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Collections

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. In 1978, Princess Grace acquired the complete collection of Irish-American music scores collected between 1932 and 1954 by Michael E O’Donnell from Philadelphia, her native city.

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 — many 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 17th century atlas of Ireland, with Spanish text, is displayed in the Princess Grace Salon.

The Young Readers section has a good selection of books for age 3 upwards.

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 Princess Grace Irish Library holds a collection of over 8,000 volumes of Irish works of all periods, generally first editions including rare examples of the 19th-century antiquarian and literary revival titles rare editions with some emphasis on the publications of the Irish Literary Revival (1892-1920).

Among the sets which form the whole in addition to the fine collection made by Count O'Kelly and purchased by Princess Grace, to which she added her own additions including a rare and extensive set of printed Irish music, are working collections acquired from such distinguished scholars as A. Norman Jeffares and Ann Saddlemeyer.

Hundreds of new books are added each year - contemporary poetry, fiction and drama, scholarly monographs and general works (including key reference works and leading illustrated publications) - ensure that the Library caters to the current reader as well as to the scholarly researcher.

© Photographs of Princess Grace: Archives du Palais Princier de Monaco
© Other photographs: Gaétan Luci & Charles Franch Guerra, Palais Princier Monaco

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