May 10th 2023

Title: From Elegance To Economics: The story of LACE in Ireland
[N.B. this talk was previously cancelled in December 2022 due to poor weather]
Speaker: Bernadine Nic Ghiolla Phádraig
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Bernadine Ní Ghiollapádraig.

From Aóife (December 2022): “If anyone has an interesting piece of lace to show that evening, maybe from the bottom drawer, feel free to bring it along”.

Please click on any image below to open a photo gallery.

Links to original image sources:
1. Source:
2. Source:
3. Source: – – Image:
4. Source:
5. Source: – – Website:
6. Source:–17873729741578582/

April 12th 2023

Title ‘Sir John Gray’
Speaker: Vincent O’Reilly
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Statue of Sir John Gray in O’Connell Street

Sir John Gray: Brief Highlights.

  • Born Claremorris, Mayo, 13th July 1815
  • Studied medicine at Trinity College and the University of Glasgow
  • Hospital appointment Dublin 1839
  • Married Mary Dwyer and had 5 children
  • Joint Proprietor of the Dublin Freeman’s Journal 1841
  • Sole Proprietor in 1850
  • Political party: Liberal Party, Home Rule League
  • Promoted the Vartry Scheme to provide clean water for Dublin.
  • Knighted 30th June1863
  • MP for Kilkenny City 1865 – 1875
  • Died at Bath 9th April 1875.
  • Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
  • Statue erected in O’Connell Street 1879.

Click on any image to enlarge.

The Freeman’s Journal: Click on any image to enlarge.

Research & image sources:

March 8th 2023

Title ‘A Time to Risk All’
Speaker: Clodagh Finn
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Mary Elmes: image from Clodagh Finn’s book ‘A Time to Risk All’

Book Introduction


Clodagh Finn has travelled throughout Europe to piece together the story of this remarkable, unknown Irish woman, meeting many of those children Mary Elmes saved. Here, in a book packed with courage, heroism, adventure and tragedy, her story is finally remembered.

The children called her ‘Miss Mary’, and they remember her kindness still. She gave them food and shelter and later risked her life to help them escape the convoys bound for Auschwitz.

Turning her back on a brilliant academic career, Mary Elmes ventured into a war zone to help children in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, she fled Franco’s forces but continued to work with refugees in France when the Second World War broke out. In 1942, when it became evident that Jews were being deported to their deaths, she smuggled children to safety in the boot of her car. She was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo, but went straight back to work after her release.

When the war was over, Mary married and settled down, never speaking about what she had done. Her story was forgotten. In A Time to Risk All her remarkable story is finally remembered as it should be.

From left: Patrick Danjou, son of Mary Elmes; Charlotte Berger-Greneche; Clodagh Finn, journalist and author; Georges Koltein and Sally and John Wilkes at the ceremony to mark the official opening of Cork’s newest bridge, the Mary Elmes Bridge on Sept. 27, 2019.
The bridge was named in memory of Mary, who, along with co-workers, rescued over 400 children from deportation to Auschwitz from a holding camp in South West France.
Pic: Brian Lougheed

Please click on any image below to open a photo gallery.

About the Author
Excerpt from:

Clodagh Finn
Photo by Nick Bradshaw.

Author Clodagh Finn has always been inspired by stories, particularly around the landscape that she grew up in, in Kerry. Her family, particularly her dad and her Auntie Mary, were wonderful storytellers and it was perhaps because of their gift of the gab that Clodagh became more fascinated by story writing.

‘They brought the places we visited to life with tales of haunted castles and piseogs but they also told the real stories of shipwrecks and missing treasure, ancient saints and holy wells, sacred places and others marred by massacre and cruelty,’ she tells me.

Writing and reading became more than just hobbies and Clodagh went on to study journalism in Dublin. She worked as a journalist for the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Independent, the Irish Independent and as a freelance writer and editor in Paris.

Recent publication

Through Her Eyes
by Clodagh Finn

Told through the prism of the lives of 21 extraordinary women, this remarkable book offers an alternative vision of Irish history – one that puts the spotlight on women whose contributions have been forgotten or overlooked.

From a Stone Age farmer who lived in Co. Clare more than 5,000 years ago to the modern-day founder of a 3D printing company, this book opens a fascinating window onto the life and times of some amazing women whose stories were shaped by the centuries in which they lived.


February 8th 2023

Title ‘The Earliest Arrivals’
Speaker: John Dolan
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Brief excerpt from: ‘The Earliest Arrivals/Humans in Offaly’, by John Dolan

“Long before homo sapiens emerged out of Africa dinosaurs roamed across the earth 200 – 145 million years ago. They roamed the European landscape and evidence of their existence can be found in nearly all European countries. Many examples have been found in Britain, mainly in the south.  A Sauropod found in Dorset has been dated to 168 – 166 million years old.

During the 1980s four unusual bones were found along the Antrim coastline but were not recognised. They sat in boxes in the National Museum Northern Ireland until 2020 when they were re-examined in an attempt to identify them. Two of the bones were identified as dinosaurs but from two different species. One of them was the leg bone of a two-footed meat-eating Megalosaurus from 166 million years ago, while the second bone came from a four-footed, plant-eating Scelidosaurus from 191 million years ago.  It is likely that these animals arrived in Ireland when Ireland and Europe were one land mass”.

Megalosaurus & Scelidosaurus.

Aghnadarragh Mammoth tusk & Woolly Mammoth.

About the Author:
John Dolan is a prolific writer covering a diverse range of historical topics including:
Saint Piran – of Seir Kieran, Offaly? By John Dolan
Manuscripts from Early Offaly Monasteries. By John Dolan
Early Church Enclosures in Offaly. By John Dolan
The Earliest Arrivals/Humans in Offaly. By John Dolan
Crannógs in County Offaly. By John Dolan
The Round Towers of County Offaly. By John Dolan
The Dowris Hoard. By John Dolan
John O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters of King’s County, 1837 – 1838: Banagher, Clonmacnoise, Fercall, and Durrow. By John Dolan
John O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters of Kings County, 1837 – 1838: Scientific Survey, Clan Maliere and Placenames. By John Dolan
The Vikings in Offaly. By John Dolan

As you can see from the above list, many of John’s articles are posted and maintained on:

January 11th 2023

Title ‘The Civil War in Dublin’
Speaker: John Dorney
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

John Dorney’s book: ‘The Civil War in Dublin: The fight for the Irish Capital 1922-1924’

“While the Irish Civil War first erupted in Dublin, playing out through the seizure and eventual recapture of the Four Courts, it quickly swept over the entire country. In ‘The Civil War in Dublin’ John Dorney extends his study of Dublin beyond the Four Courts surrender, delivering shocking revelations of calculated violence and splits within the pro-Treaty armed forces. Dorney’s exacting research, using primary sources and newly available eyewitness testimonies from both sides of the conflict, provides total insight into how the entire city of Dublin operated under conditions of disorder and bloodshed: how civilians and guerrillas controlled the streets, female insurgents operated alongside their male counterparts, the patterns of IRA violence and National Army counter-insurgency alternated, and – for the first time – how the pro-Treaty ‘Murder Gang’ emerged from Michael Collins’ IRA Intelligence Department, ‘the Squad’. The Civil War in Dublin brings the city to life through meticulous detail and reveals unsettling and shocking truths about the extreme actions taken by a burgeoning Irish Free State and its Anti-Treaty opponents”.

John Dorney via

About the author:
“John Dorney is an independent historian and chief editor of the Irish Story website. He is the author of ‘Peace After the Final Battle: The Story of the Irish Revolution 1912-1924’ (2014) and ‘Griffith College Dublin: A History of its Campus’ (2013)”.

The Four Courts ablaze during the battle, 30 June 1922

Brief background to the Battle of Dublin:
The ‘Battle of Dublin’ was a week of street battles in Dublin from 28 June to 5 July 1922 that marked the beginning of the Irish Civil War. Six months after the Anglo-Irish Treaty ended the recent Irish War of Independence, it was fought between the forces of the new Provisional Government and a section of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that opposed the Treaty.

The Irish Citizen Army also became involved in the battle, having supported the anti-Treaty IRA in the O’Connell Street area. The fighting began with an assault by Provisional Government forces on the Four Courts building, and ended in a decisive victory for the Provisional Government.

Other sources: The Irish History Show: Episode 1 – The Civil War in Dublin and Cork via

December 14th 2022 [CANCELLED]

Please note that this talk has bee cancelled due to the inclement weather conditions.

Title ‘Irish Lace in the 19th Century: From Elegance to Economics’
Speaker: Bernadine Nic Ghiolla Phádraig
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Bernadine Nic Ghiolla Phádraig.

From Aóife: “If anyone has an interesting piece of lace to show that evening, maybe from the bottom drawer, feel free to bring it along. Raffle and mince pies to follow”.

Please click on any image below to open a photo gallery.

Links to original image sources:
1. Source:
2. Source:
3. Source: – – Image:
4. Source:
5. Source: – – Website:
6. Source:–17873729741578582/

November 9th 2022

Title ‘Rebel Stateman: The Life & Times of W.T. Cosgrave’
First President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
Speaker: Liz Gillis & Catherine Scuffil
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

William Thomas Cosgrave (5 June 1880 – 16 November 1965) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as the president of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932, leader of the Opposition in both the Free State and Ireland from 1932 to 1944, leader of Fine Gael from 1934 to 1944, founder and leader of Fine Gael’s predecessor, Cumann na nGaedheal, from 1923 to 1933, chairman of the Provisional Government from August 1922 to December 1922, the president of Dáil Éireann from September 1922 to December 1922, the minister for Finance from 1922 to 1923 and minister for Local Government from 1919 to 1922. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1921 to 1944. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Kilkenny constituency from 1918 to 1922.[1]

While Cosgrave never officially held the office of Taoiseach (the current title of Ireland’s prime minister, created in 1937), he is recognised to have been the first Taoiseach due to having been the Free State’s first head of government. His son, Liam, served as Taoiseach from 1973 to 1977.

Left image: Cosgrave (holding furled umbrella) visiting the sugar beet processing factory at Strawhall, County Carlow October 1926

Right image: Cosgrave (standing, far-right, wearing the star and sash of the Order of Pope Pius IX) representing the Irish Free State at the 1926 Imperial Conference in London, along with King George V and the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


About the Authors:

Liz Gillis is an author and historian from the Liberties. She has a Diploma in Classical Animation Studies and a Degree in Irish History. Liz currently works as a Researcher for the History Show on RTE Radio and has lectured at Champlain College since 2018. She was a Curatorial Assistant in RTE, specialising in researching the Easter Rising and a tour guide for many years in Kilmainham Gaol. Liz is the author of six books about the Irish Revolution. In 2018 Liz was a recipient of the Lord Mayor’s Award for her contribution to history.
Source: Champlain College.

Catherine Scuffil has an MA in Local History from Maynooth University. She is currently the Historian in Residence for Dublin’s South Central area which includes the historic Liberties and some of the city’s oldest suburbs. Catherine has written a number of local history books and an abridged version of her MA thesis was awarded the Old Dublin Society’s silver medal in 2018.
Source: History on Your Doorstep.

October 12th 2022

Title ‘The Country House as an Object of Curiosity’
Speaker: Dr. Patricia McCarthy
Time: @ 7:45 PM Apx. – N.B. The A.G.M. starts @ 7:30 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Patricia is an architectural historian.  She has published widely in a number of  publications such as the Irish Georgian Society, Country Life and the Irish Arts Review. She has published 4 books, the most recent one published by the Four Courts Press is titled ‘Enjoying Claret in Ireland: a History of Amiable Excess’. She has contributed to two volumes of the Royal Irish Academy’s Art and Architecture of Ireland (2014).

P.S. At the meeting on 12 October at 7.30 p.m. we start with our A.G.M. – Subs for the coming year, more anon when the committee have had the opportunity of meeting. If anyone has a motion for the A.G.M. let me know before next weekend (8th Oct.).

This should be a great evening. Hoping to see you all there.

One Example of Patricia McCarthy’s Books:
Life in the Country House in Georgian Ireland
Publication date: 24th May 2016
ISBN: 9780300218862
Price: Hardcover €114.06; Paperback €27.09 via Amazon


For aristocrats and gentry in 18th-century Ireland, the townhouses and country estates they resided in were carefully constructed to accommodate their cultivated lifestyles. Based on new research from Irish national collections and correspondence culled from papers in private keeping, this book provides a vivid and engaging look at the various ways in which families tailored their homes to their personal needs and preferences. While remarkably flexible, these houses were arranged in accordance with their residents’ daily practices, demonstrating a distinction between public and private spaces, and the roles and arrangements of the servants in their purposeful layouts. With careful consideration given to both the practicality of everyday routine and the occasional special event, this book illustrates how the lives and houses of these people were inextricably woven together.

Dr Patricia McCarthy is an independent architectural historian based in Dublin.

About the Author:

Image: Dr. Patricia McCarthy

Trinity College Dublin
Bachelor of Arts, the History of Art and Architecture; Classical CivilisationBachelor of Arts.
PhD awarded in 2009: Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture thesis entitled: ‘The Planning, Layout and Use of Space in Irish Houses 1730 – 1830’.

University College Dublin
Diploma, History of European Painting

September 14th 2022

Title ‘Ireland’s Special Branch’
Speaker: Gerard Lovett
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Gerard Lovett will speak to us about the content of his new book: Ireland’s Special Branch (see details below)

The book will be available to purchase. Helen Dunne of Wordwell, the publishers, will be there with books for sale on the night. The price is €20.00. This book took long years of research so congratulations are due to Gerard on his achievement.

This will be a live talk at the Iona Centre so please make a special effort to attend. The meeting starts at 7.45 p.m. Admission for members is €3 and for visitors €5. A Cupán Tae will follow. The AGM will be in October and is also the time for renewal of subs.

Hoping to see you all,


Ireland’s Special Branch: The inside story of their battle with the IRA and other groups 1922-1947.

Publication date: August 2022
ISBN: 978-1-913934-29-3
Price: €20

“A gang of police thugs.”

“Renegades and perverted types.”

These were just some of the ways in which the men and women of the Garda Special Branch were described by their enemies within the anti-Treaty IRA. What follows in this work is the gripping narrative of the often brutal and violent struggle for supremacy between these two sides.

It explores the foundation and the inner workings of a squad of detectives, initially called the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), based in Oriel House, Dublin, in August 1922 and their transition into what became known as the Special Branch. It further details the history of the turbulent decades which followed, and the regular confrontations with the IRA in which many officers of Ireland would make the ultimate sacrifice. 

About the Author:

Gerard Lovett is a retired member of An Garda Síochána and retired as a detective inspector in the Garda Special Branch in 2004. Since then, he was general secretary of the Garda Síochána Retired Members’ Association for seven years and was editor of their quarterly magazine Síocháin. He has written numerous articles on police history and has regularly given lectures to historical societies on both garda and RIC history, as well as famous historical murder cases.