EPIC love stories through the ages

Spanning hundreds of years and dozens of countries, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum features many romantic tales of the Irish diaspora.

Featuring glamorous royals, heroic matchmakers and trailblazing lesbians, here are three iconic love stories from our archives.

Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III

Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III

When Irish-American actress Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, sparks flew. But the moments leading up to this were far from perfect.

In 1955, Oscar winner Kelly was invited to the Cannes Film Festival. She was also asked to do a photoshoot at the palace. Initially, she refused. But she changed her mind when the prince rescheduled the time to suit her.

On the day of the shoot, electricity was out in all of Cannes. So Kelly had to make do without a hair dryer or an iron. Then, when she arrived at the palace, she was annoyed to find that Prince Rainier was late.

When he finally arrived, they explored the palace – and its private zoo! Afterwards, they wrote to each other which led to their marriage a year later. Over 30 million viewers watched as Kelly became Princess of Monaco.

Chevalier Charles Wogan

British Memorial Coins

In 1718, Charles Wogan played a pivotal role in another royal union – as matchmaker and rescuer.

Born in Kildare, Wogan worked for prince James III – claimant to the British throne. He travelled Europe in search of a suitor for his master. Eventually, he found princess Maria Clementina – the daughter of exiled Polish king James Sobieski.

But the sitting British monarch, George I, didn’t want his rival marrying a princess of such standing.

While crossing through Austria on the way to her wedding in Rome, she was kidnapped under the orders of Austria’s Emperor Charles VI – George’s ally and her cousin! 

So Wogan headed up a rescue mission. With three other men and an Irishwoman, he defied snowstorms to rescue the princess. Though the authorities knew they were coming, a decoy tricked them. Wogan later served as a witness at the royal wedding.

The Ladies of Llangollen

Illustration of The Ladies of Llangollen

Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby were two upper-class, Anglo-Irish women from Kilkenny. They ran away to Wales in search of seclusion In 1780.

In Ireland, their relationship scandalised people. When in Wales, they hoped to be left alone but in their new home, near the town of Llangollen, they also attracted attention. In fact, throughout the whole of Britain, they became known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Even Queen Charlotte knew of them and wanted to see their cottage.

Despite the public’s fascination, the two women actually led quite boring lives and happily spent the next 50 years together.

Steeped in history and stories of romance, enjoy a virtual tour through EPIC’s stunning interactive galleries. If you have any interesting tales of relatives who found love after leaving Ireland, please share them at: story@epicchq.com.

Photo credit: Getty Images