Decade of Centenaries


Decade of Centenaries  Laois County Council

Laois County Library Service will publish a book on the lives of Laois women, Helen Roe and Lucy Franks by Historian in Residence, Regina Dunne.

The research on these women was compiled as part of a 2019 and 2020  Decade of Centenaries funded Historian in Residence programme which focused on the role of women in Laois and their contribution to the state and county, to education, and culture in the period of the centenaries and beyond.

The book will be launched later in 2020 and available for researchers and the general public for reference and general reading.

Helen Roe (1895-1988) was born in Mountrath and became the first County Librarian in Laois in 1929. She was a well-known collector of antiquarian items from around the county and delivered a series of travelling lectures on the antiquities of Laois with the aid of her magic lantern. By 1950 she had become one of the chief authorities in the country on pre-Christian antiquities. Her impact on other antiquarians, archaeologists and educators is still spoken about today.

Lucy Franks (1878-1964) was born in Westfield, Castletown. In 1912 she joined the United Irishwomen which then became the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) in 1935 and was president of the ICA from 1942 to 1952. She encouraged Irish involvement in the Association of Country Women of the World and attended many international meetings. An educator and social influencer before her time, Lucy Franks encouraged women to develop their skills to promote cottage market industries that we see in revival today.