Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies Co-Hosts Second Biennial Princess Grace Irish Library Symposium in Monaco

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Joseph Lennon

Villanova, Pa. – Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies, in partnership with the Princess Grace Irish Library of Monaco and the Philadelphia Kelly House, historic landmark and ancestral home of Princess Grace Kelly, recently hosted scholars, writers and artists from Ireland and the diaspora for their second biennial symposium, held October 7 – 8, 2023 in Monaco.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, son of Philadelphia-native Princess Grace (née Kelly), welcomed attendees and kicked off the two-day event. The theme for 2023, “Sustainability in Irish Culture,” sparked discussions of priorities and strategies to address sustainability and climate change. The symposium incorporated the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals as framing principles for conversations, encouraging participants to both propose innovative strategies and offer critiques of current policies, ideas and practices across academic, media and cultural organizations. Conference participants also discussed the Irish Government’s new national policy framework on culture, creativity and climate action.

Susan Kelly vonMedicus and Joseph Lennon

“The partnership between our institutions brings a unique global perspective to pressing topics with the shared goal of advancing scholarship and research,” said Susan Kelly vonMedicus, symposium co-director, niece of Princess Grace and instructor in Villanova University’s Irish Studies program and Department of Theatre and Studio Art.

Symposium speakers included scholars from Villanova University, University of Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Haumea Ecoversity, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin City University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. 

“This collaborative event gave us the opportunity to not only explore the influence of Irish culture on climate action over the last several decades but also consider the role of art and culture in shaping a more sustainable future,” said Joseph Lennon, PhD, co-director of the symposium and associate dean, International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Emily C. Riley Director of Irish Studies at Villanova University.

To conclude the convention in Monaco, Dr. Lennon delivered a lecture to the Friends of the Princess Grace Irish Library and international scholars in which he summarized the event’s themes. After additional research, the symposium’s findings will be collected for future publication.

About Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies: The Center for Irish Studies at Villanova University has been a leader for four decades in interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship on Ireland in a global framework. The Center connects students to local community organizations while also preparing them to become citizens equipped to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. Through liberal arts-focused academics, multi-disciplinary scholarship and key partnerships, the Center provides students with research, study abroad and employment opportunities.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit

About Princess Grace Irish Library: The Princess Grace Irish Library was inaugurated on November 20, 1984 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco as a tribute to his wife Princess Grace and the attachment she felt for her Irish origins. It is home to Princess Grace's personal collection of Irish books and Irish-American sheet music, as well as beautiful reference books and items of historical value, photos and art works. The Library is one of the Principality’s cultural gems and has a vast collection of books to borrow and consult by Irish authors and on Ireland. The Library is proud to have a first edition of Ulysses by James Joyce, which is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature, published in 1922 by American ex-pat Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company in Paris.. The Library’s mission is to share the heritage of Éire (Ireland) and its literary legacy, to foster a love of the country, its culture, people, history and present day and to instill in young people a love of reading by discovering Irish authors and illustrators. These aims are achieved through  a cultural program of lectures, drama and musical performances, bursaries and symposia and engaging with educational partners for all age groups.

The Library is under the aegis of the Fondation Princesse Grace in Monaco and is situated in the former hôtel particulier of Comte Félix Gastaldi (1821-1906), Mayor of Monaco for 39 years.