The Collection at Newry and Mourne Museum contains two fascinating watercolour sketchbooks dating from 1886 – 1887. Bound in marbled boards, they are typical of sketchbooks compiled by Victorian amateur artists and contain landscapes, woodland scenes and botanical works. These particular sketchbooks are the work of Allen Edmond Douglas (1835 – 1894), a medical doctor who lived and practiced in Warrenpoint. Although the subject of many of the watercolours have not been identified by the artist, they appear to be have been painted in the Warrenpoint, Rostrevor and Cooley areas. Five watercolours from the sketchbooks illustrate this article. 

The son of Captain Edmund Douglas, Allen Douglas was born in Clones, county Monaghan in March 1835. He qualified in medicine in Edinburgh and also took a medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. He seems to have begun his medical career as the dispensary doctor at Glasslough, county Monaghan, in 1862. Around 1867, Douglas married Anne Teresa Collins in Glasslough, and they had their first child (Anne Amelia) there c.1868. By 1869, they were living in Warrenpoint, county Down and had their second child, Mary Emily, in October 1869.   

Allen Douglas may have moved to Warrenpoint to become the medical dispensary doctors for Warrenpiont and Mayobridge as he was occupying these posts by 1870. The Warrenpoint dispensary was in Church Street and Douglas also became the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the town. At this time, he was living with his wife and two daughters in Albert Terrace, Seaview, but by the 1886, when the sketchbooks were compiled, he had moved to ‘Coolbawn’, now part of the Whistledown Hotel.  

Apart from his medical profession, Allen Douglas was a local magistrate, Chairman of the Gas Company and, from 1892 until he died in 1894, Chairman of the Warrenpoint Town Commissioners. He was an active member of Warrenpoint Presbyterian Church and was also a Freemason. Douglas played an influential role in the life of Warrenpoint, keen to see it developed as a tourist resort.  

Allen Douglas’ main hobbies seems to have been watercolour painting, history and music. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and spent his spare time on painting expeditions in the Warrenpoint, Rostrevor and Cooley areas. In his will, he bequeathed to his eldest daughter, Anne Amelia, ‘my album of watercolour sketches . . . any violins that I may have.’  To his younger daughter, Mary Emily, he bequeathed ‘All Ruskin’s works, all my sketching & painting materials and all my pictures etc including engravings & sketches not hung up.’  It may be that, like her father, Mary Emily was an amateur artist and shared her father’s intellectual interests typified by the works of John Ruskin. 

Allen Douglas died on 25th April 1894. He seems to have developed pneumonia out of a chill which he caught after attending the dispensary at Mayobridge about a fortnight before his death and then visiting a patient near Hilltown on the same evening.  


Rostrevor and the mountains behind the village painted from the southern shore of Carlingford Lough. 

Newry and Mourne Museum Collection