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British aristocrat drops in for tea 07.09.12

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 Graham.
Association secretary, 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 North.
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.
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