Grace Kelly family ancestral home
About six kilometres from Newport in the townland of Drumilra, Mayo, and overlooking the ‘Leg of Mutton’ lake, lie the crumbling remains of a three roomed cottage that actress and princess, Grace Kelly, purchased in June of 1976. Grace Kelly’s grandfather, John Peter Kelly had been born and reared in the small cottage, but had emigrated from Drumilra in 1887.
Grace, eager to explore her roots, had visited the cottage during a royal state visit in 1961 with her husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
The ‘Widow Mulchrone’ was living in the cottage when Grace visited, and she had spent the morning baking and cleaning in preparation for the royalty. One can only imagine the widow flitting about the three rooms below, having lit the fire and swept the hearth, excited about meeting the prince and princess. A big black kettle was hung over the open fire for the tea later that day.
In the years that followed, Grace would send a card every Christmas to the widow. In 1976 she visited the widow at the MacBride Home for the Elderly and subsequently bought the cottage and its surrounding 35 acres of land.
Grace had plans to build a holiday home on the site. Plans were drawn up and planning permission granted by Mayo County Council for the new build. In 1979, Grace and her husband visited Mayo in 1979 and inspected the plans. Unfortunately, three years later, Grace died tragically in a car crash and her plans never came to fruition.
Today, the locals maintain the site. The grass is short, the hedge to the front of the house is kept cut back, and those wishing to view the house firsthand can walk in around the buildings as long as they avoid the “ram” that roams freely.
It’s sad to see the cottage, in such a beautiful location, and with such a fascinating history, crumbling into the ground. The site would surely be adequate (and the interest high enough) to provide for the renovation of the cottage to its former old style, and a small cafe/information centre dedicated both to the memory of Grace Kelly and to the lives of the people who lived in the area. Visitors could drink their tea and coffee at outdoor tables while enjoying stunning views out over the lake. With 35 acres, there would be room for a small car park too, and a one way system could probably be put in place around the lake which would take people in from the R311 and back onto it again. Or maybe that’s just my romantic notions taking over.