy Café, Eddie Phelan’s and Bloom HQ in Mountrath.  It can also be purchased in all Laois Library branches at the cost of €15.  To obtain the publication by post just contact library headquarters (details below), and additional postage charge will apply.


Address: Laois County Library HQ, The Old Mill, Church Street, Portlaoise, R32 HDA3.

Phone: 0578594982 /0578594983/05785 94985 (please use full number when dialing)

Email: library@laoiscoco.ie

Read More News Stories