James Fintan Lalor
A beautiful bronze statue, designed by Rory Breslin stands outside Laois County Council Chambers dedicated to the memory of Irish revolutionary and writer James Fintan Lalor. The adjacent road is called James Fintan Lalor Avenue.
The inscription on the plinth reads
“ Ireland her own and all therein, from the sod to the sky,
The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland”
James Fintan Lalor was born in 1807 in Tinnakill House, Raheen, Co. Laois. His father Patrick was an extensive farmer and was the first Catholic M.P. for Laois from 1832 – 1835. The household was a very political one where active discussion on national issues was encouraged.
Because of an accident when he was young James was semi crippled all his life. He was not a very healthy young man and consequently was educated at home. He spent some time attending college in Carlow but was forced to return home because of his health.
His father Patrick was passionately opposed to the payment of tithes and urged Catholics not to pay. James supported this stand but it was the land question and the power of the landlords to evict tenants that exercised James in particular. His father was also a great supporter of Daniel O’Connell and the Repeal movement. James did not however support the Repeal movement considering it flawed. As a result, a rift occurred between James and his father on this question. Such was the rift that James left home and spent time in Belfast and Dublin. He finally returned home due to ill health and healed his differences with his father.
It was while writing from home that James achieved national prominence. His writings had a profound effect on such figures as Michael Davitt, Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Arthur Griffith. He contributed articles to “The Nation” and “The Felon” He advocated rent strikes and active resistance to any wrongdoings. His central theme was the rights of the tenant farmer to his own land. In his opinion land reform was the biggest issue of the time. He wrote articles such as “What must be done”, “The Faith of a felon”, “Resistance” and “Clearing Decks”. It was he said time for revolution and active resistance. This was especially evident during famine years when tenants were being evicted for non payment of rent. As a result he was arrested and imprisoned. Upon his release he continued to write. He was now a nationally acclaimed writer, revolutionary and reformer. Ill health one again curtailed his efforts. Bronchitis eventually brought about his early death at the age of 43. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetary.