British aristocrat drops in for
BRITISH aristocrat, the
12th Earl of Shaftesbury, surprised an Inishowen
village this week when he dropped in for a chat and
a cup of tea.
Nicholas Ashley-Cooper (32), who inherited his title
in tragic circumstances, visited Gleneely this week
to discuss plans for a tourism project on land
belonging to him on a nearby mountain.
Gleneely Development Association want to mark the
spot where a WWII Spitfire was dug from the bog by
archaeologists last summer. Their plans include a
10-space car park, summer seats and a plaque
commemorating the extraordinary story of the fighter
plane and its US pilot Roland 'Bud' Wolfe, who
survived the crash.
The group hopes Donegal County Council can build and
take responsibility for the amenity once permission
is granted by the landlord.
The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury,
Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, with members of Gleneely
Development Association, from left, Brigid Miller,
Joe Kearney, Janet Khron, Marie Wallace and Elaine
Brigid Miller, said the committee was surprised when
– after trying for months without success to contact
him - the young earl made prompt plans to visit. He
drove to Gleneely near Carndonagh on the Inishowen
peninsula on Tuesday after conducting business in
the North where he also owns a large property
portfolio including Lough Neagh.
"He was very interested in the story of the Spitfire
and our plans for the site," she said.
She acknowledged that many would be surprised to
learn that large tracts of Inishowencountryside
still belong to an absentee landlord. She said much
of the land is located on hills and mountains where
local farmers continue to exercise long-held
turberry and grazing rights.
Brigid said the group were pleasantly surprised at
how amiable the young aristocrat was. "There were no
airs and graces about him. He was a very nice,
ordinary fella,” she added.
The group eventually made contact with Mr
Ashley-Cooper after his ownership of Lough Neagh was
in the news earlier this year. Brigid then traced
him through political channels and his solicitor in
The 12th Earl inherited the title seven years ago
after the death of his older brother Anthony, who
suffered a heart attack in New York aged 27. He had
been earl for only six weeks after their flamboyant
father, the 10th earl, was murdered on the French
Riviera in 2004. The 10th earl’s third wife and her
brother, were jailed for his murder in 2007. The
tragedies perpetuated the long-held notion of a
'Curse of the Shaftesburys'.
The family seat is the Shaftesbury Estate set in
9,000-acres at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset.
The 12th Earl, a former DJ and music promoter, is
married with two children. He has assured the Co
Donegal group that he envisages no obstacle to their
project, once formalities are concluded.