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Princess Grace Irish Library

9, rue Princesse Marie-de-Lorraine
Monaco-Ville, Monaco, 98000


+377 93 50 12 25; pglibmonaco.mc

Type: Library

Web site: http://www.monaco.mc/pglib

Amenities: wifi


The Princess Grace Irish Library was opened in November 1984 by His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005) — as his tribute to the attachment Princess Grace (1929 1982) felt for her Irish origins. Operating under the ægis of the Fondation Princesse Grace, the Library is situated in the former family home of the late Countess Brame-Gastaldi, a short walk from the Palace on the Rock of Monaco.

It was during the 1961 State Visit to Ireland that Their Serene Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Monaco visited the two-roomed cottage — overlooking the Leg of Mutton lake at Drimurla in County Mayo — where Princess Grace’s grandfather John Henry Kelly was born in 1847, during the Great Famine. He emigrated to the United States and founded what was to become one of Philadelphia’s leading construction companies.


Princess Grace’s personal collection of Irish books (most of which lined the walls of her Palace office) and Irish American sheet music form the very heart of the Library’s collections. Many of the volumes are from the library of leading Irish diplomat Count Gerald Edward O’Kelly de Gallach (1890-1968) which Princess Grace purchased in the 1970s. There are also books inscribed to the Prince and Princess by former Irish president Eamon De Valera in 1961.

Since the Library’s inauguration, some nine thousand books have been acquired — or donated by benefactors and visitors — including works from the Irish literary revival (1892 1922), and an excellent selection of contemporary writings of which many are signed by the authors. Included are older Irish books and imprints. Among the prime volumes are the Annals of the Four Masters (1841-45), the modern facsimile Book of Kells (donated by Sir Michael Smurfit KBE, Honorary Irish Consul to the Principality of Monaco) and early editions of the works of James Joyce including the first English and French editions of Ulysses. A rare seventeenth century atlas of Ireland, with Spanish text, is displayed in the Princess Grace Salon.

Visitors can admire a full-length portrait of Princess Grace by Mohamed Drisi, as well as paintings by Jack Yeats, Louis le Brocquy, Jack Murray and Claire D’Arcy, bronze heads of Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats by Dutch sculptor Kees Verkade (who also designed the Library’s logo), and a magnificent 19th century Spanish silver Virgin font which was the property of the De Valera family.


The Library is a very active centre for all things Irish. Its annual season of lectures and readings has featured distinguished speakers including Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize for Literature 1995), Ambassador Anne Anderson, Bruce Arnold, Sebastian Barry, Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch, Enoch Brater, Turtle Bunbury, Anthony Burgess, Andrew Carpenter, Anthony Cronin, Patrick Crotty, Michel Déon (Académie Française), Carol Drinkwater, Desmond Egan, Brian Fallon, Desmond FitzGerald (The Knight of Glin), Garret FitzGerald, Christopher Fitz-Simon, Roy Foster, Ian Fox, Nicola Gordon-Bowe, Godfrey Graham, Carlo Gébler, Hugo Hamilton, Peter Harbison, Pierre Joannon, Jennifer Johnston, Michael Longley, Bernard MacLaverty, Muriel McCarthy, John Montague, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Colm Ó Briain, Edna O'Brien, Jane Ohlmeyer, Homan Potterton, Kevin Rockett, Ann Saddlemyer, C. George Sandulescu, Gerard Stembridge, MaryCarroll Sullivan, Colm Tóibín, Father Pearse Walsh, Patricia Noonan Walsh, Brendan Walsh, Alex Ward, Jeremy Williams… and many others. The choice of subjects is vast in order to appeal to a wide audience.

The papers presented at the Library symposia are published in The Princess Grace Irish Library Series: Assessing the 1984 Ulysses, Irishness in a Changing Society, Yeats the European, ‘Ulysses’: A Review of Three Texts, The Literary Works of Jack B. Yeats, The Celtic Connection, Rediscovering Oscar Wilde, Beckett and Beyond, Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, Images of Joyce, That Other World: The Supernatural and the Fantastic in Irish Literature and its Context, Hearts and Minds: Irish Culture and Society under the Act of Union , The Irish Book Lover and Irish Poetry After Feminism.

A two-day arts round-table directed by Dr Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch, former Curator of Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland, took place in 2008. Dr Mary Shine Thompson will direct a forum - What’s best next? The future of children’s literature in Ireland - during the weekend of 18/19 September 2010.

Thanks to the continued generosity of Sir Michael Smurfit KBE, state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment enables Irish films and documentaries to be viewed at symposia and lectures throughout the year.


The Library works with the English Department at the Lycée Albert I (senior high school) in Monaco. After viewing Irish films at the Library, the pupils discuss the subject in class and appreciate this opportunity to express themselves on matters as varied as music, mythology, history and contemporary social problems. In 2003, a new activity was added to the schools programme: English-language theatre workshops animated by Melanie Clark Pullen — a talented Irish actress who has performed on stage and in television in Great Britain and Ireland — have proved tremendously popular and stimulating for the pupils. April 2005 saw the first writing workshop presented by Irish poet Leontia Flynn; it was a great success and the students showed remarkable literary flare. In 2006, the first “learning through art” workshop took place in January, and the first poetry workshop in April. The proof that learning can be fun!


Since 1999, special Saint Patrick’s Day events have taken place in various venues across the Principality: The Cathedral, Chapelle de la Visitation, Théâtre des Variétés, and Cinéma du Sporting. The Monegasque public has enjoyed performances by Les Petits Chanteurs and La Maîtrise de Monaco (Boys’ Choir and Cathedral Choir), students from the Académie de Musique–Fondation Prince Rainier III (performing music and songs from Princess Grace’s personal collection of Irish-American sheet music held in the Library), dancers from the Académie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace, the Pallas Quartet (Cork School of Music) and Tom Cullivan. In 2000, children from Rostrevor in Northern Ireland performed the Gaelic opera An Iarlais at the Théâtre Princesse Grace.

Cinema buffs have not been forgotten… a weeklong Irish Film Retrospective delighted audiences in 2001.

The Library has hosted exhibitions including literary portraits by Irish photographer John Minihan (www.johnminihan.com), oil paintings by Ulster artist Jack Murray (www.jackmurrayart.com) and watercolours by Mary Collins from Dun Laoghaire (www.bluewavearts.ie).


Honorary Trustee:
HIS EXCELLENCY MR PAUL KAVANAGH – Ambassador of Ireland to Monaco, Embassy of Ireland, Paris

MRS PAUL GALLICO (appointed 1984) – Dame d’Honneur, Palace of Monaco
HIS EXCELLENCY MR PHILIPPE BLANCHI (appointed 1993) – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Monaco, Rome
MR MARK ARMSTRONG (appointed May 2005) – Director, Sotheby’s, Monaco
MRS ANNE-MARIE BOISBOUVIER (appointed March 2009) – Technical Advisor, His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince’s Cabinet, Palace of Monaco

Jean Claude Riey (Secretary-Treasurer, Fondation Princesse Grace) oversees the Library’s finances.

The Library’s permanent staff:

JUDITH GANTLEY – Administrator - pgbooks@monaco.mc
GÉRALDINE LANCE – Secretary - pglib@monaco.mc
SÍLE JACKSON – Webmaster - pgweb@monaco.mc

In addition to the Library’s main funding by the Fondation Princesse Grace, THE IRELAND FUND OF MONACO is immensely generous to the Princess Grace Irish Library. It finances the PGIL EIRData website (www.pgil-eirdata.org); this vast dataset of electronic Irish records contains biographical information on more than 4,500 Irish writers together with primary and secondary bibliographies, commentaries, quotations and notes. It also includes a library of Irish literary classics, an Irish-studies bulletin, a gazette of Irish scholarship and a gateway for Irish studies. The website was launched in October 2000 with an inaugural click by the then His Serene Highness Hereditary Prince Albert of Monaco and Dr Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.

In 2001, The Ireland Fund of Monaco created a Bursary enabling Irish writers and academics to pursue their writing and research projects in the friendly surroundings of the Library. It consists of a one-month stay in Monaco in the Spring and Autumn. The laureates to date are Eoin McNamee, Angela Bourke, Molly McCloskey, Fred Johnston, Leontia Flynn, Justin Quinn, John F. Deane, Gerry Smyth, Anne Fitzgerald, Mary O’Donnell, Brian Lynch, Fintan Vallely, Martina Devlin and Gréagóir Ó Dúill. The 2010 bursaries are William Wall (www.williamwall.eu) in the Spring and James Harpur (www.jamesharpur.com) in the Autumn.

Added by: P.G.I.L..  Contacted: Not contacted.  Venue ID: 54871


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