James Lalor was born in 1888 in Kilkenny City. He was sworn into the IRB in 1905 as a seventeen year old by Peter deLoughry. At this time there was a resurgence of the political and military aims of the organization in the county. At the age of 26 he joined the Irish National Volunteers on 5 March 1914, when a Kilkenny City Company was formed during a large meeting was held on the parade. All new volunteers were enlisted in the town hall on the night. Around this time he was working with his father in his building business in Friary Street, Kilkenny.
Following the split in the Volunteers, Lalor was appointed Section Commander of No. 1 Section of the Irish Volunteers in Kilkenny, during this time he was very active in supervising training as well as attending various training exercises and camps around the region . After mobilising for Easter 1916 he was sent to limerick By Commandant Ginger O Connell to assess the situation there, this task involved making a round journey on a motorcycle. He was arrested on 5 May and eventually imprisoned in Frongoch Internment Camp in North Wales. He was released in August 1916.
During the summer of 1917 Lalor assisted in the organisation of Volunteer companies in a number of towns and villages in county Kilkenny. Once this organisation was underway a decision was made to form four battalions and James Lalor was elected Vice O/C or Vice Commandant of the Kilkenny city battalion. In 1918 further reorganisation of the Volunteers led to the formation of the Kilkenny Brigade and Lalor was elected Brigade Vice-Commandant. Towards the end of 1918 he was appointed Director of Elections for the Sinn Féin candidates in Kilkenny city and county. He took part in the deliberate and planned assault on Hugginstown RIC Barracks on 8th March 1920. This attack was successful and RIC constable Ryan was fatally wounded during the operation. Sometime after Lalor was arrested and detained in Kilkenny jail he was transferred to Cork Prison and from there to Belfast Prison where he took part in a hunger strike. After fifteen days he was transferred to the Union Hospital and then home to Kilkenny. Lalor was arrested again in September 1920 and kept in custody in Ballykinlar Camp until the general release a few days after the signing of the Treaty on 6 December 1921. James Lalor remained a committed Republican throughout his life. He acted on the Brigade Committee facilitating applications for Military Service Pensions as well as travelling to Dublin to attend Advisory Committee meetings to discuss the particulars of cases made by members of the Kilkenny Brigade. He provided references and advice to members of the IRA companies in Kilkenny. Between 1935 and 1936 he acted as one of the Treasurers for the Hennessy-Dermody memorial commemorating two volunteers who were killed during an encounter with British forces on Friary Street Kilkenny city on the 05th March 1921. He was also involved in Republican associations such as the Old IRA Comrade’s Association and Irish Republican Army Federation, attending meetings and involving himself in administrative matters at a local level. He maintained a lifelong interest in military matters and served as District Engineer in the Kilkenny Local Defence Force during the Emergency.
James Lalor died on and is buried in Tulla cemetery Treecastles.