Peter Lalor descendant visits Ballarat to honour ancestor

By Tom McIlroy
Updated November 2 2012 - 7:33am, first published January 11 2012 - 8:44pm
TRIBUTE: Margot Coogan is a descendant of Peter Lalor.

HE is Ballarat’s favourite son and a giant of Australian history, and the legend of Peter Lalor has long been retold around the world. Another chapter has been added to that story this week as Margot Coogan, the chieftain of the Lalor clan of Ireland’s County Laois visited Ballarat and paid tribute to her ancestor at Lalor’s statue in Sturt Street. Recently elected as the head of the clan, Ms Coogan said she was overwhelmed by the opportunity to make a two-week visit to the city where Peter Lalor had led the Eureka Stockade. “Already it has been extremely moving for me to be here in the city of Peter Lalor,” she said. During the visit she will meet with other descendents of Lalor, including Peter Kennedy, who is accompanying her during the visit. Ms Coogan said she was pleased that Lalor’s legacy as a member of Parliament, a Minister and later Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Council was well known in Australia. “It is my wish that the Lalor family around the world will know of the great things that Peter Lalor did here in Ballarat and in Australia. “I hope that as a result of my visit that story will be spread more,” Ms Coogan said. This week she will visit Lalor’s grave in Melbourne’s General Cemetery to scatter rocks and water brought from Fintan’s Well, where he grew up. The visit will also take in the Blood on the Southern Cross light show at Sovereign Hill, which tells the story of the Eureka Stockade in dramatic fashion. Ms Coogan said she hoped her visit would also raise awareness of other members of the Lalor family, including writer James Fintan Lalor and Irish member of Parliament and Peter Lalor’s brother, Richard Lalor who returned to his homeland from Australia. “Everything I have seen has been exactly what I imagined it would be in my mind,” she said. “In many ways it has been like coming home for me.”