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Northern Ireland equestrian community mourns death of aristocrat Lady Jane

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland's racing and equestrian community has been saddened to learn of the death of Lady Jane Gillespie last Thursday.

She had been ill for some time.

Lady Jane (55) was very well regarded in equestrian circles, regularly showed horses at Balmoral Show, and was a highly accomplished exponent of the art of riding side saddle - having taken up that discipline following a hip problem.

She hunted with the Mid Antrim Hunt and was also an equine therapist and author.

Born in Switzerland in 1962 into one of the UK's most aristocratic families, Lady Jane was the daughter of the 6th Earl of Caledon and the Baroness de Graevenitz.

Educated at public school in England, Lady Jane was the sister of the 7th Earl of Caledon, and spent a great deal of her life at the family's 5,000 acre estate in Caledon, Co Tyrone, where she trained horses.

Lady Jane was married three times - firstly to war cameraman Rory Peck, who was killed in Moscow in 1993 (they were divorced in 1987), then to landowner Andrew Dobbs of Carrickfergus, from whom she was divorced in 1999.

After her divorce from Mr Dobbs, she spent time in the USA, returning some years later to Northern Ireland.

She married her third husband - Armagh owner, breeder and trainer Dr Fitzroy Gillespie of Tynan, Co Armagh, in 2013.

Lady Jane hit the headlines in 2008 when she told the Daily Mail that she was having to leave the family estate at Caledon because her brother - the 7th Earl of Caledon - had banned her from riding through his 250-acre deer park.

The Earl - who has served as Lord Lieutenant of Armagh since 1989 - told the London newspaper: "There is no question of evicting her.

"She lives rent-free and she can stay as long as she likes.

"But my hands are tied.

"If she rides her horses through the deer park, she eventually acquires rights over the land and the estate cannot allow that.

"It has to protect the land for the sake of future generations, including my 17-year-old son, who'll inherit it from me."

She moved her horses to stables at Castle Leslie in the Republic, later returning to Northern Ireland.

Lady Jane - known as 'Janey' to her friends - was also a successful racehorse owner and National Hunt trainer for many yeas. She sent out Caledon Craic and Faith Keeper in recent seasons to win on the racecourse, while Keephimbachwilliam won at the Fermanagh point-to-point festival the weekend before her death.

Friends described her as a quiet, unassuming lady with a passion for everything equestrian - and a very supportive friend.

Lady Jane is survived by her husband, two sons and three daughters.

Her funeral is to take place this Wednesday at Caledon Church.

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