About Princess Grace’s Personal Collection
Princess Grace began collecting Irish books and sheet music in the mid-1960s. Most of the items acquired belonged to the estate of Earl Gerald Edward O’Kelly of Gallagh, an Irish diplomat, who served as the first Irish minister to France in 1929.
Of the 14,000 books in the library, more than 500 books belonged to Princess Grace, including rare editions:
- “That Kelly family” – the authorized history of the Philadelphia Kellys (1957) – signed by Grace Kelly and her family members
- Atlas Hibernia (1654) – this early volume contains fine maps of Ireland
- “A History of Ireland”, signed in 1961 by former Irish President Éamon de Valera, when he presented him to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III in 1961 at his official residence in Dublin
- The Irish Annals of the Four Masters (1846)
The impressive collection of more than 1,000 unique Irish-American musical scores, acquired by Princess Grace in 1977 from County Mayo man Michael E. O’Donnell, who settled in Philadelphia – a path also borrowed by the princess’s grandfather is also interesting. John Kelly. The lyrics of the songs recall the experiences of Irish people who emigrated to the United States, spanning 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 the death of his wife, in homage to Princess Grace and her attachment to her Irish origins. His paternal grandfather John Kelly was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1847. The library became an important center of Irish culture, widely respected for its contribution to Irish studies and the caliber of writers-in-residence, speakers and the content of their lectures. The library’s annual program, focusing on writers, poets, playwrights and traditional music, guarantees something interesting for everyone. School and schoolchildren, dignitaries and inhabitants of Monaco and the surrounding area, as well as tourists appreciate this treasure of the “Rock” in the Principality of Monaco.
An annual Writers Fellowship, generously funded by The Ireland Funds Monaco, provides writers and scholars with a month-long residency at the library to pursue writing and research projects.
The library also houses valuable works of art and rare photos of visits to Ireland by the Prince’s family from 1961 to the present.