By Mary Fogarty
One night a little girl’s mother woke her up, dressed her in a pretty frock, and brought her to meet a princess.
On the night of Saturday, July 3, 1965, Enniskerry came to a standstill for the arrival of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco for ‘Le Bal de Petits Lits Blancs,’ for the French hospital charity at the Powerscourt Ballroom in County Wicklow.
The village was cordoned off for the car to come through under escort, en-route from Jury’s Hotel in Dublin to the stately home for the charity ball.
Grace famously wore a coral Givenchy gown, while Olive Clarke (2) wore a new dress and socks purchased by Mrs Gwen Slazenger, the owner of the house.
This was the first of two meetings Olive would have with the glamorous icon, the second over a decade later.
Olive’s father, Tom Clarke, ran the farm on the estate, and still does consulting work at Powerscourt after 53 years.
The family lived on the grounds at the time, and Mrs Slazenger asked if Olive would do the honours as her own daughter was away at boarding school.
Olive doesn’t remember the evening at all, however her mother May, who now lives in Glencree, recalls it in vivid detail. “Mrs Slazenger very kindly asked us if Olive would present the flowers. She bought her a new dress and socks.”