Guglielmo Marconi’s Irish Connections | Cassandra Voices

Guglielmo Marconi’s Irish Connections


The life of Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, has been celebrated on two primary occasions in Ireland. First, in 1997 at the centenary of his first wireless transmissions, and also in 2007 at the centenary of his first commercial TransAtlantic wireless transmissions between Ireland and Canada.

Both anniversaries were celebrated in Clifden, Connemara, where, in a rural site at Derrigimlagh, Marconi had built his most powerful radio station fit for the purpose.

For the 2007 celebrations, I produced a twenty minute documentary on the life and achievements of Marconi. This was presented at the Italian Institute of Culture in the presence of a select audience, which included Marconi’s daughter Princess Elettra, and her son Gugliemo.

The documentary entitled “Marcon’s Legacy in Ireland” is a comprehensive, somewhat emotional profile of Marconi that engages with him as a man and father, as well as his profound scientific achievements.

Tracing the path of his life from birth in 1874 to death in 1937, it shows how, as a young boy, he showed a passion for constructing rudimentary gadgets that drew on the filed of electromagnetism, for which he and developed a deep fascination.

This culminated in him developing the capacity to transmit wireless messages to his brother in the perimeter of his garden in Villa Griffone, his family home near Bologna.

That was only the beginning of a distinguished career as an inventor which led to the invention of radio, as we know it today.

Marconi’s many links with Ireland are highlighted in the documentary, including a connection with the RTÉ grounds where Montrose House stands, which was inhabited for some time by Marconi’s mother, Annie Jameson who was a member of the famous family of distillers.

Indeed, his first wife Beatrice O’Brien, was the daughter of Lord Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle, Co Clare; although he eventually, amicably divorced her to marry an Italian countess Cristina Bezzi Scali.

His surviving daughter Princess Elettra, was the guest of honour at the presentation of the documentary at the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin in 2007.

She said: “I love Ireland and I know Ireland was very important to my father, I’m very grateful because Annie Jameson was the only one who believed in my father when he was very young.”

In 1909, Marconi shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun for their “contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy” (radio communications).

Feature Image: Marconi demonstrating apparatus he used in his first long-distance radio transmissions in the 1890s. The transmitter is at right, the receiver with paper tape recorder at left.


About Author

Originally from the island of Sicily, veteran Italian journalist, author and filmmaker Concetto La Malfa has spent almost sixty years in Ireland. He broadcasts from

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