Emily’s father Rev Burke, courted quite a bit of controversy and was no stranger to standing in the dock. In the decade he lived Edenderry he appeared in courthouse at least five times, both as a complainant and defendant at the Petty Sessions. Although none of the cases were seeped in serious issue, they spoke volumes where he stood with the local population.
The Petty Sessions handled the bulk of lesser legal cases, both criminal and civil. They were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. The position did not have a wage, so the role was usually taken by those with their own income – in practice usually prominent landowners or gentlemen. Justice was pronounced summarily at these courts, in other words, without a jury.
The cases dated between 1864 and 1868 ranged from unpaid bills to the local blacksmith to allowing his cattle to roam freely on the public road, to an unpaid dog license. The most serious complaint and probably the most perplexing for him and his family was in 1866, when he took action against Patrick Dempsey, also of Edenderry, for throwing a stone with the intention of causing Rev. Burke bodily harm. The Judges, E. J. Boss Esq., T. R. Murray, and J. H. Rogers dismissed the case. It could have been difficult to prove, they sided with Dempsey or they distrusted Emily’s father.
Sadly the violent persecution that dogged his life in the West of Ireland followed him to Edenderry. This was not an isolated incident as the violence continued for his duration there.