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History of Rotary

Paul Harris


“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.”

Paul P. Harris

Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.

Our ongoing commitment

Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:

We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.

Notable Rotarians

Rotarians are your neighbors, your community leaders and some of the world’s greatest history-makers:

  • Warren G. Harding, U.S. president
  • Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer
  • Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of Mayo Clinic
  • Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor of the wireless radio and Nobel laureate
  • Thomas Mann, German novelist and Nobel laureate
  • Friedrich Bergius, German chemist and Nobel laureate
  • Admiral Richard E. Byrd, American explorer
  • Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia
  • H.E. Soleiman Frangieh, president of Lebanon
  • Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator
  • Manny Pacquaio, Filipino world-champion boxer and congressman
  • Richard Lugar, U.S. senator
  • Frank Borman, American astronaut
  • Edgar A. Guest, American poet and journalist
  • Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish entertainer
  • Franz Lehar, Austrian composer
  • Lennart Nilsson, Swedish photographer
  • James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney Co.
  • Carlos Romulo, UN General Assembly president
  • Sigmund Sternberg, English businessman and philanthropist

Ready to make history with us? Get involved.

Rotary Newbridge

Another successful days collecting at the Rembrance Tree gets 9ff to a great start. ... See MoreSee Less

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With help from Martin Heydon and friends, Newbridge Rotary Remembrance Tree ... See MoreSee Less

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With help from people like Fiona O'Loughlin, our Remembrance Tree in the Whitewater for Sensational Kids is going very well. ... See MoreSee Less

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Photos from last weeks visit from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Newbridge and the Rotary Club ... See MoreSee Less

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We're getting ready for the visit of Elaine Bannon and her three children - on Monday 13th 6.30pm at the Keadeen Hotel. Here's a video to wet your appetite! ... See MoreSee Less

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On the the 13th November Elaine Bannon will be coming to speak to The Rotary Club of Newbridge. All are welcome

Elaine is originally from Dublin, Ireland and left her job and comfortable lifestyle to live and work in Rombo, Kenya as an unpaid NGO worker (non governmental organisation) in 2002. Elaine was already very aware of the plight of the African people but only when she first visited Kenya and witnessed the extreme poverty for herself did she decide to try and help by joining the Maasai community. Four years later by working with the local Maasai men and women, Elaine has adapted to her role as a teacher, project manager, builder and doctor and has been heavily involved in fundraising and subsequently building small schools, medical clinics and water wells.

In 2010 Elaine was awarded with the Order of the Grand Warrior which is the highest honour the President of Kenya can give for humanitarian endeavour and the first non-Kenyan to be given this honour.
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