Monday, 28 December 2020

1st Baron O'Neill

EDWARD, 1st VISCOUNT CHICHESTER (1568-1648), Governor of Carrickfergus, Lord High Admiral of Lough Neagh, married firstly, in 1605, Anne, daughter of John Coplestone, and had issue,
JOHN, of whom we treat;
He wedded secondly, between 1616-26, Mary Denham.

The second son,

THE HON JOHN CHICHESTER (1609-47), a colonel in the King's Army, espoused Mary, eldest daughter of Roger Jones, 1st Viscount Ranelagh, and had issue,
Arthur, succeeded as 2nd Earl of Donegall;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Elizabeth; two other daughters.
The younger son,

JOHN CHICHESTER, was father of

THE REV WILLIAM CHICHESTER, who married Lydia, daughter of Henry Arvse, and had issue,

THE REV ARTHUR CHICHESTER (1716-68), Vicar of Drummaul, Randalstown. who wedded Mary, daughter of Henry O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, and was father of

THE REV WILLIAM CHICHESTER (1742-1815), Rector of Broughshane, Rector of Clonmany, who espoused firstly, Mary Anne, daughter of George Harvey, and had issue,
SIR ARTHUR CHICHESTER, 1st and last Baronet.
He married secondly, Mary Anne, daughter of the Rev William Hart, and had further issue,
EDWARD, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE REV EDWARD CHICHESTER, Rector of Kilmore, County Armagh, married, in 1812, Catherine, daughter of Robert Young, and had issue,
WILLIAM, of whom we treat;
Robert (Rev);
George Vaughan (Rev).
The eldest son,

THE REV WILLIAM CHICHESTER (1813-83), Prebendary of St Michael's, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 1848, succeeded, in 1855, to the estates of his second cousin twice removed, John, 3rd Viscount O'Neill.

In the same year he assumed (by royal licence) the surname of O'NEILL.

He married firstly, in 1839, Henrietta, daughter of Robert Torrens, a Judge of the Common Pleas in Ireland, and had issue,
EDWARD, of whom hereafter;
The Rev William O'Neill wedded secondly, in 1858, Elizabeth Grace, daughter of the Ven Dr Robert John Torrens, Archdeacon of Dublin.

He was elevated to the peerage, in 1868, in the dignity of BARON O'NEILL, of Shane's Castle, County Antrim.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 2nd Baron (1839-1928), JP DL, who espoused, in 1873, the Lady Louisa Katherine Emma Cochrane, daughter of the 11th Earl of Dundonald, and had issue,
William Thomas Cochrane (1874-82);
Arthur Edward Bruce (1876-1914), killed in action;
Robert William Hugh, created BARON RATHCAVAN;
Louisa Henrietta Valdivia; Rose Anne Mary; Alice Esmeralda.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson (son of the Hon Arthur Edward Bruce O'Neill),

SHANE EDWARD ROBERT, 3rd Baron (1907-44), who married, in 1932, Anne Geraldine Mary, daughter of the Hon Guy Lawrence Charteris (second son of 9th Earl of Wemyss), and had issue,
Fionn Frances Bride.
The 3rd Baron was killed in action, 1944, during the 2nd World War, and was succeeded by his only son,

RAYMOND ARTHUR CLANABOY, 4th and present Baron, KCVO TD, of Shane's Castle, who wedded, in 1963, Georgina Mary, daughter of Lord George Francis John Montagu Scott, and has issue,
Tyrone Alexander, b 1966;
Rory St John, b 1968.
THE HON SHANE SEBASTIAN CLANABOY O'NEILL (1965-), married, in 1997, Celia Frances, daughter of Peter Hickman, and has issue,
CON, b 2000;
Hugo Peter Raymond, b 2002.

I have written about the house of O'Neill here.

4th & present Lord O'Neill (Image: Randalstown Heritage Society)

The present Lord O'Neill's main interests include conservation, transport history and tourism.

He was chairman of the National Trust in NI for many years and a former chairman of the NI Tourist Board.

Lord O'Neill's passion is railways, particularly trains.

I recall the Shane's Castle railway, which ran through the demesne, and visited it as a child.

He was the stepson of Ian Fleming, the James Bond creator.

His uncle, the Rt Hon Terence O'Neill (afterwards the Lord O'Neill of the Maine), was a former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Shane's Castle estate is one of the largest private demesnes in Northern Ireland, comprising about 3,000 acres.

It lies in a particularly scenic, not to say strategic, position on the northeast shore of Lough Neagh, between Antrim and Randalstown.

Part of the Estate is a nature reserve.

The O'Neill family has had a hapless history with regard to the fate of their houses: the first Shane's Castle dated from the early 1600s and was utterly destroyed by an accidental fire in 1816.

The family moved to a small house adjoining the stables.

This house was replaced in 1865 by a larger, Gothic-Victorian castle which was burnt by the IRA in 1922 (as was the near by Antrim Castle).

Its ruin was subsequently cleared away, and for the next 40 or so years the family lived once again in the stables.

The present Neo-Georgian house (above) at Shane's Castle, County Antrim, was built in 1958 for the present Lord O'Neill to the designs of Arthur Jury, of Blackwood & Jury, architects.

The formal gardens to the south were laid out from the 1960s.

This house was built to replace a Victorian predecessor designed by architects Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon, which was built in 1865 on a site immediately to the north, facing this house across the stable yard, but which was maliciously burnt in 1922.

The Victorian castle was itself a replacement for the original Shane's Castle, which was accidentally burnt in 1816.

A proposal to replace the Victorian castle with a Neo-Georgian house designed by the English architect Oliver Hill in 1938 was not carried out.

The present house is classical and well-proportioned, with a handsome fanlight doorway.

First published in July, 2008. O'Neill arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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