- complément


Monaco, 15th March 2024

A letter from a Princess to a President about an Irish pony

St Patrick’s Day celebrations with music and correspondence to Ireland

The Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco hosted its traditional harp music concert followed by a special rendez-vous between H.R.H. The Princess of Hanover and Irish author Flor MacCarthy, whose book contains a letter from five-year old Princess Caroline to the President of Ireland in January 1962.  

The twist to this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations centred around correspondence to the Presidents of Ireland, including thank you letters from the mother and daughter Princesses of Monaco to President Éamon de Valera for his gift of an Irish pony to Princess Caroline in 1962. The surprise gift, named ‘Babbling Brook’, was on the foot of a visit to Ireland’s National Stud by Prince Rainier III with his family in June 1961.

Flor MacCarthy, who spends this month as The Ireland Funds Monaco Writer-in-Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library, revealed extracts from her book, The Presidents’ Letters – An Unexpected History of Ireland (New Island Books), covering correspondence to and from nine Presidents since the inauguration of the first President of Ireland in 1938. Remarkably, the first ever state visit to Ireland by any head of state was in 1961 when H.S.H. Prince Rainier of Monaco was accompanied by his wife Princess Grace and their two eldest children. Unsurprisingly the world media covered the event and as a result it truly placed Ireland on the international map, with subsequent visits by other heads of states, including President of the United States of America John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Flor MacCarthy’s illustrated talk also covered the relationship between the Prince's Family and successive Irish presidents as seen through their correspondence, highlighting the warm friendship between Ireland and Monaco, which continues to this day.

The audience at the library also enjoyed the display of talent by four harp students from L’Académie Rainier III Musique & Théâtre, as well as dramatic readings from letters in Flor MacCarthy’s book by actors from the Monaco-Ireland Arts Society.

The Princess Grace Irish Library is under the aegis of the Fondation Princesse Grace and as President, H.R.H. The Princess of Hanover has overseen its development as a centre of literary excellence, widely respected for its contribution to global Irish studies and promotion of Irish culture. Inaugurated forty years ago by her father Prince Rainier III on 20th November 1984, Princess Caroline gave a speech on the occasion, a moving tribute to her mother’s attachment to Ireland, where the latter’s paternal grandfather John Henry Kelly was born before he emigrated to America aged 20 years old.

Fittingly, this year the library’s theme for its cultural programme is A retrospective of Princess Grace, her Irish origins and passion for Irish culture’.


Media contact: 

Princess Grace Irish Library

Paula Farquharson

Tel: +377 93 50 12 25

About the author

Flor MacCarthy is a celebrated author, journalist and former RTÉ TV presenter from West Cork, based in Dublin. She is spending the month of March 2024 as Writer-in-Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library. Flor is author of ‘The Presidents’ Letters – An unexpected History of Ireland’. A key part of the library’s mission is to provide a place and the research resources to academics and writers like Flor to work on their projects. Flor MacCarthy is taking advantage of time at the library, as well researching at the Palace Archives to avail of material relevant to her next book.


Editor’s Notes:

The Ireland Funds Monaco 

The Ireland Funds Monaco generously funds the Bursary programme at the Library, of which Flor MacCarthy is the recipient in spring 2024.

The Ireland Funds Monaco Bursaries were established to enable literary and academic writers born or living on the island of Ireland to pursue a current project during a one-month residency at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. The Bursaries are aimed at writers who are currently engaged in a work-in-progress which would benefit in some regard from time spent working at the library and access to its collections.

The Ireland Funds Monaco is one of the chapters of The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic network established in 1976 to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and Irish-related causes around the world. It has benefited the work of thousands of different organisations, with both financial and non-financial support. Today, The Ireland Funds is one of the largest private grant makers for the non-profit sector in Ireland.

Princess Grace Irish Library

A centre of literary excellence since 1984 and home to the beautiful, rare books and Irish American music scores that the Princess collected over her lifetime, the library has become an important centre of Irish culture, widely respected for its contribution to global Irish studies. The calibre and variety of the writers-in-residence, speakers and traditional Irish musicians ensures something of interest for all.

The Princess Grace Irish Library website hosts an online listing of over 500 Irish books and more than 1,000 unique Irish American music sheets (which span from 1840 to the mid-1900s) from Princess Grace's personal collection, as well as over 12,000 other books. The library is also home to precious art works and photos of visits to Ireland by the Prince’s family since 1961 to today.

The library was inaugurated on 20th November 1984 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco as a tribute to his wife Princess Grace and the attachment she felt for her Irish origins.

In March 2023, H.S.H. Prince Albert II unveiled a sculpture of His mother Princess Grace in Newport, county Mayo, close to where the Kelly homestead stood. People of Irish descent have emigrated and contributed to the United States for centuries. Grace Kelly’s own grandfather John Kelly (1847 -1897) was born in county Mayo and aged 20, set sail aboard the ‘SS City of Boston’ to America. The Kelly’s became one of the most prominent families in Philadelphia and direct descendants still live in the area today. 

The library is under the ægis of the Fondation Princesse Grace with President H.R.H. The Princess of Hanover and H.S.H. Prince Albert II as Vice-President, respectively the daughter and son of the late Princess Grace (née Kelly).

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