Monthly Archives: February 2018

All Sorts of Rumors

After the shooting of his daughter Dr Burke was taken to the Beckett Hospital at Barnsley to treat his gunshot wound which tuned out to be a flesh wound and not life threatening.  It was not taken into account at the time that he was also suffering from shock as well as the effects of alcoholism on his body. If it were modern times he would have been treated for that as well as the bullet wound.

Beckett Hospital Barnsley

Dr. Burke’s wound healed to the satisfaction of the doctors at the Beckett Hospital, but his health was not good. He had developed pleurisy as well as having an underling condition, the result of heavy drinking. It would take some time until he was fit to stand trial.

Sheffield Independent 17 March 1888
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 29 November 1927


William Burke Jr. Goes Back to Dublin

It became apparent that William Burke Jr. was a talented child. He played the violin, was a talented cricket player, he also excelled academically. It was clear from the start that he would have a glittering career whatever he took up, and as predicted he did.

After the tragic loss of his mother, when he was a young boy his father Rev. Burke left the West of Ireland, where he took a position in the church at St. Audoens Church near Christchurch. Rev. Burke lived at Harrington Street near the city centre, William Jr. was sent to school at Hollyville Park in Monkstown. The original school is no longer in existence although St. Patrick’s Boy’s Primary School stands on the site or nearby. It is a place of the past in building and in documentation. Apart from old newspaper articles and a few references in cricket records it has all but disappeared from history.

In its’ time Hollyville Park School was a school was for high achievers, like William Burke Jr.

Hollyville park school, MONKSTOWN, CO. DUBLIN. FRENCH and GERMAN, under Foreigner, are taught free of extra charge ; and, while the usual branches of a first class Education receive their due amount of care, the SACRED SCRIPTURES, ENGLISH, and COMPOSITION…(02 March 1863 – Dublin Daily Express – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

Hollyville park school, MONKSTOWN, CO. DUBLIN. 1. The Prospectus and Half-yearly Report, which contain account of the System of the School,and the success former Pupils, the Masters, Ac., will forwarded on application to the Principal or Vice-Principal…(09 July 1862 – Dublin Daily Express – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

The school offered many subjects that prepared it’s young pupils for a career in the army, church or in medicine. Perhaps it was the school’s education towards joining the church that persuaded Rev. Burke to sending his son there but in the end it was a medical career that William Jr. was attracted to.

His second love was also indulged at Hollyville Park, cricket. If he was not a doctor perhaps if it were possible at the time he may have been a professional cricket player. He was listed as a player on the Monk Bretton cricket team in 1880 and beyond.

Hollyville was in close proximity to the Monkstown Cricket Grounds and had it’s own cricket club attached. In his 1865 book, John Lawrences’s Handbook of Cricket in Ireland. The author observed:

“Hollyville Park School Close to Monkstown Church ‘where every boys seems a matured gentlemen’”

The statement was very true of the young William Henry Emeris Burke.

To View Hollyville Park School in Flicker

Sheffield Independent 09 June 1880


Dr Burke is taken to Hospital

Out of a private room at the Norman Inn, on the 4th February 1888 ran a distraught woman, thinking that her estranged husband was about to shoot her. It was late on a Saturday night and a police officer was nearby ready to enforce the closing time law on local pubs, when the panicking  woman accosted him. Then two shots rang out.

The first bullet hit Aileen Burke in the chest. The little girl died almost immediately. She was eight years old. The second lodged in Dr. Burke’s chest. It caused damage but not death, not what he had intended. The gun lay on the discarded on floor when his wife entered with a police officer only minute or so later. “It missed” was all the doctor said. He did not utter another word but kissed his dead daughter, while the shocked party waited for medical help.

A note lay on the floor too. It was addressed to Mrs. Burke, the named picked it up and put it in her pocket, but thought be better of it or did not want to touch what could be an explanation for the horror that unfolded and handed to the law.

Medical help eventually arrived, nothing could be done for little Aileen. Dr. Burke was taken to the Beckett Hospital at Barnsley.

Morning Post 06 February 1888


The News Breaks

It didn’t take long before the papers picked up on the sad story. The following appeared in the Chichester Observer on 8th February 1888, four days after the event. The story was becoming more widespread making national headlines.

The news had come to Ireland, but only made minor headlines. Emily Weddall who was twenty years old at the time would by now have known about her half brother. No doubt she and her siblings would have been anguished by the death of their niece and notoriety of their brother.

Day by day the story and the back story unfolded in the public eye.


Chichester Observer 08 February 1888

The Early Life of William H E Burke

Early Life

William Henry Emeris Burke was Emily’s eldest brother from her father’s first marriage. His parents Rev Burke and his wife Catherine traveled from Achill, where they had recently taken refuge at the Priest’s Protection Society on the Island to Dublin for Mrs Burke to give birth to what would be their only surviving child. Mrs Burke had a baby the previous year, which did not survive. As she was now older and suffered complications with her last child it was wise to be close to the best medical care that she could get in the capital city. Not only that but the drama that ensued the birth was not worth the risk the second time around.

The Christening font at St. Audoen’s, where William Burke Jr. was Baptised

St Audeons

The couple’s second child was born on 19th October 1845, survived and thrived unlike it’s sibling. a month later he was christened William Henry Emeris Burke in the Church of St. Audeons, where his father Rev. Burke conducted ceremonies from time to time.

Dugort, close to the Achill Mission, where William Burke Jr. spent his early years.

Soon after the birth the couple returned to Achill with their child. Rev. Burke continued his mission work. The Burkes may have stayed on at the Mission in Dugort for another year or so until Rev Burke was transferred to Ballycroy, where he was made curate.

Connemara where there were several Church Missions

Much of William Henry’s formative years were spent on living at the Mission Stations that were spring up and down the West coast particularly in Counties Mayo and Galway. His father Rev. Burke, a convert himself was a great speaker, and was committed to preaching the Gospel to anyone who would listen to him. To his credit he was responsible for the conversion of many form Catholicism to Protestantism. Six of his seven half-siblings converted along with their mother and stepfather and at least one become a church minister too. His brother Rev. H M Kennedy would play a pivotal role in saving his life years later.

Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser 06 November 1845
Cork Constitution 31 May 1888