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Press Release - Ambassador Mulhall marking the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike

Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Daniel Mulhall, will be in Utah this Thursday and Friday, 9 – 10 May 2019 to participate in events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike – the moment when the 1,776 mile First Transcontinental Railroad was finally completed on May 10th 1869.

The main celebrations will take place tomorrow on Friday 10 May at Promontory Point in Utah – the place of the original Golden Spike – where the Ambassador will deliver a toast in memory of the many Irish, Chinese, Mormon and other workers whose determination, enterprise and personal sacrifice made the dream of linking the two coasts of the United States a reality. The Ambassador will also address a celebratory dinner hosted by Hibernian Society of Utah this evening. 

Speaking about the celebrations the Ambassador said:

“As Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, I am truly proud and honoured to stand here in recognition of the enormous role played by some 10,000 Irish men in the building of the transcontinental railroad whose 150th anniversary we commemorate today. Theirs was a magnificent contribution to the making of modern America.

Those railroad workers were drawn from the six million Irish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic between 1840 and 1900 escaping from famine and seeking better lives for themselves and their families. They and their descendants became part of the fabric of modern America but they never forgot their ancestral Irish homeland. Their achievements in America have been a perennial source of inspiration to the Ireland they left behind. 

Those Irish workers were joined in the great endeavour we celebrate today by many thousands of Chinese workers and others, including from the Mormon settlements, Native Americans and recently-emancipated African Americans”.      

It is estimated ten thousand Irish immigrants, many veterans of the US Civil War, made up at least half of the workers from the Union Pacific railway company working alongside a mix of Mormons, other European immigrants and recently emancipated African Americans to construct the line from the East.

Many Irish also worked alongside the fifteen thousand Chinese immigrants who constituted the main workforce building the line from Sacramento, California to Promontory Summit, Utah.

The celebrations are being organised by the Golden Spike 150 Commission, a body constituted by the Governor and Legislature of Utah to carry out the celebration and commemoration of the 150th anniversary. The theme of the celebrations is focusing on the railroad worker whose labour and sacrifice joined together a new America. 


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