Local History by Seán Beattie


James Bond’s Clonmany Connections

Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond and owner of the Rolex in the film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’

On Saturday 13 October 2012, I will give a talk at the Macklin Festival in Culdaff at one o’clock on Rev. Edward Chichester who was born in Clonmany; his father is buried in Straid graveyard and the site of the rectory at Dresden is still visible although the building has disappeared. Rev. Chichester became rector of Culdaff and Cloncha and his residence at Redford is a few hundred yards from where I now live. 

The O’Neills of Shane’s Castle, Co. Antrim are descended from the Chichesters and the present Lord O’Neill and his sister Fionn are well-known members of the family. Fionn lives in London and is married to Sir John Morgan. Her stepfather was Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, who this year celebrates his fiftieth birthday on screen. Ian Fleming has passed on but one of Fionn’s  prize possessions is a watch which was owned by Fleming. The watch is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. In the film On Her Majesty’s Service, Bond is wearing this watch. It has been displayed regularly at exhibitions of Bond memorabilia. Who would have thought that a descendent of one of the rectors of Clonmany and Culdaff would have this very tangible link with one of the great icons of modern cinema?

While on this subject I wish to refute any suggestions that James Bond came from Buncrana. True, there was an inventive and dynamic stationmaster who lived at Fahan and bore this name. Like his name sake, Fahan’s James Bond  took an interest in the mechanical arts and built a wind mill which provided Fahan station with its own supply of electricity. Sadly, Ian Fleming never knew of his existence; the name James Bond which Fleming used in his fiction was in fact the author of a book on bird life in India. 

Interest in the Chichester connection is strong in this region. This week-end Catherine McWilliams delivered a lecture in Clonmany on the family and their life at Straid. She introduced Fionn O’Neill to her Clonmany connections some years ago when they both visited Straid. The new Chichester-Bond link is indeed a timely one, of which the O’Neills and their family members can be proud  as the world media gears up for a massive Bond party.  

As Bond movie junkies around the world get set for the 50th celebrations, Bond followers in Inishowen can take some consolation from their very tangible connections with world cinema. 

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