The Story of Cricket in Laois book launch

Every now and again something happens, or takes place, which would warm the cockles of your heart. One such occasion took place on Friday night last, 19 April, at the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise with the launch of the mammoth 444 page The Story of Cricket in Laois, written by James “Jim” Bennett.

This wonderful addition, to not only the wider history of Laois, but to the cricketing history of Ireland, was launched by Teddy Fennelly, a noted author, editor, publisher and historian in all matters Laois related.

The attendance on the evening surpassed all expectations with well in excess of 150 people present, where all were warmly welcomed by Thomas Cosby, President of Laois CC, and Roland Bradley, who with his wife Liz, were instrumental to the success of the book launch.

Representatives of many cricket clubs from around the country were also in attendance, along with family and friends, and several members of the local soccer team who played with Jim during his playing days in Portlaoise.

After Teddy Fennelly had given a wonderful overview of the context of cricket in the wider history of Laois, Roland Bradley introduced Jim, Cricket Leinster President in 2022, to an enraptured audience.

Jim’s whistle stop tour of cricket in Laois from 1833 to the present day whetted the appetite. But it is a book which is much more than just cricket. It is a book which probes the memory; prompts discussion; opens up unknown genealogical links to past cricket teams, and educates the students of the game.

There are accounts of the Gray Russell sports goods manufacturers at Portarlington; Edward Carson, the Unionist leader who played cricket at Arlington House School during his time there; as well as the challenges faced by the cricket community in Laois over the years, parallels which can be seen in neighbouring Tipperary.

Jim’s overview was not complete without a look at the rich hockey tradition in Laois and it was a joy to hear about this aspect of the sporting history of Laois on the night, and then to read about it at leisure in the day’s since.

In rounding off the formal aspect of the evening, Roland Bradley, on behalf of Laois CC, his wife Liz, Jim Bennett and family, Thomas Cosby and Teddy Fennelly, thanked everyone for their attendance at the launch of The Story of Cricket in Laois. 

As a Tipperaryman, albeit with some Laois pedigree, it was a pleasure to be there. With the formalities over, the evening got even better, as the book quickly sold out. The genial cup of tea, or something stronger, facilitated the renewing of old acquaintances and halcyon days on the various sport fields across Laois and further afield.

As noted the book sold out on the night, but another print run is on order, with delivery expected within the next fortnight.

Copies, at €40.00 hardback and €25.00 paperback, may be purchased from Allbooks, Lyster Square, Portlaoise; Whelehan’s Newsagents, Portarlington; Ed. Sports, Pembroke Hockey Club, Dublin 4 or from Laois CC, courtesy Liz Bradley, contact