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Laois Co Co - James Fintan Lalor Sculpture
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Official Unveiling of James Fintan Lalor Sculpture
Laois County Council and the Arts Office are delighted to be involved in the commemoration of one of our county’s most influential political sons, James Fintan Lalor.
The county’s monument to the memory of James Fintan Lalor was officially unveiled by, an Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, on 15th December, 2007 at 2.30pm.
A beautiful bronze sculpture, designed and crafted by Mayo-based artist Rory Breslin was commissioned as a result of a two stage competition. It now stands outside the Council Chambers, facing James Fintan Lalor Avenue, Portlaoise’s main thoroughfare.
The sculpture highlights Lalor’s powerful and inspirational writings as he stands, beside the plinth and among his people holding aloft a political pamphlet. Lalor’s writings exerted a seminal influence on patriots such as Connolly and Pearse, Michael Davitt and John Mitchell.
On the limestone base on which he stands are his immortal words ‘Ireland her own, and all therein, from the sod to the sky. The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland.’
Born in Tenakill, Co. Laois in 1807, Lalor was the eldest of twelve children and suffered a spinal injury in early childhood. Yet, this and other illnesses did not prevent him from being a dedicated activist and reformer. In the 1840s as famine raged throughout Ireland, he wrote stirring and controversial letters and articles to newspapers such as The Felon and The Nation. He believed above all else in justice and protecting the human rights of the Irish rural communities. His main focus was on securing land rights for all (Fair Rent, Freedom of Sale and Fixity of Tenure). He was an outspoken critic of the exportation of grain to Britain while the Irish peasantry starved.
Lalor died in prison in 1849 following a failed attack on the RIC barracks in Cappoquin, 25,000 people attended his funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery. In memory he lives on as a man of passion and integrity whose advocacy on behalf of those who were too weak and downtrodden to speak for themselves, eventually cost him his life.
Laois County Council and the Arts Office acknowledge the assistance of the James Fintan Lalor Commemorative Committee and the Department of the Environment who funded the sculpture through the Percent for Arts Scheme.
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