Melbourne writer, poet, teacher and respected elder of the Australian Lalor Clan, Christine Lalor Gillespie died recently after a long struggle with serious illness.
Christine was the great great grand daughter of the leader of the Eureka Stockade, Peter Lalor. In the many tributes paid, Christine was described as having ‘the spirit of her great great grand uncle, James Fintan Lalor, the famous Irish rebel.
Christine was one of the foundation members of Eureka’s Children and among her many writings were articles relating to Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade. Her works were published in Australia, France, Malaysia and India.
She wrote a play titled ‘Women of Eureka’, which premiered at the Carlton Courthouse in Melbourne and she always promoted the important role played by women during the Eureka uprising. Christine spent time in Ireland and was the first Australian Lalor to visit the ancestral family home Tenakill, County Laois, Ireland in more than a century and was responsible for re-establishing renewed links between the Irish and Australian Lalor families.
So much of Christine’s life was driven by her thirst for social justice. She worked relentlessly for the rights of disadvantaged women and those suffering from breast cancer as well as people with disabilities.
Although seriously ill, Christine was part of a group that fought for the return of the bodies of young Australian soldiers killed in the Vietnam War, including her younger brother John Lalor Gillespie. As always, the struggle was successful and John’s body with others was brought home to rest in peace. Again, while seriously ill, Christine completed her PhD in Creative Writing.
In one tribute, her cousin Susan Lalor White wrote: ‘With her indomitable spirit and zest for life it seemed she would be with us forever. Christine was truly inspirational. She was an amazing person.’ Christine was farewelled at a large celebration in the chapel of the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne.