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MP Kinahan pays tribute to artist mum who helped rebuild Castle Upton

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/08/2015

Lady Coralie Kinahan in the gallery at her home in July 1980
Lady Coralie Kinahan in the gallery at her home in July 1980
Lady Coralie Kinahan at work in her studio
Danny Kinahan
Chris de Burgh

A Northern Ireland MP has paid tribute to his mother, a well-known artist, who died yesterday aged 90.

Lady Coralie De Burgh Kinahan served as Lady Mayoress of Belfast from 1959 and 1961 and was the person behind the restoration of Castle Upton from ruins into a family home.

She also supported her husband, Sir Robin Kinahan, throughout his business and political careers and was a model mother to their son Danny, now the UUP MP for South Antrim.

Fondly remembering her drive and energy, Mr Kinahan said: "She was always doing something. There was no sitting around growing up in our house.

"I'd be hiding round the corner with a book and she would arrive in with plants for the garden."

Lady Kinahan was born in England in 1925 to the De Burgh family, and she was brought up between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

She had a strong friendship with Maeve Davison, the mother of the Irish singer Chris De Burgh.

Danny said his mother regarded the De Burgh base in Co Kildare as where her roots lay, and said she would not have liked to have been known as English.

He also revealed how she was very close to her father, who served in the Royal Navy submarine section, and followed in his footsteps by serving as a Wren during the Second World War.

After the end of the conflict she moved to Belfast, where she met her future husband through mutual friends.

They married in 1950 and went on to have five children.

The couple bought Castle Upton in Templepatrick and rebuilt it from ruins.

Danny said his mother had an image of how she wanted the home to be and visited auction houses across the country searching for pieces for the refurbishment effort.

"She was always very practical," he said. "She did it all. She went around auctions for pieces of marble and did all the garden. She had a vision of what she wanted, and she did it all with this phenomenal drive."

Today, Danny and his brother still live in the castle, where their mother's works adorn the walls.

Lady Kinahan's husband died in 1997 at the age of 81. He worked initially for the family wine and spirits company, Lyle and Kinahan, before serving in the Royal Artillery, the 8th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, during the Second World War.

He then entered politics in 1948 as a councillor in Belfast, and he was briefly a Stormont MP for Clifton, before becoming Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Danny told how his mother was delighted by his election success earlier this year, when he won the South Antrim seat for the UUP.

"Mum would have loved to have been in politics herself but maybe would not have been as patient as some others," he said.

"She was so pleased when I was elected earlier this year, and she loved supporting my dad when he was elected and later when he served as Lord Lieutenant."

Danny's fondest memories of his mother include her great laugh and how she passed on her love of animals and the countryside to him and his siblings.

Lady Kinahan had been living independently in England, close to two of her daughters, until just under a year ago.

She is survived by four of her five children and 15 grandchildren. Her funeral will be in England and a memorial service will be held at Castle Upton on a date yet to be announced.

Belfast Telegraph

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