Situated in Arles graveyard, the Grace Mausoleum was built in 1818, in place of the original one, erected in 1687, by Oliver Grace, Chief Remembrancer of the Exchequer; by Mrs. Alicia Kavanagh, daughter of Michael Grace of Grace-field; Sir William Grace, Bart; and his brothers Sheffield, Jurisconsult, and Percy, Admiral of the Royal fleet, for themselves and posterity, on the site of the southern wing of the church of Arles.
The following is the inscription upon it, recording the above:
“Hoc sepulchrum Alicia Kavanagh, filia Michaelis Grace de Gracefield, Arm.; Gulielmus Grace, Baronettus, et fratres ejus Sheffieldus, jurisconsultus, Perceus Regiae Classis Praefectus, poni curaverunt, A.D. MDCCCXVIII., sibi posterisque. Quo loco fuit olim Australis ala aedis Arlesianae ab Olivero Grace de Shangano sive Gracefield, Armig. Anno Salutis MDLXXXVII. aedificata, jamdiu vetustate collapsa.”
This mausoleum is fully described and illustrated in the family Annals, compiled by Sheffield Grace.
The Grace family were the descendants of William Fitzgerald, called Raymond Fitzwilliam, who accompanied Richard “Strongbow” de Clare to Ireland in 1170 and who got the name Raymond le Gros from his great size and strength. They received great grants of land in Ossory and were sometimes styled Barons of Tullaroan. They came to Queens County over 200 years ago and settled in the ancient district of Shangana, which they styled Gracefield.
They were a rich and enterprising family and worked a colliery for many years They also had a cotton factory which was later transformed into a corn mill. A descendent of the local Grace family, William Russell Grace, founded the well known international company W.R. Grace & Company (1854).
One of them emigrated to South America early in the 1800’s and was so successful in the shipping business that he established the “Green Line” shipping company. He returned to Ireland and invited emigrants from Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny to travel on his ships to South America where they would get employment.
The Graces of America now operate an air line known as Pan AGRA to South America. One of the family came to Ireland in the 1960’s and became interested in Urney Chocolates Ltd.
The last member of the Grace family in Laois married a Captain White and the beautiful mansions and property passed to J.J. Parkenson, the famous race-horse owner. The place passed through many hands since including an Italian Countess who sold the mansion for the sum of £30,500 in the 50’s.
William Russell Grace (born May 10, 1832, Ballylinan, County Laois, Ireland; died March 21, 1904, New York) was the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York and the founder of W. R. Grace and Company. In 1885 William was Mayor of New York and he accepted the Statue of Liberty from the French on behalf of the American people.
He began his business career in Peru, where he was a partner with the firm of John Bryce, later to become Grace Brothers & Co., and then W. R. Grace & Co.
William Russell Grace was a renowned philanthropist, at one point contributing a quarter of the aid delivered to Ireland aboard the steamship Constellation during the famine of the later 1870s. In 1897, he and his brother, Michael, founded the Grace Institute for the education of women, especially immigrants.
Opposing the famous Tammany Hall, Grace was elected as the first Irish American Catholic mayor of New York City in 1880. He conducted a reform administration attacking police scandals, patronage and organized vice; reduced the tax rate and broke up the Louisiana Lottery. Defeated the following year, he was re-elected in 1884 on an Independent ticket but lost again the following year.