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The Princess Grace Irish Library goes online with its book collection catalogue

A centre of literary excellence since 1982, the Princess Grace Irish Library now opens its doors even wider to the online world. This launch provides public access on the library’s website to its listing of books, both rare and contemporary and will increase collaboration with writers and educational institutions in Monaco and around the world.

Since 2006 the library has extended its remit to include a broader cultural programme. It embraces its role as the only dedicated vehicle for the English written and spoken word within the Principality, welcoming visitors of all nationalities who appreciate an Anglophone environment and works about Ireland and by Irish authors.

The online catalogue will facilitate learning about the treasures on the library’s shelves, including the Princess Grace’s personal collection of rare books, collected during Her lifetime, which allow an insight to Her profound appreciation of Irish literature and drama.

This step has been made possible with the generous support of our new patron, The Craft Irish Whiskey Co., a young, award-winning Irish company, which has reimagined the whiskey experience. The Trustees and Director of the Princess Grace Irish Library greatly appreciate its support.

“I’m honoured that The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. can support the work of the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. We share a vision to respect and preserve the legacy of our forebearers. Similar to the books lining the beautiful library walls, our ultra-rare premium whiskeys draw on Ireland’s illustrious past and traditions, while offering a unique experience as one of unrivalled luxury and perfection. In the same way that we bring an innovative approach to an age-old art, I’m proud that we can contribute to the library’s next step in the digital age,” says Managing Director Ian Duignan.

The timing of the online launch coincides with the collaboration between the Princess Grace Irish Library’s and the Atlantic Youth Trust, which hosted a fundraising event yesterday and is taking steps to form a Monaco branch. This new youth charity, which has purchased the Grace O’Malley tall ship for training purposes, equips young people with vital personal skills such as leadership, teamwork and resilience.

“We’re delighted to be involved in this wonderful initiative for Ireland and thank Enda O’Coineen, Chairman of the Atlantic Youth Trust and the team for this opportunity. We welcome the ship’s young crews to the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. The rule for each sea voyage – to leave mobile phones on land – frees up time onboard to read books by Irish writers, borrowed from the library. The aim is to foster an appreciation of Ireland’s literature and history, which includes two exceptional women, Princess Grace and Grace O’Malley. With our new online book listing, we meet the needs of young people today. We wish the ship safe voyages in the future and look forward to hearing stories of its adventures,” says Paula Farquharson, Director, Princess Grace Irish Library.

About Princess Grace’s personal collection

Princess Grace started collecting Irish books and music scores in the mid-1960s. Many of the items acquired had belonged to the estate of Count Gerald Edward O’Kelly de Gallagh, an Irish diplomate, who was the first Irish Minister to France in 1929.

Of the total 14,000 books in the library, over 500 books belonged to Princess Grace, including rare editions:

  • ‘That Kelly family’ – the authorised story of the Philadelphia Kellys (1957) – signed by Grace Kelly and members of Her family
  • Atlas Hibernia (1654) – this ancient volume contains beautiful maps of Ireland
  • ‘A History of Ireland’, signed in 1961 by former President of Ireland Éamon de Valera, when he presented it to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III in 1961 at his official Dublin residence
  • The Annals of Ireland of The Four Masters (1846)

Also of interest is the impressive collection of over 1,000 unique Irish-American music sheets, acquired by Princess Grace in 1977 from Michael E. O’Donnell, a county Mayo man, who settled in Philadelphia – a path also taken by the Princess’ grandfather John Kelly. The song lyrics recall the experiences of Irish people who emigrated to the U.S.A., covering the years c. 1840-1940. Each sheet is illustrated with a beautiful image reminiscent of the era.

About the Library

The Princess Grace Irish Library was inaugurated in 1984 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco, two years after His wife’s death, as a tribute to Princess Grace and the attachment she felt for Her Irish origins. Her paternal grandfather John Kelly was born in county Mayo, Ireland in 1847. The library has become an important centre of Irish culture, widely respected for its contribution to Irish studies and the calibre of writers-in- residence, speakers and the content of their lectures. The library’s annual programme, with a focus on writers, poets, playwrights and traditional music ensures something of interest for all. Scholars and school children, dignitaries and residents in Monaco and nearby, as well as tourists appreciate this treasure on the ‘Rock’ in the Principality of Monaco.

An annual Writers Bursary, generously funded by The Ireland Funds Monaco, provides writers and academics with a month-long residency at the library to pursue writing and research projects.

The library is also home to precious art works and rare photos of visits to Ireland by the Prince’s family since 1961 to today.

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