THE REV WILLIAM CHICHESTER (1813-83),
eldest son of the Rev Edward Chichester, great-great-great-grandson of John Chichester, younger brother of Arthur 2nd Earl of Donegall, succeeded, in 1855, to the estates of his cousins, Charles, Earl O'Neill, and John, 3rd Viscount O'Neill (both extinct); and in that year assumed (by royal licence) the surname of O'NEILL.This gentleman married firstly, in 1839, Henrietta, daughter of Robert Torrens, a Judge of the Common Pleas in Ireland; and secondly, in 1858, Elizabeth Grace, daughter of the Ven Robert John Torrens DD, Archdeacon of Dublin.
He had issue by his first wife,
EDWARD, of whom hereafter;Dying in 1883, he was succeeded by his eldest son,
EDWARD, 2nd Baron, DP, DL, (1839-1928), who wedded, in 1873, Lady Louisa Katherine Emma Cochrane, daughter of 11th Earl of Dundonald, by whom he had issue,
William Thomas Cochrane (1874-82);His lordship was succeeded by his grandson (son of the Hon Arthur Edward Bruce O'Neill),
Arthur Edward Bruce (1876-1914), k/a;
Robert William Hugh, 1st Baron Rathcavan;
Louisa Henrietta Valdivia;
Rose Anne Mary;
SHANE EDWARD ROBERT, 3rd Baron (1907-44), who espoused, in 1932, Anne Geraldine Mary, daughter of the Hon Guy Lawrence Charteris (2nd son of 9th Earl of Wemyss); and by her had issue,
RAYMOND ARTHUR CLANABOY, 4th Baron O'Neill;The 3rd Baron was killed in action, in 1944, during the 2nd World War.
Fionn Frances Bride.
The Rt Hon Raymond Arthur Clanaboy 4th Baron O'Neill, KCVO, TD, JP, heads a most distinguished family, in historical and dynastic terms.
I have written about the house of O'Neill here.
Lord O'Neill has many interests, not least of which remains his stewardship of the family seat, Shane's Castle.
Shane's Castle now extends to about 3,000 acres.
Lord O'Neill was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order following his relinquishment as Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim in 2008.
Lord O'Neill has, like his father, had a military background.
His father, the 3rd Baron, was killed in action in 1944; so Lord O'Neill succeeded to the title when he was only 11 years old.
His other main interests include conservation, transport history and tourism. He held the office of chairman of the National Trust in NI for many years; and the NI Tourist Board too.
His passion is railways, particularly trains. I recall the Shane's Castle railway, which ran through the demesne, and visited it as a child.
Lord O'Neill was the stepson of Ian Fleming, the James Bond creator.
His uncle Terence, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, was a former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
He has three sons: the Hon Shane O'Neill, his heir; the Hon Tyrone O'Neill; and the Hon Rory O'Neill.
The Shane's Castle estate is one of the largest and finest private demesnes in Northern Ireland, extending to some 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, tragically, was burnt by the IRA in 1922 (as was the nearby 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 mansion house 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 neo-Georgian house is classical and well-proportioned, with a handsome fanlighted doorway.
First published in July, 2008.