Author Archives: Maria Gillen

Richard McArthur Burke (2)

Clonmel, the Bank and the Masonic Order

With a good education as Richard had received, he went on to train as a bank clerk. He got a job in the Bank of Ireland’s Clonmel branch, where he worked for five years. Richard lived at an address at Queen St. in the town, and appeared to have settled in there quite well. He was popular, and seemed to have had a lot of friends, which would have made him quite like Emily in character. He was also active in the local church, this is probably due to his upbringing as a son of a clergyman.

Dublin Lodge

Dublin Lodge

In 1887, at the age of 21 Richard McArthur Burke joined the Freemasons, of Lodge 44, Clonmel. It would have been a natural progression for him, again being a clergyman’s son and maybe it had to do with the influence of his father’s friend Samuel George Potter, most importantly his grandfather Richard McArthur was a Freemason. Records show that Richard McArthur was a member of the then Dublin Lodge 620 from about 1810 up into the 1820’s when he lived in Dublin.

The Minute Book of that branch from January 4th 1887 contains the following;

A ballot has been taken for Mr Richard McArthur Burke being of sound and clear of being, in attendance he was received and initiated by brother Charles Hernell. Lodge having been called to 2nd FC degree and Raised to the 3rd degree.
To read more about the Masonic Order:

Richard, Received his full certificate three months later on March 3 rd March 1887.
He was a dedicated member attending most lodge meetings in the year he was a Free Mason. The last record of his attendance at Lodge 44, Clonmel was on 3rd April 1888. He took ill shortly afterwards. On the 26th June of that year Richard, Emily’s big brother died, he was 23 years old. Another tragedy in the young lives of Emily and her siblings.

Minute Book of Lodge 620 First Volunteers of Ireland
Minute Book of Lodge 620 1823 to 1857.
Minute Book of Lodge 44. 3rd July 1888. Reproduced by kind permission of Freemasons, Dublin.
Thanks to Rebecca Hayes, Archivist and the Freemason’s Dublin for their kind permission to publish photos.
Clonmel Chronical, Tipperary and Waterford advertiser. Saturday Evening, June 30 1888. Page 3

Miriam Sophia Burke 2

Head of Family

Richard McArthur Burke died in June 1888 at the age of 23. Miriam Sophia was two years older, and at the age of 25 she became head of the Burke family. In those days if the parents were deceased the position went to the oldest male, provided he was over twenty-one.  Emily and John Jasper were both  minors, it was to Miriam that the Clonmel Freemasons wrote regretting their brother’s death.

The poignant entry to the Minute Book of Lodge 44 for 3rd July 1888 reads:

That with the deep regret we hereby record our heartfelt sorrow for the death on 26th who of Bro. Richard McArthur Burke, one of the officers of out lodge, who by his kind and gentle manner had won our love and esteem, but whom it pleased T. G. A. O. T. V. to remove from amongst us in the early dawn of his manhood.

we also beg to tender to his sister and other members of his family the assurance of our sincere sympathy and condolences in this their sad hour of grief and bereavement.

The foregoing resolution was signed in large by the [W all] secretary and the latter was requested to send it to Miss Burke.

Grand Lodge, Dublin

Grand Lodge, Dublin

 Minute Book of Lodge 44. 3rd July 1888. Reproduced by kind permission of Freemasons, Dublin.
Thanks to Rebecca Hayes, Archivist.

Richard McArthur Burke Part 1

Richard McArthur Burke was born in Windsor Place, Edenderry on 6 May 1865, the first son of Rev William John Burke and his wife Emily. He was named after his maternal grandfather Richard McArthur, keeping the McArthur name alive for another generation. A cruel twist of fate, just like the man he was named after, Richard did not have a long life.

A ruin of an old school in Edenderry , that Emily's brothers may have attended

A ruin of an old school in Edenderry , that Emily’s brothers may have attended

As little can be told of the young Burke’s early childhood it can only be guessed at that they may have attended a local primary school before being sent off to complete their education at about ten. Richard and their youngest brother John Jasper would have being sent to an Irish Clergy Son’s School. There was a number of them around the country at the time, chances are they may have attended the one in Lucan, Dublin, as it took in sons of the clergy with limited means, such as their father.

Richard’s old school still stands and is better known as the Lucan Spa Inn. Read more about it’s colourful history:



Miriam Sophia Burke 3


In 1888 Miriam Burke departed for Australia. She travelled unassisted, meaning that she paid her own fare, and was not claimed out by relatives or any organisation. Miriam may have qualified as governess or school teacher and immigrated to Australia to work in those professions.


Richard Maynard Burke was six months dead when Miriam boarded the S.S. Salier in November 1888. Now only Emily and her youngest brother John Jasper remained. John Jasper would join Miriam in the near future leaving Emily alone in Ireland.

On December 22, a few days before Christmas Miriam disembarked at Adelaide in the State of Victoria. The passenger list contained the following record:

First Name: M S
Last Name: Burke
Age: 25
Est. Birth Year: 1863
Month Of Arrival: Dec
Year: 1888
Ship Name: Salier
State: Victoria

Thankfully it was overall a pleasant voyage for Miss Burke, who appeared to be traveling alone, according to the Captain’s log; Due provision was made   for the comfort and well-being of the passengers, and  as the weather generally was fine, and in the tropical   latitudes endurable, the voyage altogether was of a pleasant character. Captain Thalenhorst and his  officers, and the purser (Mr. H. Ahiers), were considerate in all that concerned the welfare of the people on board.

The Australia of the 1880’s was a far cry from what it is today, a relatively rich land, a tropical climate and good employment opportunities, a far cry from what Miriam would have found on arrival. The cities may have been modern for the time but the outback would have been harsh and tough on an Irish constitution better adapted to cool more temperate weather. Somehow she adapted well and lived out her days there till she died in 1941 at the age of 78.

Category: Immigration & Travel  Record collection: Passenger lists  Collections from: Australia & New Zealand Retrieved 26/04/2014
“THE S.S. SALIER.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 24 Dec 1888: 7. Web. 29 Oct2013 <>.retrieved 26/04/2014

Miriam Sophia Burke



Little girls born around the time of Emily and Miriam

Little girls born around the time of Emily and Miriam

Burke- June 14, at 54, Blessington-street, in this city, the wife of Rev. Wm. John Burke, Incumbent of Castlejordan, diocese of Meath, of a daughter.

16 June 1863 – Dublin Evening Mail – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. P 1
Miriam Sophia Burke was the first born of Rev and Mrs Burke. Born in 1863 she was Emily’s only sister and four years her senior. Being the only girls the sisters may have been close as children, as it turned out the burke sisters were they only two to survive beyond 25 years.

Both girls attended a Clergy Daughter’s School in Dublin. These schools educated young ladies very well, making it possible for them to earn an independent living, this became necessary as their parents died in 1883 when they were 20 and 16 years old. These schools were homes away from home, giving some security to the Burke sisters who found themselves alone in the world at an early age.

16 June 1863 – Dublin Evening Mail – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. P 1
Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Beann Éadair, Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim, 2010.