HE may have failed to win a seat in the local elections but a Corkman has pulled off a major diplomatic coup that could have huge spin-offs for Irish tourism.
Plans are being finalised for Prince Albert II of Monaco to visit Ireland for the first time later this year and play in a golf tournament in memory of his late mother, Princess Grace.
It is expected the high-profile event will result in a huge boost for the ailing Irish tourism sector because hundreds of super-rich yacht owning supporters follow the prince wherever he goes.
And one of Ireland’s sailing capitals is hoping to get on board. Kinsale Town Council will be asked next month to extend an official invitation to the prince to visit the town as part of his official visit.
And it’s all thanks to Mick Murphy, a Green Party activist based in Cork.
He wrote last year to K Club owner, Michael Smurfit, the Irish Consul to the Principality of Monaco, suggesting ways of forging stronger links between Ireland and Monaco.
He suggested that Dr Smurfit host a golf classic at the K Club in honour of Princess Grace, and at the same time mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Irish Library in Monaco.
Dr Smurfit then wrote to Monsieur Franck Biancheri of the principality’s Department of Foreign Affairs who wrote to Mr Murphy saying the Monaco Government was very interested in the project.
He told Mr Murphy to work with senior officials in Monaco’s Department of Tourism, and with Howard Kilroy, the Honorary Consul of Monaco in Ireland, to finalise the event.
Mr Murphy said he was delighted with the response. “This will have huge benefits for Irish tourism,” he predicted.
Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. The couple visited Ireland in 1961 during which the princess visited the birthplace of her grandfather John Kelly, who was born in 1857.
He emigrated to the US in the late 19th century and founded what was to become one of Philadelphia’s leading companies.
The Princess died in a car crash in 1982. Prince Ranier opened the Irish Library in Monaco in 1984 as a tribute to her love of Ireland. It houses her collection of Irish books, and Irish-American sheet music.
There are also books inscribed to the Prince and Princess by former president Eamon de Valera in 1961, as well as painting by Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy.
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