Traces in Dublin
Leopold von Ranke and Clarissa Graves
The pioneering German historian Leopold von Ranke was married to a Dublin woman Clarissa Graves, who became influential in Berlin.
Clarissa was born in Dublin in 1808, into a well-connected family living at 12 Fitzwilliam Square. She met Ranke, widely regarded as the father of modern historical writing, in Paris in 1843. They were married the same year and settled in Berlin, where Clarissa established an influential salon, attended by, among others, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling and the brothers Grimm. A prolific poet, she also promoted educational links between Ireland and Germany and created a sympathetic view of her homeland. Clarissa can be seen as a pioneer of Irish-German relations. Ranke himself wrote even-handedly about Irish history and visited Dublin in 1865.
During his stay, Clarissa and Leopold’s son Friedhelm remarked that his father was more famous in Dublin than in Berlin. Ranke studied official documents in the archives in the Custom House and was fascinated by the antiquities in the Royal Irish Academy. He received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin. It mattered greatly to him that the first such honour he received outside Germany was in the city where his wife was born.
Number 12 Fitzwilliam Square East is a private house and not open to the general public. However, during your next visit to Thuringia in Germany you can visit the Ranke Museum in Wiehe.
12 Fitzwilliam Square
„German Traces in Ireland“ is a project of the Goethe-Institut Irland.