Funeral of hotelier honoured by Queen

Mrs Moira O`Neill pictured on her 90th birthday in the Londonderry Arms Hotel,Carnlough, which has been owned by the ONeill family for the last 67 years. INLT 01-001-PSB
Mrs Moira O`Neill pictured on her 90th birthday in the Londonderry Arms Hotel,Carnlough, which has been owned by the ONeill family for the last 67 years. INLT 01-001-PSB

The funeral took place in Carnlough on Friday of hotelier Moira O’Neill whose family has owned The Londonderry Arms Hotel since 1947.

Requiem Mass was held at Church of St. John the Evangelist for Mrs. O’Neill who died at the age of 94 years.

This year, the hotel, built as a coaching house in 1848, will celebrate 70 years of ownership by the O’Neill family.

After newly-weds Frank and Moira took over the hotel, The Londonderry Arms soon became renowned as somewhere that all would be warmly welcomed for a drink, a meal or an overnight stop.

During the Troubles, they worked tirelessly to build the tourism and hospitality industry and were founding members of the Antrim Coast Road Hotels and Caterers’ Association.

Moira travelled extensively throughout Ireland and Scotland to secure supplies and beverages, and as the business developed, it provided much-needed employment in the village.

Mrs. O’Neill was awarded an MBE in 1998 for services to the social and economic life of Northern Ireland. She was also a board member of the NI Tourist Board and the Catering Industry Training Board; a board member of the NI Water Council and a governor of St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower.

She warmly welcomed guests to the hotel, “making them feel comfortable and at home, always appreciating the support of hotel staff in building the local and international reputation of the business”.

According to her family, she “trained hundreds in hospitality skills, contributed and shaped the life of the small coastal village and leaves an indelible legacy.

“She was a gifted and hardworking business woman, a talented chef, interior designer and flower arranger. She loved art, antiques, local history, the natural world and going to the races. She was an impeccable classic dresser, loved fashion but above all, good company.

“She was always gracious and dignified and will be remembered as a warm-hearted, generous, fiercely determined and wise lady.”

Moira was the loving mother of Marnie, Francine, Liam, Siobhan, Frankie, Con, Patricia and Celine and grandmother of Ciara, Hugo, Francesca, Iona and Roisa.