Monday, 17 March 2014

Royal Rewind: Grace Kelly, Her Irish Heritage and Visits

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day we're taking a look at the Irish heritage of the one and only Grace Kelly, and her visits to the country, but first a look at a special photo-shoot.


These gorgeous photos were taken of Grace on St. Patrick's Day 1954. The strapless emerald green gown was a classic choice and similar to so many of Grace's beautiful pieces. It could be worn today and have an equally captivating effect.


Did you know green was Grace's favourite colour? Symbolizing hope, luck and youth she never missed an opportunity to wear lime, jade or emerald. Following a tradition from Ireland, to bring good luck and happiness on the birth of a baby, Grace had the wall of the Palace library - set to be the birthplace of her daughter, Princess Caroline - painted green.


Grace's Irish roots begin with her paternal grandfather, John Peter Kelly, who was a bricklayer from Newport in Mayo. Born in 1857 in the scenic area of Drimurla, he, like so many, departed a starved and oppressed Ireland in 1887 for Philadelphia where he founded one of the city's leading construction companies and made his family's fortune.


The Princess was incredibly interested in her roots and first visited Ireland in 1961, much to the delight of the people of Ireland who considered the Princess "one of their own" since she first hit the big screen. Grace appropriately wore a vivid green Givenchy suit, the same one she had chosen for lunch at The White House earlier that year with the Kennedy's - "an elegant way to wrap the green flag around me".


One of Grace's first ports of call was the old cottage where her grandfather had lived. Grace and Prince Rainier stayed at the elegant Newport House and had tea with Ellen Mulchrone, who owned the charming ancestral cottage that back then had a traditional thatched roof. Grace was very taken with it.

The Grace Kelly Film Festival

The Princess used a black-throne stick as she made her way under the escort of Rev. Father Cummins during a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Patrick at Croagh Patrick in Westport.

The Grace Kelly Film Festival

Grace and Rainier attended a ball of the petit lits blanc for a French Hospital Charity in Powerscourt, Wicklow in 1965.


A great photo of the royal couple dancing.


Rainier and Grace with Albert and Caroline during a family holiday in Ireland, during which they stayed in Carton House, Co. Kildare.



The Princess attended the funeral of Irish president Éamon de Valera in Dublin in 1975.


Grace's visits had given her a love for Ireland, and as she continued her life in the Principality, Drimurla was never far from her mind. In 1976 the Princess purchased the ancestral cottage and surrounding 35 acres of land for £7,800. She returned several times, often walking the high street in Mayo, mixing with locals and getting her hair done. She adored the down to earth attitude of the locals and the sense of normality she enjoyed there.

Westport Co. Mayo

On her last visit to Ireland in 1979, the Princess told Gerald Bracken, former editor of The Mayo News she had planned to turn the cottage into a holiday home. Sadly, Grace passed away three years later and her dream never materialised. Prince Albert, who with his sisters inherited the house, paid an unannounced visit in 1987 and again in 2011. Since then the 18th century home has been "let go to rack and ruin", according to Mr. Bracken, who added, "We had hoped it would be a tourist attraction for Americans".


I do hope something is done to restore the cottage. It's incredibly important to preserve what we can and Grace remains such an iconic figure.

Drimurla

Following Grace's untimely death, the people of Westport sent a wreath of wild flowers - picked around Drimurla - to Monaco for her funeral. In 2012, the 30th anniversary of her death, Newport honoured Her Serene Highness with a film festival dedicated to her memory. Obviously, Grace left an indelible mark on Mayo and its people.

The Grace Kelly Film Festival

Cary Grant famously said:

'She never distanced herself from others. Even so, as soon as she came on set, everyone fell silent'.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

16 comments:

  1. Kate, Texas, USA17 March 2014 at 15:50

    Charlotte, thank you for posting the link at the bottom of the Duchess Kate post. I had always followed and have forgotten that you had The Royal Digest up and going again. I need to remember to jump over here too as I love a good Royal story....any Royal post is a good post!

    Grace Kelly...classic, timeless, elegant, and absolutely beautiful. She was gorgeous! The pictures of her in the green gown are stunning. I agree that it could be worn today and look just as amazing! It's hard to believe those pictures are 60 years old! I knew she was Irish, but had no idea of her deep affection for the country of Ireland and it's people. My family was from Ireland too and settled in New York after immigrating, so I loved her story. I really wish her children would honor their mother's desire to restore the cottage. What a great way to invest in their heritage and have for future generations. So very sad what was said about the cottage going to "rack and ruin". It would be such a honor to their mother and the Irish people to take care of the land and cottage. Here's to hoping something is done. Such a cool post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. bluhare in Washington State17 March 2014 at 18:08

      Totally agree about the cottage, Kate. It's such a shame.

      Delete
    2. I'm shocked to see the cottage in that state to be honest. Not one of her children has the incentive to do something? Incredible. Maybe they're just so accustomed to sunny Monaco that they don't have time for much else. Sad.

      Delete
    3. Jennifer from Wisconsin18 March 2014 at 23:35

      Completely agree Kate and bluhare

      Delete
  2. bluhare in Washington State17 March 2014 at 16:31

    Lovely post on Grace, Charlotte. I wish there was a photo of her standing in that green gown. It looks absolutely beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely...and timeless.

      Funny, I had the same thought about a photo of her standing... :)

      Delete
  3. Thanks, Charlotte. I enjoyed this very much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy St.Paddy's Day darling. I love Grace wish she was still with us. May she RIP.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love watching Grace Kelly movies. She was sooo classy, and this is one of your usual informative, well-presented and interesting posts. Thanks, Charlotte!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for doing these great posts on Princess Grace. She is one of my favorites. That is such a beautiful green gown. Not every blonde looks well in green but it suited Grace perfectly. I don't know about that hat with the green suit though! I remember seeing a picture of her with Jackie and Grace was wearing that same hat. Jackie was wearing a simple dark sheath and Grace looked like she had a shower cap on.

    That was a rare error though. She generally looked wonderful. Such a pity about the cottage. Hopefully, something can be done.

    Loved your feature on the Danish royals as well. Just didn't have time to comment. But I can't say I really like the queen in orange with that strange lace bodice and the furs.

    Mary's gown was unusual. I liked it but perhaps not with a tiara. (But at least she wears them.) Perhaps sometime there can be a posting on Mary's gowns. She has worn some lovely ones but I've never seen them in one article. In the Daily Mail article comparing her to Kate, one of the gowns was stunningly beautiful.

    Thanks Charlotte for taking the time on this second blog. I'm really enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How kind of you to honor an American princess, after all the remarks about us being too far away to count.
    There was a magic about Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on the screen. A double dose of cool elegance.

    The days of royalty marrying first cousins ( and the aftermath of that) are over. Mary is an. Aussie It speaks to the changing times.Yet, William married an English Rose. There is something to be said for that, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A double dose of "cool elegance" indeed. :)

      Delete
  8. How did Grace die, may I ask?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Emily,

      Grace died in a car accident in 1982.

      Delete
    2. That is sad.

      Delete
  9. Thank you Charlotte for such an interesting read! I didn't know much about Princess Grace, but I am now very intrigued!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...