ndrew Carnegie, Scottish-born multi-millionaire and philanthropist, was formally invested with the freedom of the city in a ceremony at City Hall, Waterford on October 19, 1903. Immediately after the ceremony he laid the foundation stone of the Carnegie Free Library in Lady Lane. The following is the newspaper report of the proceedings, taken from The Express.

    Mr. Andrew Carnegie, by whose princely generosity the citizens of Waterford have been enabled to provide the magnificent new Free Library, which is now in course of erection in Lady Lane, arrived in Waterford from Dublin on Monday at half-past one o'clock. The illustrious visitor, who was accompanied only by his Private Secretary (Mr Bertram) and a valet, was met at the railway terminus by the Mayor (Mr. James A. Power, TC) and the Town Clerk (Mr. James J. Feely, solicitor), and the Municipal Staff. The train steamed into the station to the salute of many fog signals, and Mr. Carnegie was escorted to a carriage in waiting, and, accompanied by the Mayor, Town Clerk, and his Private Secretary, drove to the Imperial Hotel. The presentation of the Freedom took place in the Council Chamber, there being a full attendance of the members of the Corporation, and the spacious room was crowded to excess with ladies and gentlemen who were admitted by ticket.

    The Mayor, who on coming forward to make the presentation was received with loud applause, said: I have great pleasure in presenting you with the Certificate of the Freedom of the City of Waterford, conferred on you by the unanimous vote of the Council of the Corporation—one of the most ancient and historic Corporations in Ireland. Although it is the highest honour that can be conferred by a Corporation to anyone outside its own body, still it is only significant of your high worth as a philanthropist, and a slight recognition of you as a great citizen and the most generous of mankind (applause). We are doubly indebted to you, in the first place for your princely gift that enables us to erect and equip that building, the foundation stone of which you will shortly lay, and secondly for coming here today and and paying us the honour of being the first city in Ireland to enrol you among its citizens. Your name is revered in two hemispheres, not so much for the unceasing flow of your donations, but for their wise and lasting selection. The world is aware that churches have been built, and colleges have been endowed by your munificence, but it is also remembered that libraries have sprung up in hundreds by your almost magic hand—libraries often the home and the hope of the worker and the student, and the happiness of many (applause). To some the world would be a blank without its literature, a waste without its books, or as a year without spring, a summer without roses. To many it is given to acquire riches, to few it is given to wisely use and bestow them. You, sir, by the power of an indomitable will and boundless energy, have amassed wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, and you have set an example to those similarly placed by distributing that wealth freely in your lifetime, and in that distribution you know no country, no creed, nor politics—your only desire seems to be to do good to others and foster peace and happiness in all (hear, hear, and applause). In accepting this certificate, please also accept the most grateful thanks of the citizens of Waterford, which I have the honour to tender you (loud applause).

    Mr. Carnegie affixed his signature to the Roll of Freemen amid much applause.

    Mr. Carnegie, who was received with loud cheers, then said—Mr. Mayor, magistrates, ladies and gentlemen, a fortunate man, indeed, am I who is privileged to speak his first public word in Ireland in this old and historical city of Waterford (applause). It is my first word in Ireland, and yet I cannot say that it is the first time that I have ever addressed an Irish audience, for I have had often to speak in the city of New York—and you all know what an Irish city that is (applause). And I have spoken in Pittsburg, and you know its Scotch-Irish character. I don't know why it is that I have never felt as a stranger amongst the thousands—yes, I may say tens of thousands of your people who have been in my service, and in my business career I never had any trouble with the Irish (loud applause). I don't know what to account for this. I think it must be the Celtic blood in me as a Highland Scotchman must make me somewhat akin to you; but, at all events, I have always been proud when Irishmen said they liked the "Little Boss" (laughter and applause), and I think that is the reason which reminds me of the little nursery rhyme about "Mary had a little lamb"—


"What made the lamb love Mary so, Mary so, Mary so?
What made the lamb love Mary so, Mary so, Mary so?
Mary loved the lamb."

(laughter and applause). I think that is the root of management of men of Celtic blood; you come to love them and to trust them, and they will stand to you (applause). I have been reading up your history. Waterford has a long and interesting history and many distinctions, one of the chief being, as I remember, that it successfully resisted Cromwell (applause). I understand Strongbow landed here, as did more than one of the kings of England in those sad days; but though Strongbow came to capture he was made captive himself—he was married here (laughter). The days of those invasions were over. The invasions you have now are by those who come to see Ireland, for we travellers must must all see Ireland (applause), so attracted by its history, so charmed by its people, and, I think, so moved by its long and chequered history (applause). Your past history is sacred. Nothing can take from Waterford the memory of a thousand years, and I am delighted that you are taking care of the present that is to become history ...



Copyright © 2006 Waterford History