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Fiske Celebrations

The Fiske Monument. Photo María H. Tryggvadóttir
The Fiske Monument. Photo María H. Tryggvadóttir

On the last Saturday, the Fiske-Celebration took place in Grímsey, as is the custom every year. This celebration honors the island's patron, Mr. Daniel Willard Fiske, coinciding with Fiske's birthday on the 11th of November. A delicious buffet dinner was served in the community center, followed by a ball. Currently, almost 30 people are staying on the island, and they celebrated the day together.

The Fiske-Celebration is an annual event held in Grímsey on November 11 to commemorate the birthday of Daniel Willard Fiske (1831-1904), a benefactor of the community who never set foot on Grímsey's land. Fiske, an American professor at Cornell University in New York State, USA, learned Icelandic during his studies in Denmark in 1849. He collected all available Icelandic material in print, along with photographs of Iceland. A significant collection of Icelandic books and photographs is now preserved at Cornell.

In 1879, while sailing around the country, Fiske saw Grímsey and was fascinated by its hardworking population and cultural interest. The Grímsey people, known for their chess skills, engaged in correspondence with Fiske, who was a great chess enthusiast. This marked the beginning of his enduring friendship with the island, lasting for the rest of his life.

In 1901, Fiske brought a large library to the island, named the Island Library, which is now preserved in the school's library in its original bookcases. In his will, Fiske bequeathed an auspicious fund, Willard Fiske's Grímsey Island Fund, to improve housing and enhance human life on the island. As a sign of gratitude, several boys in Grímsey were baptized with his name.

On the island, there stands a monument to Fiske by the sculptor Gunnar Árnason, donated by the local Kiwanis Club. It was unveiled on November 11, 1998."