Helen M. Roe was born in 1895 in Mountrath, County Laois. She attended the local national school and Preston School in Abbeyleix and later completed a degree in modern languages in Trinity College. Although her early career was in teaching, her love of books brought her into contact with the Carnegie Trust. She became Laois’ first county librarian, establishing and developing the County Library Service from 1926 to 1939.
Helen Roe was passionate about folklore, medieval history and archaeology and published widely in these fields throughout her life. She became a leading member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and in 1965 had the unique honour of being the first woman elected President of the Society. The society further honoured her by naming its lecture theatre the Helen Roe Lecture Theatre.
The Helen Roe Papers contain her notes on various local history topics, such as the placenames of Laois. The collection also includes images from her original lantern slides taken in the 1930s to support her series of Lantern Lectures on the Antiquities of Laoighis.
Copyright is held by Laois County Library