Sounds of Irish poetry and music filled the Kelly House once more when the historic East Falls home of the late Princess Grace Kelly opened its doors for an event for the first time last April. Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies helped to organize the reading by Irish poets Colette Bryce and Vona Groarke, two of its esteemed former Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chairs.
“It was especially apt and touching—the only performing that Princess Grace undertook after her marriage was poetry reading, and she had a great love of her Irish heritage,” said her niece Susan Kelly vonMedicus, who teaches for the Center for Irish Studies and the Department of Theatre and Studio Art at Villanova.
When her cousin, Albert II, Prince of Monaco (Princess Grace’s son), purchased the home to restore it to its former glory, vonMedicus suggested Villanova as the lead academic partner for events, such as lectures, contemporary author readings and music.
Now that partnership is expanding to include the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, which houses more than 9,000 volumes of Irish books, literature, music and poetry that belonged to Princess Grace. “The library was founded to not only house her extensive collection, but to also create a place for new scholarship in Irish Letters with residencies, lecture series and a children’s room,” vonMedicus says.
In fall 2020, Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies will host a conference at the library focused on Ireland and the arts, inviting Irish scholars from around the world. “This collaboration is really important for Villanova because it takes us beyond the dyad connection between Ireland and America and internationalizes the program,” says Joseph Lennon, PhD, the Emily C. Riley Director of the Center for Irish Studies and associate dean of International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives. He and vonMedicus will serve as co-directors of the conference.
This collaboration ... takes us beyond the dyad connection between Ireland and America and internationalizes the program.”
Joseph Lennon, PhD
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For his novel Solar Bones, Villanova’s 2019 Heimbold Chair Mike McCormack won the International Dublin Literary Award, one of the largest prizes in the world for a single work of literature. “He’s one of the hottest fiction writers right now, and we’re fortunate to have him teaching two courses here this semester,” Dr. Lennon says.