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The Princess Grace Irish Library was created to pay tribute to Princess Grace’s attachment to her Irish roots.

Operating under the aegis of the Princess Grace Foundation, the Princess Grace Irish Library was officially opened by Prince Rainier III in 1984, two years after the death of his wife. Located on the Rocher, it houses more than 12,000 books, some of which have been gifted by donors including Karl Lagerfeld.

First and foremost, the library is home to Princess Grace’s personal collection of Irish books, which once lined the shelves of her office in the Prince’s Palace (the collection includes first editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922).

With her family origins from the Emerald Isle, Princess Grace acquired the collection of Count Gerald Edward O’Kelly (1890–1968), a prominent Irish diplomat, in the 1970s.

Princess Grace Irish Library
© Princess Grace Irish Library

In the Princess Grace Irish Library, the public can also find books with inscriptions by former President of the Republic of Ireland Eamon De Valera, given during the state visit made by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace in 1961. While on this official trip, the Princess of Monaco retraced her ancestors.

Together with her husband, she met members of her family in Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, and visited the cottage where her grandfather, John Henry Kelly, was born in 1847. John Henry Kelly emigrated to the United States in 1887, to Philadelphia, where the Kelly family founded what would go on to become one of the biggest construction firms on the east coast.

Managed by Paula Farquharson-Blengino, the Irish Library is also home to works of art and sheet music collected by Princess Grace during her life. In the main room, there are sculptures of Oscar Wilde and the poet William Butler Yeats.

The cultural venue also hosts lectures by writers and academics, and every year welcomes writers-in-residence (born or resident in Ireland). A children’s room has also been created, with books suitable for younger readers from the age of 3.

© Princess Grace Irish Library
© Princess Grace Irish Library

Every year, to celebrate St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, pupils from the Rainier III Academy of Music put on a concert and perform the pieces whose scores are kept at the Princess Grace Irish Library.

And, to showcase this special connection between Monaco and Ireland, the Prince’s Palace is lit up in green every year on 17 March…

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Princess Grace Irish Library

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