Emily’s Childhood and life with Rev. Burke

Emily Weddall spent about five years in all in Edenderry. Most of that time was spent without the presence of her father, as he spent most of his time away from home on missionary work. On a meager income and with a growing family to provide for it was necessary for him to earn extra income lecturing in the UK. In a later lecture he admits that he and his family were starving on the £92 a year salary.


The Rev. W. J. Burke, formerly Parish Priest and Vicar-General in the Church of Rome, but for the last 23 years a Clergyman of the United Church of England and Ireland, will deliver in connection with the above Association, the following LECTURES in the Large Room, Temperance Hall on THURSDAY and FRIDAY Evenings, March 26 and 27, 1868.

Thursday Evening:- Subject: “The Disloyal Teaching and Practices of Maynooth, and the Confessional.”

Friday Evening:- Subject: “How Romish Priests and Bishops, if so minded, could as easily put down Fenianism as they created it.”

The above subjects were pretty weighty and caused a huge backlash against him, but they also paid well and sometimes there was a collection afterwards for Rev Burke. His talks used to fill lecture halls all over the UK, but it was not just the subject matter that drew the audiences Rev. Burke was an excellent orator. Since the early days of his conversion he gave impassioned speeches of the “Errors of Popery” and was instrumental in the conversion of many Catholics to Protestantism. He was also a determined letter writer expressing his opinion of religion freely. His strong views did not make life easy for him and his family, inviting backlashes and even violence against them.

Newspaper clipping for blog wjb

Emily’s formative years were not easy by any standard. From an early age she witnessed hatred, violence and persecution firsthand. As she grew it did not get any easier, but she also saw determination, resilience and courage in her father. Perhaps this is where she first learned these traits herself. As she grew life did not improve greatly for her in some incidences things got much worse before they got better.

Leicester Journal March 20, 1868. Page 5
06 December 1870 – Sheffield Independent – Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England