Grace Kelly - Newport’s Queen
Actress and Princess Consort of Monaco Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia. Her Father, John Brendan “Jack” Kelly, came from a family of Irish immigrants, who emigrated from our fair town of Newport Co. Mayo.
He was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team and was a self-made millionaire. Grace was the third of four children and was named after her father’s sister, who died at a young age.
After high school, Grace decided to pursue an acting career in New York despite her parent’s objections. Jack Kelly thought that acting was “a slim cut above streetwalker”. Despite this, Grace enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Grace Kelly became a popular actress in the 1950’s staring in movies as Dial M for Murder (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955) and The Swan (1956). She gained even greater fame after having starred in the film The Country Girl (1954), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
One year after the release of Hitchcock’s 'To Catch A Thief', it was announced that Grace would marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. They married on the 19 April 1956 and it proved one of the most lavish and reported events of the decade. Soon after, Grace announced her retirement from films. Grace Kelly's family had to pay the prince a dowry of $2 million for the wedding to go ahead.
As Princess Grace of Monaco, she served as head of a number of charitable and philanthropic organizations. Grace gave birth to three royal children, Princess Caroline in 1957, Prince Albert in 1958, and Princess Stephanie in 1965.
Grace’s path through life eventually brought her back as royalty to Newport in 1961 accompanied by her husband, Prince Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco. The couple stayed at the elegant Newport House. Grace reportedly bought her family home and surrounding land for 7,500 Irish pounds from the Mulchrone family in April 1976, planning to build a holiday home there. She returned later that year, attended Mass in St, Patrick’s, shopped and had her hair done in Newport, and returned again in 1979 with Prince Rainier to see architectural plans for the holiday home.
She told the local press that she would return in a few years to see the home finished, but she died at the age of 52 on Sept. 14, 1982, when her car left a winding road in the cliffs of Monaco. Local residents sent a wreath of wild flowers – picked around her ancestral home in Drimurla – to Monaco for the funeral.
The princess' funeral was watched by almost 100 million people worldwide and attended by people including Diana Princess of Wales and film star Cary Grant.