Moira O’Neill 1864 – 1955

19 October 2019

Moira O’Neill was a poet and novelist who came to live at Rockport Lodge, Cushendun, when she was a little girl. Born Agnes ‘Nesta’ Shakespeare Higginson in Mauritius in 1864, she was a resident of the village between about 1874 and 1896.

During her literary career, she wrote two books of poems, three novels and many essays and reviews.
Published in 1900, her poetry collection Songs of the Glens of Antrim featured works that reflected the lives of the people who lived around Cushendun.

It was a huge success in Britain and the United States and made Moira O’Neill one of the most famous poets in the world.
After marrying Walter Clarmont Skrine here in Cushendun in 1896, Moira O’Neill lived on a ranch in Canada for a few years before returning to Ireland to raise her family in County Wexford. One of her five children would grow up to be novelist Molly Keane.

Moria O’Neill was married in Cushendun Old Church and 19 October 2019 saw the unveiling of an Ulster History Circle ‘Blue Plaque’ dedicated to Moira O’Neill.

Cushendun Building Preservation Trust is grateful to the members of Moira O’Neill’s family who made the trip to Cushendun for this occasion. We are also grateful to the Ulster History Circle and the Honourable Irish Society for their support in bringing this plaque to the Old Church Centre.