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Monaco Direct: Monaco’s Grace was Kelly Green

Grace Influential guest contributor, Annette Anderson sat down with Paula Farquharson, director of the Princess Grace Irish Library for an inside look at this special Irish oasis in the heart of Monaco.

Princess Grace Irish Library | Photo: Mike Colquhoun Riviera-Buzz

The Princess Grace Irish Library

The library itself was established to pay tribute to Princess Grace (née Grace Kelly) who was very proud of her Irish roots and an avid collector of Irish books and music. It is just one of the ways that Monaco carries on Her legacy— in addition to Her son Prince Albert having his own cozy Irish pub installed in the princely palace along with lighting up the palace fluorescent green every St. Patrick’s Day.

Inaugurated by Prince Rainier III two years after his wife Princess Grace died, the library occupies the second floor of a historic pink villa in the old town and is resplendent with Baroque high ceilings, Waterford crystal chandeliers, and a stunning portrait of the Princess. The Princess Grace Irish Library hosts a collection of 12,000 books by classic Irish authors, including Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and W.B. Yeats as well as contemporary writers.

Here you will find the Princess’s personal collection of books and Irish-American sheet music as well as floral napkins She designed for Springmaid, the chairs from the dining room of Her Paris apartment, and the sewing box of Her mother. Over the past nearly 40 years, the collection has almost doubled including volumes donated by the Irish government and assorted Irish exiles abroad, like Samuel Beckett.

First Edition Ulysses | Photo: Monaco Tribune

One of the gems of the collection is a pea-colored first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Co. Other treasures include a facsimile of the 9th century Book of Kells and the Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook from Easter 1916, with a false spine so it could be kept on a shelf in disguise.

The library welcomes children as young as three years old to a cozy reading room where they are encouraged to read Irish children’s books out loud (it’s the best way to learn, Paula says) and to enjoy a vintage collection of Princess Grace dolls (including the Gold Label Grace Kelly Bride Barbie) and a Connemara Pony rocking horse.

This special spot was even included in a New York Times travel article, “36 Hours in Monaco,” as the first stop on a full day itinerary of the Principality.

More About Paula

Born in Ireland, Paula is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. Her CV bulges with international work experience in journalism, media, and corporate communication for luxury brands, events, and renewable energy, from Dublin to New York, to Sydney to Monaco. But why choose the role of the librarian, particularly in this age of digital information?

Paula Farquharson | Director of the Princess Grace Irish Library
“Technology gives people a platform but not a place,” she says. “People need a PLACE and the library is that place whether for learning, networking, or getting lost in a book. The Princess Grace Library is a vibrant center where you can appreciate Irish culture, a place to interact and learn outside the traditional institutions and zoom rooms, and, yes, to make noise on our stage with drama and music!

Countless public libraries, she says, are reimagining their roles while finding new, and increasingly novel, ways to remain relevant and embrace a role as community social hubs. She has proven this, even in COVID times, by hosting concerts and lectures and even mounting a theatrical presentation for Bloomsday from the library’s balconies.

The cultural lecture theme for 2022 is Ulysses, James Joyce, Dublin, and the cities that inspired him in honor of the centenary year of the publication of Ulysses. Find the upcoming schedule and watch replays here.

During her tenure, Paula hopes to create the perfect meet-up spot, open to everyone, that reflects the true warmth and friendliness of the Irish and to launch “technology-meets-the-community” hybrid events in this unique venue that is bursting with history and a quirky charm.

This post was provided by Annette Ross Anderson. Annette is a partner and Marketing Manager at the iconic Monaco restaurant and sports bar, Stars'N'Bars. Over the last 30 years, she has hosted the Monaco multi-mix of royals, billionaires, celebrities, expats, university students, and yachtsmen that make up Monaco's diverse social universe. Annette also oversees the MonacoUSA Association, a social and business network in the principality. A trained journalist and business writer, she is currently working on a screenplay inspired by the legacy of Princess Grace.


Photos: Mike Colquhoun Riviera-Buzz, Annette Anderson, Monaco Tribune



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