Miranda Guinness dies after long illness

Fri, Dec 31, 2010, 00:00

THE DEATH has taken place of Miranda Guinness, Countess of Iveagh, at the age of 70.

A short statement from the Iveagh family said she died peacefully yesterday at her home in Wiltshire, England, after a long illness.

She married Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness, the third Earl of Iveagh, in 1963. The couple subsequently divorced.

He was chairman of Guinness from 1965 to 1995.

In 1976, he had a beer tanker, purpose-built to carry Guinness from the Dublin docks to England, named The Miranda Guinness, in her honour.

In 1979, she was chosen as one of the world’s best-dressed women.

She particularly favoured the clothes of Irish designers.

In 1996, she bought Wilburry, a mansion in Wiltshire. Having spent six years renovating Wilburry before moving in, she was awarded a building conservation award by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors for her work in restoring it.

In July this year, she made headlines when she sold her 1981 red De Lorean DMC12 coupé car.

Prior to its sale, she had said: “I love this car. I have many happy memories of driving my sons to school in it. They weren’t so positive about it since I had a knack of knocking myself out on the gull-wing door.”

Despite pre-sale estimates of up to £20,000, the car, auctioned by Bonhams as part of the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July this year, achieved € 16,100 at auction.

In August this year, members of the Guinness family held a party in Dublin in celebration of her 70th birthday.

With the old family townhouse, Iveagh House on St Stephens Green, now occupied by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the event took place at the Guinness Storehouse at St James’s Gate.

Speaking on that occasion, she said: “If you behave as if you’re 70, you’re done for.”

Among those who attended the celebration to honour her were Lord Henry Mountcharles from Slane; Anna Harvey, editorial director of Vogue in London; former minister Des O’Malley and his wife, Pat; Seán Rafferty of BBC Radio 3; and Kathleen Watkins and Gay Byrne, whose father had worked at the Guinness brewery at St James’s Gate.

Addressing assembled well-wishers on the night, she said: “I have to admit, it’s been a privilege to be part of this family. I’m very much at home in Dublin.”

Paying tribute to her last night, Lord Mountcharles said: “She was a wonderful lady. When she walked into a room, she lit it up. She loved Ireland very much.”

She is survived by her sons Edward and Rory, daughters Emma and Louisa, and nine grandchildren.