Remembering the Revolutionary Women of Laois
An exhibition on Laois Cumann na mBan will be launched in Stradbally Library on Thursday 3rd November at 7 pm. The exhibition was curated by Laois native Bernadette Dunne with the support of Laois County Library as part of its Decade of Centenaries programme.
According to Bernadette Dunne “official records pertaining to the organisation, membership and activities of Cumann na mBan in County Laois are sparse to say the least. Laois is the only county not to have a register of Cumann na mBan members.” At the suggestion of her father, Richard ‘Dick’ Fitzpatrick, whose mother was an active member in Laois, Bernadette launched a project to gather oral histories of the revolutionary women before they were lost forever.
The stories of the Laois women that feature in the exhibition are compiled from official records housed in the Military Archives and the oral histories gathered by Bernadette. The Cumann na mBan exhibition and related events are part of a long-term and on-going engagement by Laois Local Studies in projects bringing back into the light women’s experience of the revolutionary period. It is hoped that the exhibition will encourage the community of Stradbally and vicinity to share and record for posterity more stories relating to the forgotten women of revolutionary Laois.
The exhibition was first launched in Mountmellick Library last July. The event and exhibition raised awareness in the locality of the need to compile and preserve the names and stories of the revolutionary women of Mountmellick. Descendants of the women contacted Bernadette Dunne from as far away as England and America, ensuring their relatives stories would be included in the history of revolutionary Laois.
The exhibition will remain in the Stradbally Library until the end of November and will be exhibited in other Laois library branches in the coming months. If you have information on Laois members of Cumann na mBan that you would like recorded, you can email Bernadette Dunne at firstname.lastname@example.org and Laois Local Studies on email@example.com
Speakers on the night will include historian Regina Dunne, who has researched Cumann na mBan in Laois; Sinead Holland (Laois Local Studies) who is compiling an archive and membership roll of Laois Cumann na mBan; Bernadette Dunne, who will outline her ongoing project to gather oral histories of Laois Cumann na mBan members. All are welcome.