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Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies Hosts Symposium at Monaco’s Princess Grace Irish Library

Monaco conference participants
Photo credit: G. Luci

Villanova, Pa.  – Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies, which has an academic partnership with the Princess Grace Irish Library of Monaco, recently brought together leading US and Irish scholars across a range of disciplines for a special symposium, “Creative Acts: The Dynamics of Artistic Ireland,” held October 9 – 10, 2021 in Monaco.

The two-day symposium examined the history, impact and support of the arts in Ireland and the diaspora through the lens of cultural institutions; diversity, inclusion and experience; and politics. The symposium included keynote addresses, discussions and panels with a selected number of scholars from a range of disciplines from Ireland and the US, who were welcomed to Monaco at a special reception hosted by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the principality’s sovereign prince. The programme also included a visit to the nearby villa E1027, designed and built by pioneering Irish architect Eileen Gray.

The event highlighted Ireland’s considerable artistic prowess, which over centuries has granted the island worldwide cultural status disproportionate to its size, economical or geopolitical power. The conference’s setting was fitting. A champion of Irish arts and culture, Princess Grace had a vast collection of Irish literature, including rare volumes of James Joyce, Samuel Becket, Flannery O’Brien, John M. Synge and George Bernard Shaw. In 1984, her collection formally became the Princess Grace Irish Library of Monaco, under the aegis of the Fondation Princesse Grace.  

“In the spirit of the Princess’ collaborative nature, the library has become a place of vital scholarship and research opportunities for scholars around the world,” said Susan Kelly vonMedicus, co-director of the symposium, niece of the late Princess and instructor in Villanova’s Irish Studies program and department of Theatre and Studio Art. 

“This collaboration with the Princess Grace Irish Library is key for Villanova because it takes us beyond the dyad connection between Ireland and America and internationalizes our Irish Studies program,” says Joseph Lennon, PhD, associate dean, International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Emily C. Riley Director of Irish Studies, Villanova University. 

Speakers at the conference included scholars from Villanova University; University College Dublin; Queens University, Belfast; Goldsmiths University; the Irish Museum of Modern Art; the National Museum of Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; and the Arts Council of Ireland.   

It is expected that the conference will result in a 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 published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company in Paris. It is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature. 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 our programs of lectures, drama and musical performances, bursaries and symposia. 

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