Development & Alumni Relations Office 


Dorothy Dunlop, BA (died 16 October 2021, aged 92)


Obituary provided by Dorothy’s son, Hugh 


Dorothy Dunlop was born in Dublin in 1929, but her family moved to Belfast when she was just four, after her father, Gilbert Waterhouse, accepted the position of Professor of German at Queen's.   


For Dorothy’s grandmother, Lady Margaret Woods, the move to Belfast was a return to a place of fond memories. Margaret Woods was born Margaret Shaw, Daughter of Judge James Johnston Shaw, who was chairman of the commission appointed to award the University its Royal Charter in 1908. Judge Shaw was Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s from 1909 until his death in 1910. There is a portrait of Dorothy’s grandfather hanging in the entrance to the Great Hall. He and his family are buried at Greyabbey.  


Dorothy attended junior school at Richmond Lodge and, after German bombs fell on Belfast, she joined her older sister at Howell’s school for girls in Denbigh, North Wales, on the dubious grounds that she would be as safe there as anywhere, notwithstanding the perils of crossing the Irish Sea and passing through Liverpool.


She was asked: “What did you do on VE Day?”  “Oh”, she said, “to celebrate, we were permitted to cycle into town to buy as much cake as we wanted.”


Her sisters went to Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin, but Dorothy chose to stay in Belfast and study at Queen’s. She embarked on a BSc but was able to switch to English to complete a BA. She clearly enjoyed science and English and taught them both later in life.


After graduating, she went to London and worked for a period at the Arts Council, before returning to Belfast to work for the BBC.  Her time with the BBC was a highlight, as she travelled the length and breadth of the province with tape recorder and typewriter to interview people from all walks of life. It was a valuable apprenticeship for a career in politics.    


She met her husband, Samuel Dunlop, through a mutual friend at Queen’s, John Colhoun, who was a Reader of Botany. John Colhoun married Dorothy’s oldest sister, Margaret, and later accepted a chair at The University of Manchester. 


While raising four children, Dorothy’s teaching career took her to Orangefield School, Brackenber House and later Crumlin Road Gaol, where she taught English Literature.  She said “I wasn’t allowed to teach the prisoners chemistry”.   




Dorothy was elected to the Belfast City Council in 1975, and in 1978 she was elected by her fellow councillors to the office of Deputy Lord Mayor. In total she served as a councillor for 18 years. She also served on the newly formed Northern Ireland Assembly from 1982 to 1986, representing East Belfast. During the brief period of that Assembly she served as chair of the Health and Social Services Committee.   


She left the Ulster Unionist Party at the time of the protests at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which she said were “bad for Belfast”.  She briefly (and bravely) ran as an independent candidate for Westminster, and later joined the Conservative Party. She served as regional chairman for the Conservative Women's Association, travelling to Party Headquarters in Westminster for meetings even into her late ‘80s.




Dorothy maintained close association with her university and served as Vice President and then President, in 2002, of the Queen’s Women’s’ Graduates’ Association. Meanwhile, husband Sam served on the Senate, was President of the Queen’s University Association and Chairman of Convocation.




Dorothy inherited voluminous correspondence and first-hand accounts from her parents and uncles of the momentous events of war in France and of the 1916 Easter rising in Dublin and, at the age of 86, with the centenary approaching, published these in a book which she entitled 1916 and Beyond the Pale.   


The book includes correspondence between Dorothy’s mother, Molly Woods and Molly’s brother and uncles in France. In particular, there is a detailed account by Molly of the Easter Rising in the form of a letter to her younger brother in France, and there is a separate account written by Dorothy’s father, Gilbert Waterhouse who was Fellow of German at Trinity at the time and a member of the Officer Training Corps. His actions were pivotal in the defence of Trinity and in preventing Grafton Street from being ransacked.  The book concludes with an account of her father being commissioned into the Royal Navy to serve as an interpreter at the surrender of the German fleet in Kiel. Her parents met after the war. A copy of the book has been donated to Queen’s library.


Dorothy said:  "There are many different accounts of the Easter Rising and they don't all necessarily tally and I can only stand by mine as eyewitness accounts. I've tried to make it a story with a beginning, middle and end, and it was hard to get a happy ending in that story, but my parents met after the war even though they lived only half-a-mile apart during the war."


She gave the book the title 1916 and Beyond The Pale as a reference to the invisible perimeter of Dublin marking the historical boundary between ancient Norman colonisation, which she proudly considered her birthplace, and the wider reaches of Ireland, where she made her home.


She leaves behind four children (one of whom, Miranda Jemphrey, took her degree at Queen’s) and seven grandchildren.


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