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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Historic Londonderry Arms Hotel welcomes new owners

The Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, County Antrim

Located in picturesque Carnlough in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, the Londonderry Arms is about to welcome its first new owners in over 75 years.

The historic hotel has been owned and managed by the O’Neill family since 1947, and with the retirement of Denise O’Neill it is now passing into the hands of a consortium headed by hotelier Adrian McLaughlin, master Irish whiskey distiller Darryl McNally and business entrepreneur Carl Harrison.

The new owners are keen to emphasise that they are bringing continuity rather than change. As Adrian McLaughlin says:

“This is a hotel with an exceptional history, one that will forever be synonymous with the O’Neill family. We understand and respect that. What’s more, Denise and her team have set incredibly high professional standards of quality and service in comfort, food – and of course, Irish whiskey. Maintaining those standards will be our prime consideration.”

The Londonderry Arms began life as a coaching inn, built in 1848 by Frances Ann Vane Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry. The estate subsequently passed down through generations and at one point was inherited by Winston Churchill. His framed deeds of ownership are still on display in the hotel – along with local artworks, antique furniture plus of course many original restored Georgian features.

Following their purchase of the Londonderry Arms, Frank and Moira O’Neill were careful to preserve its heritage, building up the reputation of the hotel until they in turn passed it on to their late son, Frankie, who undertook a significant development programme.

Latterly Frankie’s wife Denise continued to enhance the hotel, attracting both local and international visitors keen to experience its special charm, distinct elegance and unique hospitality.

Over the last seven decades the Londonderry Arms has served the community of Carnlough and communities the length of the Antrim coast. Denise O’Neill acknowledges how critical this has been to the hotel’s success.

“It was symbiotic really. The hotel benefited the small local economy of this beautiful coastline, but without its people, those who worked in the hotel and those who visited as guests, it would not have been the success it has been over so many years.

“As our family exits the business, we want to pay tribute to all of those people for their loyalty to the Londonderry Arms. It has been and will always be greatly appreciated.”

For the O’Neill family, the Londonderry Arms is more than a hotel.

“We’ve always felt a responsibility to the building and its history – that we were as much stewards as owners, privileged to care for it until it was time to pass it on,” adds Denise O’Neill.

“We’re delighted that Adrian and the team fully understand that. They bring the experience, expertise and commitment that means the Londonderry Arms will continue to define luxury and comfort in this most beautiful part of the world for many more years to come.”

“We have a very busy summer ahead,” adds Adrian McLaughlin. “We look forward to taking the baton from Denise now, and we wish her all the very best in her retirement.”


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