Co Antrim hotelier Moira O’Neill passes away aged 94

Moira O'Neill, who owned the Londonderry Arms Hotel for almost 70 years
Moira O'Neill, who owned the Londonderry Arms Hotel for almost 70 years

A woman who ran a Co Antrim hotel for almost 70 years has died at the age of 94.

Moira O’Neill, who is thought to have been the oldest hotelier in Northern Ireland, passed away on Tuesday.

She was the owner of the Londonderry Arms hotel in the village of Carnlough.

Moira took over the hotel in 1947 with her husband Frank O’Neill, and the pair became renowned as one of the longest-serving families in Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry.

Moira was awarded an MBE for her services, and her late husband Frank was also honoured with a posthumous accolade at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

Born in 1923 in Scotland, Moira moved to the Province in her late teenage years with her father, sister and brother to live in Co Tyrone.

It was there she met Frank, a gifted footballer and apple grower.

After their marriage they bought the hotel on the Antrim coast and spent the years after Second World War building the business up.

Throughout the Troubles, Moira and Frank worked tirelessly to build the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.

The Londonderry Arms remains in the O’Neill family and is currently run by Moira’s daughter-in-law, Denise O’Neill.

The hotel was built in 1848 as a coaching inn by Frances Anne Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry.

It was briefly owned by Sir Winston Churchill, who sold the hotel to the Lyons family in 1934.