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Tuesday 12 November 2019

'Irish mammy' championed Marconi

Grainne Cunningham

WITHOUT the encouragement of a fiercely stubborn Irish woman, the father of radio Guglielmo Marconi might not have been so successful, the inventor's daughter said yesterday.

Princess Elettra Marconi credited her grandmother Annie Jameson, of the well-known distilling family, with her father's youthful persistence to prove his theories to the sceptics.

"She was the only one who believed in my father when he was a young boy," said the princess, during a visit to RTE radio studios yesterday.

The princess also visited Montrose House on the grounds of the RTE campus, the ancestral home of her grandmother.

Annie Jameson defied the wishes of her parents when she married Giuseppe Marconi and was just as single-minded in encouraging her second son's passion in physics.

She hired private tutors and travelled to London with him when the Italian government showed little interest in his experiments.

Marconi made his first wireless radio transmission in 1895 when he was only 21 and went on to win the Nobel prize for physics.

But for Princess Elettra (80), the most poignant memories are of the beloved father she lost on her seventh birthday in 1937 when he died following a series of heart attacks.

"It was like a part of myself, I never replaced him," she said.

She became a princess when she married Italian Prince Carlo Giovanelli in 1966. They have since divorced but Princess Elettra and her son Guglielmo are both frequent visitors to Ireland.

"We love it and have many friends here," she said.

The main purpose of their visit on this occasion is to attend two dinners in aid of the Children's Sunshine Home in Foxrock, Co Dublin. The dinners are being hosted at Bellagio restaurant.

Apart from his mother, Marconi had other close ties to Ireland. His first wife was Beatrice O'Brien, a daughter of Edward Donough O'Brien, 14th Baron of Inchiquin. They had three daughters and a son.

He also built his most powerful radio station near Clifden, Connemara, Co Galway from where he made his first commercial radio transmission across the Atlantic to Glace Bay in Canada and back.

Irish Independent

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