Lives Remembered

Margaret Mooney: Hotelier's life marked by service to family and community

Margaret Mooney (left)

MARGARET Mooney's remarkable career in the hotel industry spanned 66 years.

She and her husband Cathal were synonymous with one of the best known names in Belfast hospitality, the Wellington Park Hotel.

A hub for students, academics and artists on the Malone Road - alongside the neighbouring Botanic Inn which they also owned for many years - the 'Welly Park' was bombed no less than seven times during the Troubles.

The family home on Derryvolgie Avenue was also targeted by bombers.

However, Margaret’s resilience, work ethic and determination helped not only rebuild the business each time but see it expand in later years across Northern Ireland.

She was always focussed on giving service to others and the local community.

Right into her nineties she maintained an involvement in the companies and she was immensely proud to see the Mooney Hotel Group become a fourth generation family business.

Born Margaret Keyland in Ballymena in 1926, where her family owned the Fairhill public house, she was among the early women graduates of Queen’s University Belfast.

Her initial career was in education, teaching geography and Latin in Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch.

However, in 1953 Margaret married the hotelier Cathal Mooney and joined the family business running the Wellington Park and Botanic Inn.

Their partnership expanded with the acquisition of the Dunadry Hotel in Templepatrick, Co Antrim in 1986, which was sold in 2018.

They also became part-owners of the new Armagh City Hotel in 2001 and the group had re-purchased the Botanic Inn in recent years.

Margaret carried on in the business with Cathal until his death in 2009 and continued in an advisory role until this year.

She also served during the 1970s and 1980s as a member of the Senate of University of Ulster, as president of the Queen’s University Women’s Graduate Association and chair of Belfast Education and Library Board.

A keen golfer, she was a former Lady Captain of Ardglass Golf Club in Co Down and later a member of the Malone club in Belfast.

She supported Maynooth University, as well as the development of Bethlehem University in Israel and shared education between Christian and Muslim students.

Margaret was a frequent traveller to the Holy Land, became Dame of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and was awarded the Palm of Jerusalem in 2019.

She had a passion for travel, sport and a love of music and her life was marked by tremendous service to family, community and the Church.

Margaret Mooney died on April 13 and was buried during a private funeral service in Ardglass, where Cathal was laid to rest.

A full Requiem Mass will be held in her memory in the due course.

She is survived by her children Charles, Felix, Margaret, John, Ellen, Arthur, Robert and Sara, 32 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Lives Remembered