In 1820 an Irish immigrant arrived in Valencia, long before there were any Irish pubs; not even Finnegan’s!
He came from Limerick and his name was Thomas Trenor Keating, names beginning with Tre- being a clear indication of Celtic origin.
He would make his fortune by exporting Valencian raisins and currants to northern Europe and with Peruvian guano.
Today the Trenor family has about 500 members in Valencia and all over the world, probably even in Ireland, and this family has left its mark on the Valencia of yesterday and of today.
Of all the family members, perhaps the most relevant was Tomás Trenor Palavicino, who in 1909 invested his energy, resources in health in the Valencia Expo, an extraordinary collective effort to promote Valencia and to encourage a sense of pride in Valencia.
In doing so he ruined himself financially and destroyed his own health, dying four years later.
For his efforts he was named Marqués de Turia by King Alfonso XII, a regular visitor to the Expo, and, ironically, his name was given to the avenue that passes through one of the most prosperous parts of the city.
His first career was a military one, attending the artillery academy of Segovia, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Later he would become President of the Ateneo Mercantil, with its impressive headquarters in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, an honour which inspired him to launch the Expo, largely to pressurize Madrid to improve communications with Valencia and also to claim the El Saler area for the city.
He took the opportunity of the Expo also to commission a regional anthem for Valencia from Maestro Serrano.
Always a man of international vision, he ran the ‘Sociedad Hispano-Africana de Crédito y Fomento’ and in 1913 founded the ‘Liga Africanista Española’.
The family home was in the ‘Palacio de los Barones de Alacuás’ in Calle Trinquete de Caballeros number 9, nowadays the headquarters of the cultural association Lo Rat Penat, and a good candidate for the not so secret Batman residence.
A plaque in his honour can be seen on one of the remaining Expo buildings, the Municipal Palace, next to the Westin Hotel.