Northern Ireland news

Duchess of Abercorn dies after illness

Alexandra Hamilton, the Duchess of Abercorn, has died following an illness

THE Duchess of Abercorn has died following an illness.

Alexandra Hamilton, known as Sacha, Duchess of Abercorn, was 72. Born in Arizona in the US, she lived at Baronscourt in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone.

She was best known for establishing an all-Ireland creative arts programme for children. She established the Pushkin Prizes in honour of her Russian ancestor, novelist and playwright Alexander Puskhin.

She was also honorary secretary of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

In 2000 she was forced to cancel a trip to Catholic primary school St Mary's in Pomeroy after Sinn Féin councillor Finbarr Conway told the school's principal that parents had objected to a visit by a member of the British royal family.

The duchess said she was not a royal and criticised "misinformation which seems to upset what could be very good and creative programmes".

In recognition of her Russian roots, the duchess was honorary consul to the Russian Federation in Northern Ireland.

The Duchess of Abercorn and author Kate Newmann pictured at the launch of 'Nearness of Ice - Arctic Convoys'. Picture by Hugh Russell

In December 2016, she attended the launch of a new book on men from Northern Ireland who took part in the Arctic convoys which delivered essential supplies to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.

The book was published by the Pushkin Trust and the Arts Council.

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