15 December-Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid monument in the world. It was built by Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923). Eiffel was a French engineer, whose early work focussed chiefly on bridges. Eiffel also built the metallic skeleton which supports the copper exterior of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbour. The statue was delivered to New York as a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was officially received in 1885 by the Mayor of New York William Russell Grace, who was a native of Ballylinan Co Laois.

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was born in Dijon, France in 1832. He was educated locally and later at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, in Paris. Following graduation in 1855 he specialised in building bridges in France and abroad. Eiffel built the Maria Pia Bridge over the river Douro in Portugal. The bridge was completed in 1877.

Eiffel began building the Eiffel Tower in 1887 on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. It was the entrance arch for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair). The Exposition was held to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The tower which is 324 metres tall was the tallest building in the world when it was completed.

Many people initially criticised the Eiffel Tower and felt it was an eyesore. Some people would dine in the restaurant at the base in order to avoid seeing the tower. It is today one of the best known structures in the world and attracts an estimated seven million visitors every year. Eiffel died in Paris at the age of 92 on December 27th 1923.

Alexandre Eiffel was born in Dijon, France in the year 1832 On This Day.

Gustave Eiffel by Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections on 2009-08-24 09:02:33

Eiffel by vl8189 on 2013-07-07 00:12:06

Gustave Eiffel photo

Photo by ThePixelman (Pixabay)


01 September-Dunmore Cave

The Dunmore Cave is located about 11 Km North of Kilkenny City, Ireland close to the road linking the city to Castlecomer town. The cave contains many passages and is 150 feet below the surface at its deepest. It is open to the public and has been a national monument since 1940.

Reference to the cave, which is a 300 million years old limestone formation, can be found in documents dating back centuries. The Annals, for instance, tell of a Viking massacre which occurred at the cave in 928 AD. Later investigations showed that the remains discovered were the bodies of nineteen female adults and twenty five children. Excavations at various times have uncovered bodies, coins, weapons and various artefacts dating back to Viking times. The cave is referred to in many publications including the Dublin Penny Journal. Kilkenny native Bishop George Berkeley wrote an account of a visit he made to the cave in 1706.

At the end of the 1999 tourist season, a tourist guide who was tidying up discovered a hoard of silver and bronze items which dated back to 970 AD. Among the items found were some coins from the North East of England and others from Baghdad. Officials described the find as “very exciting and of major significance”. The cave was closed to the public so that further archaeological works could be carried out. The announcement of the discovery of the hoard of coins and jewellery which was over 1,000 years old, and its transfer to the National Museum in Dublin was made on January 13th 2000. Following the archaeological works extensive redevelopment at the cave was undertaken before it was reopened to the public in 2003.

The Dunmore Cave in Co Kilkenny was the subject of an article in the Dublin Penny Journal in the year 1832 On This Day.

Dunmore Cave by Olivier Bruchez on 2011-08-01 17:09:44

Dunmore Cave by Olivier Bruchez on 2011-08-01 17:15:27

Dunmore Cave by Olivier Bruchez on 2011-08-01 17:23:32

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