The Clergy Daughter’s schools were charitably funded making it possible for Miriam and Emily to attend. There they would have received a top education for the time, in some ways on a par with today’s standards. In a letter to the newspaper in 1860’s the committee of the school made an appeal to the public to support the school. They bandied around the terms Christian sympathy and public benevolence to appeal to peoples better nature encouraging donations. They put forward the fact that some of the girls attending had lost at least one if not both parents, such was the case of Emily and her sister.
Both the Rev Burke and his wife died in 1883, leaving their four children without a guardian or much financial means. The charitable organisation of the Clergy Daughter’s School would have offered the girls an education now that they were alone in the world and had to provide for themselves in those times. The boys would have attended the male equivalent.
The annual report of 1883 of the Clergy Daughter’s School, the time Emily and her sister Miriam where pupils there stated:
10 pupils were admitted, three of which were orphans. In the course of the past year eight pupils left the school, and eight were elected to fill their places. One of those at present on the books thirty one in number or has neither father nor mother; three have lost their mothers, and four have experienced the heavier affliction of being deprived of their fathers, having lost withe them their chief means of support. In no case except two at present in the school, does the proportion of income to each member of the family reach £30 per annum.
It might be interesting to mention, as evidence of the utility of the Irish Clergy Daughters’ School, that many of those who have received their education within its walls have subsequently supported themselves by teaching others. From a tabular statement, recently drawn up, it appears that, within the last fourteen or fifteen years, eleven obtained appointments as governesses in various families, and five others performed the important duties of the same office towards their younger brothers and sisters, on their return home.
The Burke children received a great education at these schools, enabling them all to lay down the foundations for a self-sufficient life. Richard trained as a bank clerk, and secured a position The Bank of Ireland in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Her other brother John Jasper emigrated to Australia as did her sister Miriam. Emily’s education at the Clergy Daughters’ School would certainly have laid down the foundation for her nursing career.