07 April 2005

Daily Ireland

Grace’s cabin in ruins

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A small Co Mayo community mourned the death of Prince Rainier yesterday and expressed regret that nothing has been done over the decades to restore a local tumbledown cottage, which is the ancestral home of his late wife, Princess Grace.
The three Grimaldi children, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, became owners of the now roofless, three-roomed building and an adjoining 35 acres when their mother, the former Grace Kelly, died tragically in a car accident in 1982.
The property, which was first visited by Rainier and Grace in 1961, has lain derelict over the years, despite occasional bursts of correspondence between Monaco and Mayo County Council as well as a local development committee.
Even a former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, intervened briefly, but unsuccessfully, in the 1980s. On a visit to Monaco, Mr Reynolds suggested to Prince Rainier that the cottage, where Princess Grace’s grandfather, John Bernard Kelly, eked out a living before emigrating to the United States, should be renovated, but the response was cool.
Maureen Smyth, who acted as Secretary of the Culmore Development Committee in the 1980s, yesterday expressed regret that nothing had been done to restore the cottage into a tourist attraction.
“I am disappointed that things didn’t work out,” Ms Smyth commented. “The provision of an amenity centre in Culmore took precedence over the Kelly cottage project. Plans for the cottage died a death.
“Unless the county council takes up the matter I doubt if locals will. It is too big a project for a small community.”
Frank Chambers, a member of Mayo County Council, who helped involve the then Taoiseach in the 1980s, said yesterday a restored cottage would have been a tourist asset not only for the west but for the whole of Ireland.
Despite the lack of progress over the years, Councillor Chambers, who is Chairman of Newport and District Development Company, expressed optimism that the cottage might become some kind of a monument.
“Some kind of memorial, fitting and symbolic, should be put in place,” Councillor Chambers said.
Grace’s son, Prince Albert, visited the property in 1987 dropping in by helicopter unannounced.
Solicitor Patrick Durcan, who represents the Rainier family’s interests in Mayo, declined to comment yesterday when contacted.

Monaco closes casinos as Prince dies

Monaco plunged into mourning and its famed casino closed its doors when the death was announced yesterday of Prince Rainier, the long-ruling monarch hailed for modernising the tiny principality once renowned as a “sunny place for shady people''.
Rainier, whose marriage to American film star Grace Kelly brought elegance, glamour and world renown to what once was a Riviera backwater, died at 6.35am at the hospital treating him for heart, kidney and breathing problems. He was 81.
Prince Albert, his bachelor son and heir, was at his side after doctors called him just before 6am to tell him the end was near, the royal palace said.
Albert (47) was groomed from birth to succeed his father, and had already taken over the royal powers - but not the throne - last week because Rainier was too sick to rule.
Rainier's body was transferred from the hospital back to his hilltop palace shortly after his death and will lie in state in the palace's Palatine Chapel so Monegasques can pay their respects, said an official.
The Mediterranean enclave's famed Monte Carlo casino closed its doors as a sign of respect.
“Each of us feels like an orphan because the principality has been marked by his imprint over the 56 years of his reign,” said Patrick Leclercq, head of government in the principality of 32,000 people.
There was no immediate official word on funeral arrangements.
Rainier was expected to be buried alongside Princess Grace at the 19th-century Monaco Cathedral, where they wed on April 18, 1956. Beside her tomb is an empty slab of marble waiting to be engraved with the prince's name.
Tributes flooded in from European leaders and politicians who praised Rainier, who had been Europe's longest-serving monarch, as a reformist prince.
French President Jacques Chirac said Rainier “enabled his country to gain access to the international stage and gave it modern structures, all the while preserving the traditional elements which, over time, forged Monaco's originality.''
A palace statement said Rainier died “as a result of the broncho-pulmonary, heart and kidney conditions that caused his
hospitalisation.''
Rainier had in been hospital since March 7.

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