10 May-William Russell Grace

The village of Arles, County Laois, Ireland lies about six kilometres northwest of Carlow town. The Grace family mausoleum is a conspicuous building in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Church in Arles village. The Grace family farmed 100 hectares (250 acres) in nearby Ballylinan County Laois. They were a prominent family who were also involved in quarrying and other local industries. A member of the Grace family, William Russell, was mayor of New York when the Statue of Liberty arrived as a gift from the people of France to the United States of America on June 19th 1885.

William Russell Grace was born in Cobh Co Cork, when his family was there on holidays, in 1832. William was educated locally. He wanted to join the Royal Navy but his father, James, persuaded him to take a position with a ships chandler company in Liverpool. At the age of 16 in 1848 William left Liverpool and moved to New York where he worked at various jobs before returning to Ireland in 1848.

A few years later in 1851 he accompanied his father to Callao in Peru where his father intended to establish an Irish agricultural community farming on sugar plantations. His father returned to Ireland a short time later, but before he did he helped William find a job, again as a ships chandler. William was joined a short time later by his brother James. The brothers eventually took over the company and established Grace Brothers & Co in 1865.

The Grace Brothers became very wealthy supplying ships which were transporting natural fertiliser from the Guano Islands off the coast of Peru to destinations all over the world. In 1865 William, who had married in 1859, moved back to New York for health reasons. He established the head office of his company in the city.

In 1879, having lost the war with Chile, Peru owed $250 million. The debt was taken over by Grace and another Irishman John Hely-Hutchinson, 5th Earl of Donoughmore. The debt was taken over in return for many concessions, including silver mines. W. R. Grace and Co is today one of the biggest chemical and fertiliser companies in the world. It employs over 6,000 people in over 30 countries around the world.

William Grace was elected Mayor of New York on two occasions. He introduced several reforms, reduced the tax rate and fought against corruption. He became a renowned philanthropist, contributing large amounts of humanitarian aid to Ireland during the famine of 1879

With his brother Michael, William established the Grace Institute for the tuition-free education of women, especially emigrants. The Grace Institute still provides non-sectarian, tuition-free education for immigrant women at its school in New York City. William Grace visited Ireland on several occasions. He continued to work in his business until shortly before he died on March 21st 1904 at the age of 71.

William Russell Grace from Ballylinan Co Laois, Ireland, former Mayor of New York and founder of W R Grace and Company was born in the year 1832 On This Day.

W.R. Grace Building, NYC by PhotoHenning on 2013-10-02 19:27:11


Grace family mausoleum, Sacred Heart Church, Arles, Co Laois, Ireland


04 May-Cardinal Spellman

Spellman Park in the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains in the south of County Carlow, Ireland is the location of Kildavin/Clonegal GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club. It is a most picturesque location and is often referred to as the Switzerland of Ireland. The villages of Kildavin and Clonegal are just 4km apart. Clonegal has several tourist attractions including Huntington Castle. The South Leinster Walking Trail begins in Kildavin. The name Spellman became associated with Kildavin/Clonegal through the area’s connection with Cardinal Spellman of New York.

Francis Joseph Spellman was Cardinal Archbishop of New York from 1939 to 1967. His grandmother Ellen Kehoe was a native of Kilbride, Clonegal, Co Carlow. Cardinal Spellman was born in Whitman, Massachusetts, USA in 1889. Following graduation from Fordham University in New York in 1911 he decided to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Rome on May 4th 1916. Having served in numerous posts he was appointed Archbishop of New York in 1939. He was created Cardinal in 1946.

Cardinal Spellman visited Clonegal in 1953, met with local people and visited local schools. He also visited Ireland in 1954. He later contributed $2,000 towards the cost of the Kildavin GAA pitch and the local community hall which were subsequently named in his honour. Cardinal Spellman died on December 2nd 1967 at the age of 78.

Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman was born in the year 1889 On This Day.

Cardinal Spellman 1956




04 May-A P McCoy

A P McCoy is a former horse racing jockey who is a native of Northern Ireland. During his career he was ‘Champion Jockey’ a record 20 consecutive times. McCoy became the first jockey to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010. In 2013 he was named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year. He was knighted in 2016 for his services to horse racing.

A P McCoy was born Anthony Peter McCoy at Moneyglass, County Antrim in 1974. He began his racing apprenticeship at the Jim Bolger stables in Coolcullen on the Carlow/Kilkenny border at the age of 15. He rode his first winner at Thurles racecourse the age of seventeen in 1992. He went on to ride a record 4,358 winners in Ireland and Great Britain during his career. He retired in 2015

A P McCoy, champion horse racing jockey who is a native of Northern Ireland, was born in the year 1974 On This Day.

AP McCoy