Packed house in Aachen for launch of Pat’s book on Dingle’s Count Rice

Pat and Anne Neligan at the gate of the Irish College in Louven
Pat and Anne Neligan at the gate of the Irish College in Louven

Local historian Pat Neligan has just returned from Aachen where the launch of the German translation of his book 'Knave of Trumps - The life and times of Count James Louis Rice' received a great reception.

A packed house attended a reading of the book in Germany's most western city, where Count Rice lived for a time during in the late 18th Century. Rice left such an impression in Aachen-Brand that the title of the German translation is 'Graf James Louis Rice, the man who created the cradle of Aachen equestrian sports'.

Pat was the guest of honour at a reception in the Rathaus (city hall), where he and his wife Anne were greeted by the Lord Mayor of Aachen, dignatories, professors and archivists. The German city also organised a six-day tour of the area for Pat and Anne, during which they visited sites associated with Rice, including the Irish College in Leuven, where Rice studied to be a priest from 1766 to 1769. Pat was greatly impressed by the inscription in Irish above the gate of the college, which reads: 'Do chum Glóir Dé agus Onóra na hÉireann' [For the Glory of God and the Honour of Ireland].

Despite studying for the priesthood Rice took another direction in life, becoming a notorious swordsman, gambler and socialite. In Aachen he is particularly remembered for his attempts to build a race course and a stud farm. The enterprise failed but Rice is credited with setting Aachen on a course to becoming the international equestrian centre that it is today.

The translation of Pat's book, which includes extended information on Rice's activities in Aachen, was made possible by the support of Belgian industrialist Ritter bourseaux and is for sale in local bookshops in Aachen.