Beatrice of Carnew Castle - a Life in Letters, 1888-1964

The life story of Beatrice Woodhouse (born Dowse) as told in letters, from 1891, when Beatrice was sent back to Ireland from Canada, to her death in 1964 in Dublin. Compiled and edited by her grand-niece Alana Stephens and published on this website in a series of chapters

CHAPTER NINE: A Move to Newbridge, Co. Kildare, and a Beloved Gone

In November of 1945 Beatrice, Hugh, and aunt Maud Kilbride moved to Moorefield, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. The following letter is from May Dowse to her daughter Kathleen.

 Bea has left Carnew and I suppose nearly settled in their new home in Kildare, so I won’t write until we hear again, not likely today, they will be too busy settling the bungalow, a great change from the roomy Castle, however three people and a maid won’t occupy much room. I wish I could fly, I would be there to look on at least. I think Dad would like to go over if he were younger, where there is something doing, and trees and shrubs to interest one. I hope they will have a nice place, maybe we may hear today.


William Robert Dowse, Dec. 24, 1945 to Beatrice,

My dear Bea,

         Your letter came a day or two ago, and one to Mother today, 10 days on a trip.  You said that Hugh wrote to me. I did not get it yet. Now I wrote to your attorney telling him to cancel that mortgage (letter enclosed). Just burn that mortgage and forget all about it.

I am sure you are glad the Auction is over. I hope you were satisfied with price. 56 acres in the new place. How about land for coop this season, and Buildings for Cattle, have you got them? Did you take any down at Carnew? When you get settled I might slip in some day and see you all. Pretty hard to get day passage, no boats yet, and air too high.

 Wishing you all Happy New Year, and good luck in your new home. Write and tell me all about it.

            With heaps of love and prosperous times ahead

            Your old



The attorney’s letter that W.R. Dowse is referring to is the following:


Collis and Ward


13 Clare Street


November 27, 1944


Mrs. Beatrice Woodhouse


Dear Mr. Dowse,

You may remember that in the year 1927 Mrs. Woodhouse, then Miss Dowse, gave you a mortgage on Carnew Castle and Umrigar for 420 pounds without interest.

            Mrs. Woodhouse now contemplates selling this property and out of the purchase money to repay you the 420.

            For the purpose of releasing your mortgage from the property to the purchaser it is necessary that somebody on your behalf should execute the necessary deed and we accordingly enclose a Power of Attorney in favour of Mr. Wilson[1] of our firm to sign the deed on your behalf, and when we receive the purchase money we will send you the 420.

            You might kindly sign the Power of Attorney opposite the seal where we have penciled your initials, in the presence of a Notary Public, who should duly attest to your signature, and when completed kindly return to us.

Yours faithfully,



Unfortunately the love of Beatrice’s life was not to have many years left in the new surroundings, as Hugh died five years later, in December of 1950

Beatrice’s life at Carnew Castle had come to an end, and her new life at Moorefield began. Unfortunately the love of Beatrice’s life was not to have many years left in the new surroundings, as Hugh died five years later, in December of 1950, leaving Beatrice to fend for herself. She was distraught at the loss of her husband, and consequently a plan was hatched in early 1951 to have Beatrice and Maud move to Canada to live with the Dowse family on The Maples farm. By this time Beatrice’s parents were far too old to give much assistance in the move, so it was decided that Bea’s sister Brownie would come to Ireland to give Beatrice such advice and guidance as she could. It would be the first time the sisters had met since 1891, when Brownie was just one year old. Beatrice felt that she had no one to turn to except her family in Canada. Aunt Maud was concerned about Beatrice and was very relieved to hear that someone from the family would be soon arriving to help shoulder the burden of the difficult decisions to be made.

Maud Kilbride, Feb. 14, 1951 to the Dowse family in Canada:



                                                                                    Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Feb. 14/51

Dearest Ones,

            A line to wish you a very happy 16th, the 65th Anniversary of the “Great Day”[2] This is such a changed place now – no business being done, only 1 man about the place. I wish you William were here & tho’ I know you are fond of Ireland, doubt very much if you would “love her still”. The climate has changed, as well as the people, ‘tis sad to relate, but ‘tis difficult to meet with the old style. On the whole I think you are better off where you are, you would never stand the cold, being accustomed to central heating. It makes me long for that, as I am an extraordinary cold person – never warm unless sitting on top of a hot wood fire. The endless rain has made every place so like a bog! The damp in the walls strikes ice into the bones. I am so [illegible] the last years am nearly bent in two with bad back.

Just got Brownie’s letter & am so glad to hear. If she can come & “boss” all she says it will be delightful, as Bea badly needs some outside advice from her own people. It is so difficult to fit things in & know what is really the best step to take. She could carry on here with a certain amount of work, but she is rather afraid the speed required in the transaction would not be kept up to the necessary requirement, so she thinks it will be easier to give up the idea & the worry & strain would be abandoned. What also was a [illegible] to know about the future if one returned – could she get a spot for the sole of her foot! She is going to write as soon as she can get rid of some of the “moss” she is endeavouring to clear. She is overjoyed to hear there is some definite arrangement that Brownie will be able to tear herself away from Kith & Kin at the Maples & show us there is such a person in the [illegible]. 

 Well once more hearty congrats & may you both see yourselves into the next decade. Brownie says she thinks I am frisky! Alas those days are over – however we’ll have to Celebrate when she comes & then we’ll all be frisky! Hard frost every night still – no Spring for 2 months at least! unless she brings the heat with her. We have plenty of birds singing now – it cheers us up.

            Fondest love, keep smiling & don’t get SICK.

Your loving Irish

                        (Aunty) Maud Kilbride



As Beatrice prepares the place to receive her sister she warns Brownie of what to expect in Ireland and tells her what items will be necessary to bring with her.


Feb. 26th, 1951                                                Moorefield, Newbridge

Co. Kildare

My dearest Brownie,

            Your letter to Aunt Maud received this morning contains grand news. I’m delighted beyond words. Could you say what day you expect to arrive. Is it at Shannon I want to know.

            Be sure to bring warm clothes – you will find it bitter as h__l today, penetrating cold, & above all bring a waterproof & gum boots!! You will live in them. I’m without them only when in bed! Now for food! Tea. When we want a nice cup of tea we use yours, but are careful not to use too often or it won’t last long enough (tea is very poor), some of these noodle soups,(we have been living on those you sent) & if you have any home made butter a [illegible] or two, as you might not like creamery butter – all mine is gone till the next cow calves in June! Maud says tell her to bring me a bottle or tin of strawberries – her pet fruit! Don’t bother about anything else, all we want is yourself. Oh yes I forgot, do bring some sunshine & blue skies – I’m frozen this minute & it’s pouring rain. Yesterday was a lovely day, but today!!! That’s the worst of this climate, we never know what to expect next.

Another family of sows expected tomorrow so you will see some baby pigs. Foods are soaring in price every day. It would not be possible now to make them pay, lucky if I get some of the money back. Sent 6 to a fair last week & John[3] literally gave them away. Wicklow is best to have pigs in.

 Do you realize we will not know each other by sight? Wear one of those fur coat sprays then we will spot you quickly! & I will have one too.

Oh! if only Hugh was here, nobody could have the smallest idea of what it means to me to be without him, I depended on him so much & I am told now that he always said the same of me. To see me daily perhaps you might think I did not feel it as much, but there is something gone inside me that will never be there again & the want is greater every day – your coming is the one bright spot.

 I have several letters to get done this evening so must get a move on. Just think – it won’t be long till we meet after how many years – better not count them up!

            Lots of love to all from us both




[1] R. Morton Wilson, son of Robert Dowse Wilson, and Beatrice’s cousin

[2] William & May Dowse’s 65th wedding anniversary

[3] A hired man

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