Prolific painter and former lady mayoress of Belfast

Coralie Kinahan: September 16th, 1924 - July 31st, 2015


Lady Coralie Kinahan, who has died aged 90, was a leading Northern artist who painted for three-quarters of a century, from childhood to her 80s.

Her talents were many. She had also been lady mayoress of Belfast and served as president of the Red Cross in the North. She wrote two novels and a family memoir.

She had non-stop energy, going on a round-the-world cruise aged 80. From it she produced a batch of paintings. When attending select vestry meetings of her parish, she would knit or work at tapestry.

Her entrance to the world was characteristic. She was born on the dining room table of the then family home in Bletchingley, Surrey, lit by car headlamps rigged up by her father.

She was the younger of two daughters of Capt Charles de Burgh, a Royal Navy officer and descendant of the mediaeval earls of Ulster, and his wife, Isabel (née Campbell), daughter of a Co Tyrone rector. She was always conscious of her De Burgh heritage.

Her father’s naval postings meant she was educated at schools in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, Dumfriesshire in Scotland, Durham and Newcastle. She studied art, first with an illustrator and then at London’s Chelsea School of Art. She saw service in the Women’s Royal Naval Service towards the end of the second World War.

Royal Academy

Her artistic career began spectacularly. At 20 her first full-length portrait was hung in a prominent position at London’s Royal Academy.

Four years later she won a bronze medal at the 1948 Olympic Exhibition. Over one 20-year period she staged an exhibition every year. In all, she produced approximately 2,000 paintings.

The family home of Castle Upton in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, was a shell when purchased. She restored it, making it an outstanding family home and garden. She made many of her own clothes. She was also an excellent cook who often tried out new dishes on guests – preferably politicians or soldiers. She was a fine singer and an enthusiastic horsewoman.

Her late husband, Sir Robin Kinahan, was lord mayor of Belfast from 1959 to 1961, and she was lady mayoress. Afterwards he became a Unionist MP. For Lady Kinahan, her Britishness never diminished her Irishness.

She is survived by her daughters Lulu and Vivi, her sons Danny and Harry, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, her daughter Emma and her sister Lydia.