OBITUARY: Coralie Kinahan, painter and ‘backbone’ to MP husband

Coralie Kinahan with husband Robin
Coralie Kinahan with husband Robin

Lady Coralie Kinahan was a painter whose work reached the international stage, having been a bronze medal winner for Britain at the 1948 Olympic exhibition.

The wife of Sir Robin Kinahan, and mother of UUP MP Danny Kinahan, she died last month aged 90.

Coralie Kinahan

Coralie Kinahan

Born on September 16, 1924, in Sussex, her mother gave birth on a dining table illuminated by car headlights.

She was the daughter of Kildare Royal Navy captain Charles De Burgh and Ulsterwoman Isabel (nee Campbell).

Due to her father’s military career (which had included serving on a midget submarine during World War One), Coralie moved around the British Isles and was educated variously in Ballycastle, Dumfriesshire, Durham and Tyneside,

She went on to study at the Chelsea School of Art, and by age 20 her work was hanging in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Coralie Kinahan with husband Robin

Coralie Kinahan with husband Robin

Her 1948 medal was accorded to her for her painting of a pink-clad fox-hunter called ‘The Huntsman of the Vyne’, exhibited at the London Summer Olympics.

Throughout her whole career, she was estimated to have painted roughly 2,000 paintings.

She married Belfast-born politician Sir Robin Kinahan in around 1950, having met him at a dance.

He went on to become a UUP MP and Lord Mayor of Belfast.

She had lived in Mallusk but from around the 1960s she and her husband settled in the stately dwelling of Castle Upton in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, which she set about restoring from a state of some disrepair.

“She was quite political. She’d have loved to have been running the country,” joked Danny.

“If you had top businessmen and politicians around the table mum would drive the conversation with a lot of wit and humour, whereas dad would be more the quiet, thinking one round the other side. They were a wonderful duo.”

She regarded herself as an Irishwoman rather than an Englishwoman, but was “fiercely” pro-Union, added Danny – who said she had been her father’s “backbone”.

When Sir Robin died in 1997 she decided to move to Amesbury Abbey to the north of Salisbury, close to where two of her daughters were living.

Her funeral was told that she continued painting well into her later years, and often wandered onto other people’s land and set up and easel – sometimes resulting in confrontations with irate gamekeepers.

She had been unwell for a number of years, and died of old age on July 31.

Her funeral was held in the Anglican church of St Mary and St Melor, Amesbury, on August 12, and a thanksgiving Service was held at St Patrick’s in Templepatrick on Tuesday September 1.

She was cremated in Salisbury.

She had loved wildlife, and her ashes scattered on fields belonging to her family in Templepatrick.

“It’s where there are kingfishers and otters, in view of the castle – she has everything there,” said Danny.

She is survived by daughters Lulu and Vivi (her other daughter Emma predeceased her from cancer in 1980) sons Danny and Harry, 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.