Jump to: navigation, search

Toronto Star (05/Mar/1990) - Wee bit of Ireland lives in Grace Kelly library



Wee bit of Ireland lives in Grace Kelly library

In the heart of the sunny Mediterranean principality of Monaco, far from the misty shores of Ireland, Irish culture is thriving.

Its focal point is the Princess Grace Irish Library, which this year will attract literary experts from around the world for the 12th International James Joyce Symposium in June.

Prince Rainier, the principality's ruler, founded the library in 1984, after the death of his wife, former American film star Grace Kelly who was of Irish ancestry.

"Princess Grace was well-read, partly thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's influence," library director George Sandulescu said in an interview.

Prince Rainier wanted her important collection of books about Ireland, or by Irish authors, to be available to scholars and the public, rather than be hidden away in the palace archives.

"The library is partly financed by the foundation she set up before her death," Sandulescu said. "We are lucky in having generous funds to buy books and are always on the lookout for private collections or new works to add to our stock."

Among the people Rainier called in to help establish the library were British novelist Anthony Burgess, a Monaco resident with Irish ancestors, and British-born Virginia Gallico, widow of the American writer Paul Gallico and a close friend of the late princess.

Burgess is a regular contributor to the library's cultural events, either as a speaker on Joyce, on whom he is a noted authority, or as a composer. His chamber music, such as a recently composed guitar quartet, is played at concerts held in the library's lecture hall.

Burgess will give a talk entitled Joyce As Novelist to mark the start of the Joyce symposium on June 11.

Monaco, hemmed in by the French Riviera on one side and Italy on the other, somehow seems a fitting place for the study of Joyce's works.

The song "The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo" appears as a leitmotif in Joyce's great novel Ulysses.