Thursday, 25 June 2020

Royal Rewind: Grace Kelly, Her Irish Heritage and Visits

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 √Čamon 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'.

8 comments:

  1. She is who she is or was, a beautiful lady. She really passed on her beauty to her children and grandchildren.

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  2. What a magnificent post, thank you so much, I never knew any of this about Grace Kelly. Really looking forward to being educated on this most enlightening blog!

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  3. Charlotte - Grace Kelly was the very first start of my royal interest. She was absolutely stunning. And growing up I was so very interested in Princess Caroline as she was close in age to me. I found her so beautiful - just like her mother. Thank you for this post on Grace Kelly. May I ask you - is there any possibility of future posts regarding Princess Caroline? I'm not sure how active she is these days with events/charities, etc., but that would be so wonderful if you were able to post about Princess Caroline. Thank you again for this Royal Digest blog. I love it :)

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    1. Carrie thank you so much for your kind comments and interest. I'll absolutely be covering Princess Caroline :)

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  4. I am a massive fan of Grace Kelly. Her elegance is unreached (maybe by some of CP Victorias Nobel Prize outfits) and absolutely timeless. This look would still be a showstopper at a big royal event.
    What I find pretty funny though is the obsession many US Americans have with their "heritage". Her paternal grandfather was Irish. Her great grandfather that is. That is all. That far back in line many if not most people have at least one relative that comes from a different country- especially in Europe. We don't think much of it, but then we have always been pretty intertwined. Maybe that is why many here think it is strange to put much emphasis on it?

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  5. Great look back at a wonderful person. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you for this very informative blog post, I learnt a lot of new things :) Grace was so incredibly beautiful and her wedding gown is one of my favourites - so elegant and in many ways timeless. Would you maybe consider doing a "royal rewind" about the King & Queen of Norway's love story? It's very romantic :)

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    1. Hello, that is a fantastic idea, thank you :)

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