Renowned hotelier Moira O'Neill dies after almost seven decades in charge of Londonderry Arms

Moira O'Neill, one of Northern Ireland's most renowned hoteliers, has died. Picture by Declan Roughan
John Monaghan

ONE of Northern Ireland's most renowned hoteliers has died after owning a Co Antrim hotel for almost seven decades.

Moira O'Neill, who was in her early 90s and believed to be the oldest hotelier in the north, died on Tuesday.

Mrs O'Neill was the owner of the Londonderry Arms hotel in the village of Carnlough, which remains in the family.

Originally from Scotland, she married Tyrone man Frank O'Neill and the couple took over the hotel in 1947.

She was awarded an MBE for her services to the hospitality industry.

The hotel was built in 1848 as a coaching inn by Frances Anne Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry.

In the 1920s and early 1930s it was owned by Sir Winston Churchill, who sold the hotel to the Lyons family in 1934.

During the Second World War the Londonderry Arms was commissioned by the army to allow for the recuperation of wounded soldiers.

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said the passing of Mrs O'Neill was a "big blow to the village".

Mr McKeown said: "The Londonderry Arms is the centrepiece of the village. Moira O'Neill was a very well-known and respected woman.

"She had been ill for a number of years but up until recently she was fairly active in village life. Her presence in the village will be sorely missed."

A funeral notice from the O'Neill family said: "She will be missed by her many friends, customers and the local community."

Requiem Mass for Mrs O'Neill will be celebrated at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Carnlough at noon on Friday, followed by burial at Calvary Cemetery.

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