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Beatrice E. Gubbins, Continental Street Scene, 1907. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Beatrice E. Gubbins (1878-1944) was a painter who worked predominantly in watercolour and travelled widely in Europe.

Born in County Limerick to Frances Gertude Russell and distiller Thomas Wise Gubbins, she was raised – and lived most of her life – at Dunkettle House in Cork. After her father’s death in 1904, she completed much of the interior decoration of this large home overlooking Lough Mahon. She and her four sisters were congenitally deaf but, in 1912-13, Beatrice underwent treatment in London which improved her hearing ability. Her two brothers appear not to have been affected.

Although records from the time are incomplete, Beatrice may have attended what was then known as the Crawford Municipal School of Art. At the outbreak of the First World War, however, she trained to be a nurse and tended the war wounded at Tivoli hospital in Cork. In December 1916, she transferred to the No.1 Hospital, Exeter and remained there until January 1919.

A few months before her service came to an end, she wrote in her diary: ‘Armistice signed by Germany. Such joy & decorations in Exeter. One can hardly believe this awful war is at an end’ (11 November 1918). Back in Cork, she nursed her mother until her death in 1927.

Many of Beatrice’s paintings reflect her homeplace and numerous travels, with subjects ranging from landscape scenes near Dunkettle to views captured in England, France (including Barbizon), Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the West Indies. This painting – Continental Street Scene (1907) – derives from her European travels, most likely her visit to Spain in 1906. She also kept journals of her travels.

Beatrice exhibited with the Royal Hibernian Academy, Belfast Art Society, Watercolour Society of Ireland, and was honorary secretary of Queenstown Sketching Club. In 1986, a retrospective of her work was held at Crawford Art Gallery and, in 1998, at Lismore Art Centre.

Video © Amanda Coogan, 2023.

Associated event: ODE TO JOY: Amanda Coogan, Dublin Theatre of the Deaf and Cork Deaf Community Choir. Click here to view.

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