Wednesday, 4 December 2019

1st Baron Rathcavan

THE HON (ROBERT WILLIAM) HUGH O'NEILL (1883-1982) was the third son of the 2nd Baron O'Neill.

Having served in the Army as a major, O'Neill entered politics and became the Northern Ireland parliament's first Speaker.

He was appointed to the Privy Council of Northern Ireland and became Lord-Lieutenant for County Antrim, 1949-59.

Speaker O'Neill was created a baronet in 1929, designated of Cleggan, County Antrim.

Sir Hugh was elevated to the peerage, in 1953,  in the dignity of BARON RATHCAVAN, of The Braid, County Antrim, when the baronetcy merged with the barony.

His lordship married, in 1909, Sylvia Irene, daughter of Walter Albert Sandeman, and had issue,
PHELIM ROBERT HUGH, his successor;
Con Douglas Walter (Sir), GCMG, father of Onora, Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve;
Nial Arthur Ramleh.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

PHELIM ROBERT HUGH, 2nd Baron (1909-94), PC, MP for North Antrim, 1959-72, who wedded firstly, Clare Désirée, daughter of Detmar Jennings Blow, and had issue,
HUGH DETMAR TORRENS, his successor;
Mary Rose.
He married secondly, in 1953, Bridget Doreen, daughter of Major the Hon Richard Coke, and had further issue,
Rosetta Anne; Kathleen; Moira Louisa; Grania Elizabeth.
The 2nd Baron undertook a not dissimilar career pattern as his father, entering politics having served in the Army.

He was, it is thought, a founder member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Lord Rathcavan lived at Lizard Manor, Aghadowey, County Londonderry, and Killala Lodge, County Mayo, Ireland, which was described thus in 1996:
The seven-bedroom Georgian house on five and a half acres is owned by Bridget Lady Rathcavan, widow of the well known Northern Ireland politician, Sir Phelim O'Neill.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

HUGH DETMAR TORRENS, 3rd Baron (1939-), of Cleggan Lodge, who married, in 1983, Sylvie Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Georges Wichard, and had issue, an only child,

FRANÇOIS HUGH NIAL (b 1984), his successor.

Lord Rathcavan (known as Hugh O'Neill in those days) was the proprietor of the Brompton Bar & Grill.


CLEGGAN LODGE, near Broughshane, County Antrim, has been owned at various times by the O'Neills and the O'Haras.

It is two-storey, with a front of two bows linked by a wooden first-floor balcony.

There are double gables. The roof formerly thatched and windows at one time latticed.

There is an octagonal drawing-room and dining-room; and an imposing double staircase.

There are modern additions to the rear.

Formerly a shooting lodge for Shane’s Castle, the site is known to have been in existence in 1777.

An entry for 1835 records that it was ‘… surrounded by extensive plantations chiefly consisting of fir and larch and extends over about 200 acres.’

Fraser described it in 1838 as, ‘… the beautiful hunting seat of Earl O’Neill’s.’

Extensive landscaping and tree planting were carried out, presumably as shelter and cover.

Cleggan Lodge was built by the 1st Earl O’Neill in 1822 in order to keep one of his mistresses, and as a shooting lodge on the edge of his extensive grouse moors in north Antrim. 

He died without a male heir and, after Gladstone’s Irish Land Acts, the great estates diminished.

In 1927, Sir Hugh O’Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan, bought the Cleggan Estate.

It was renovated in the 1920s in a fine elevated site with views of Slemish.

ha-ha separates the house from parkland.

There are good mature trees in the parkland and in woodland.

A considerable area was once ornamentally planted.

A lake is drained at present.

A pond, Fisher’s Pond, was added sometime before 1857 and a rockery made in the glen by the present owner's grandfather post-1927.

These features are partially maintained in that paths are kept clear.

A cultivated and productive garden is kept at the house in immaculate order, including herbaceous borders, a hot house and frames.

This present garden is post-1927.

One of the two gate lodges survives.

Cleggan estate extends to about 1,000 acres and is renowned for the Cleggan Shoot.

First published in June, 2010.  Rathcavan arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

2 comments :

Irishlad said...

The prices in the Brompton bar & grill are very reasonable indeed for London..for anywhere in fact.

Christopher Bellew said...

BB&G is dog-friendly which may be of interest to some of your readers.