New director for Princess Grace Irish Library

Paula Farquharson-Blengino has been named the new director of the Princess Grace Irish Library, taking over the reins from Judith Gantley who has held the post for 25 years.
It’s a changing of the guards at Monaco’s Princess Grace Irish Library. After a quarter of a century at the helm, Judith Gantley is stepping aside as director. In her place will be Irish-born Paula Farquharson-Blengino who has made a career in the fields of marketing, communication, journalism and events.
Ms Farquharson-Blengino says her passion for Ireland and its culture and literature inspired her to take the post at the library.
“This role felt like a perfect fit for me. All the experience that I’ve gained during my varied career can be leveraged to add value at the library,” Ms Farquharson-Blengino told Monaco Life. “And after years in the corporate world working in marketing and communications, I wanted to work in the non-profit sector; the library is under the aegis of the Princess Grace Foundation, which does such good work helping sick children and assisting young people embark on training for careers in the cultural domains such as literature, music and dance. This is a way to put my corporate experience to work for the good of others. And I have the bonus of a vast choice of books at my fingertips and for my two young sons too.”
The new director says she is looking to the future and will bring a fresh approach to the running of the facility whilst still maintaining time-honoured tradition.
“We will continue with the twice-yearly bursaries for writers, and we have a symposium planned with academics from Villanova University close to Philadelphia (Princess Grace’s hometown). We also want to develop collaboration with the schools in Monaco,” said Ms Farquharson-Blengino. “I also hope to have more film producers/script writers visit and give talks and workshops – given Princess Grace’s acting career it seems a natural step. In February we’ve planned an online conversation with Irish film director Mary McGuckian about her newly released film ‘A girl from Mogadishu’. Mary also produced the film ‘The Price of Desire’ about Eileen Gray, who designed and built the E-1027 villa at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.”
The Princess Grace Irish Library offers visitors a chance to peruse the private collections of books and music collected by the late princess. Additionally, the library gives patrons the opportunity to borrow novels written in English, many from Irish authors, as well as offering a vast selection of historically valuable reference materials.
Over the past 25 years, Judith Gantley has been charged with looking after the facility’s 12,000-strong book collection, as well as the paintings, objet d’art, photographs and music collection.
She has used her vast contacts to attract top-shelf personalities to the library to speak on a broad range of topics and has organised seminars once every two years, inviting experts in Irish literature and culture to speak to academics and others interested in the subject.
Paula Farquharson-Blengino is taking over at a difficult time when the health situation constrains her ability to organise most events, although some have been held virtually over the past months and she says she is looking forward to a hybrid offering with both live and online events going forward.
This is a time of transition for the library,” said the new director. “The health crisis is forcing us to review how things have always been done and adapt – we will go online with events and even when normal life resumes, the digital world will allow us to be more creative and reach more people, beyond the cosy, intimate setting of the physical library.”
Ms Farquharson-Blengino says her short-term goal is to keep the door of the Princess Grace Irish Library open for “young and old to receive an Irish céad míle fáilte (a thousand welcomes).”
Photo of Paula Farquharson-Blengino by Ed Wright Images