06/08/2008

Terence O'Neill's Widow Dies, Aged 93

News has just broken of the death of the widow of Terence O'Neill, Jean.

Lady O'Neill of the Maine died at the age of 93, last month in England.

As the wife of a former Northern Ireland Prime Minister (pictured), Lady O'Neill led a varied life.

Born Katharine Jean Whitaker, to a Hampshire landed family, she married Irish Guard Officer Terence O'Neill in 1944.

The O'Neills later moved to Ballymena, where the then Mrs O'Neill became known for her elegant horse-riding prowess, while Mr O'Neill pursued his political ambitions.
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Lady O'Neill supported her husband throughout his six-year tenure as Northern Ireland Prime Minister, despite criticism of his premiership from both sides of the religious divide.

Upon his retirement in 1969 O'Neill was raised to the peerage as Baron O'Neill of the Maine.

Throughout her life Lady O'Neill held a passion for horticulture, and despite never regarding herself as anything more than an amateur, it was said she had an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants.

Lord O'Neill passed away in 1991. The couple are survived by a son and a daughter.

(PR/JM)

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