Grace Kelly’s Irish library: a collection of classic reads … in Monaco

The film star’s roots prompted her to collect Irish literature, including rare editions of Joyce, Beckett and Shaw. The 9,000 volumes are now housed in a lovely, and free, library in the principality

I don’t go to Monaco for the sports cars or casinos but to enjoy a delicate, pea-green first full edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published by Sylvia Beach of Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Co in 1922. The book is in the world’s greatest – but probably least-known – Irish library, near the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.

On the shelves are leather-bound volumes of Jonathan Swift’s letters, rare collections of the works of Oscar Wilde, John M Synge and George Bernard Shaw, first editions of Flann O’Brien, Katharine Tynan, Iris Murdoch and William Trevor, and there’s a corner dedicated to Samuel Beckett. It’s an athenaeum of Irish culture in Monaco’s spotless old town, away from the super-yachts and glassy towers of Monte Carlo.

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