Ranji Maharajah of Gonnemara

Ranji Maharajah of Gonnemara

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Item Code: NAE543
Author: Anne Chambers
Publisher: The Lotus Collection
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 9788174363442
Pages: 223
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 150 gm
About The Book

Indian prince Ranjitsinghji was the most famous cricket-player of his generation In 1924, the inhabitants of Connemara, on the west coast of Ireland, were amazed when this exotic stranger fell in love with Ballynahinch Castle and decided to move in.

Using rare documt5 from Government and personal archives, private photographs and personal stories from people who knew or worked for ‘The Ranji’ as they called him, biographer Anne Chambers, brings this intriguing story to light for the first time. She reveals the reasons behind Ranji’ strange decision, and looks at the fascinating legacy the Maharajah left behind.

About The Author

Anne Chambers is a novelist, scriptwriter and best selling biographer. Her books include Granuaile, The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley, as Wicked A Woman, Eleanor Countless of Desmond (shortlisted for the 1987 GPA Award ) Adorable Diva, the biography of the prima donna, Margaret Burke Sheridan and The Geraldine Conspiracy, a historical novel.

Prologue

The morning mist parted to reveal the Dublin Bay skyline. The Wicklow Mountains, punctuated by the twin peaks of the two Sugarloaves to the south and the bulkhead of the Hill of Howth to the north, greeted passengers on the mail boat from Holyhead. To the curious visitor it was a surprisingly tranquil first glimpse of a country thought of as threatening and unstable. On this Saturday morning, it was viewed from within the boat’s first-class salon with curiosity, mingled with some apprehension, by the first official visitor to the new Irish Free State.

The mail boat sailed into Kingstown Harbour and tied up at its accustomed berth. To the curious bystanders it was obvious that this daily occurrence was, that morning, different. A contingent of the newly formed National Guard was drawn up on the quayside. Irish Free State ministers and officials stood waiting nearby. Attracted by the spectacle, the crowd of onlookers grew. AU eyes were riveted on the gangway. After a slight delay, to a murmur of astonishment from the crowd, a figure appeared, dressed in a blue silk dress-coat, white leggings and a white turban, in the centre of which was a large emerald. His dark face wreathed in smiles, the figure advanced with a jaunty step and shook hands with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Desmond Fitzgerald. Thus began a nine-year love affair between His Highness Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, famous cricketer and statesman, and Ireland — an. affair that would culminate only with his sudden death in 1933.

What brought this anglicised Indian prince to a place far removed from the sophisticated social and sporting circles to which he belonged; to a country whose political ethos was diametrically opposed to his own? In the years immediately prior to his arrival, Ireland had been engaged in a bitter struggle for freedom from the same empire to which Ranjitsinhji gave absolute allegiance and to which he owed his status as ruler. Moreover, the Irish Free State was still affected by acts of violence from disaffected republicans, often directed against the landowning class that Ranjitsinhji aspired to join. The sport that had elevated him into a superstar in Britain was not only a minority sport in Ireland, but also regarded by many as the sport of the oppressor.

The story of Ranjitsinhji — or, as he was more familiarly known, Ranji — as a cricketer is, perhaps, familiar to some. His life as the owner of an estate in Connemara on the west coast of Ireland, however, has remained elusive. From private and public papers, from rare and hitherto unpublished photographs, from the personal reminiscences of people who knew and worked for him and of their descendents, his life in Ireland from 1924 through 1933 is chronicled here for the first time. In Connemara, ‘the Ranji’, as he came to be known, has become part of folk memory, as those who worked for him or made his acquaintance remember with affection, humour and not a little gratitude Ballynahinch Castle and Estate in ‘the Ranji’s’ time.

While this biography focuses on Ranji’s association with Ireland, the research also unearthed evidence of the troubled and darker side of this Indian autocrat, in relation to his connections with the state of Nawanagar and with the British Raj: his spendthrift ways; his indebtedness; his manipulation of his state’s finances; his political inflexibility; his addiction to western life, at the expense of his duty, which made him become a virtual absentee ruler in his own state; and his eventual alienation from the Empire to which he had given such unswerving loyalty. And while Ireland, for a time, became his escape from the, political and financial troubles that haunted him in India and in England, in the end even his beloved Connemara could not shield Ranji from the inevitable.

Contents

AknowledgementsVII
PrologueIX
Chapter 1: The Hair1
Chapter 2: Indian Magic21
Chapter 3: The Jam Saheb47
Chapter 4: Ballynahinch79
Chapter 5: The Prince at Play108
Chapter 6: The Master of Ballynahinch124
Chapter 7: In the Ranji's Time141
Chapter 8: Fair Game161
Chapter 9: The Prince Goes Home183
Epilogue195
Bibliography198
References201
Glossary205
Index206
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