Rev William J Burke the Missionary

Rev Burke was an excellent speaker and a fearless missionary. In the early days of his vocation he used to rise sometimes as early as four in the morning and travel the land preaching to farmers in the field. As his preaching skills became more renowned he was invited to England to give lectures, often to packed halls. In some of his talks he would tell of his experiences and conquests as a missionary in a lecture in Dunkinfield, Manchester:

The lecturer gave a narrative of his own life, how he was brought up a Papist and then converted to Protestantism. Since then he had laboured hard as a missionary of the gospel. and had visited every Irish mission station but two, often traveling as much as 600 mile a moth, the greater part on foot and sometimes having to go up to the armpits in fording streams and crossing bogs. He calculated from a careful personal inquiry which he began in 1842, that fro that year to 1862, no fewer than 30,00 Romanist in Ireland had been converted to Protestantism.

His work for the missions extended to writing to the papers too. He did not hold back and did not mind shaming the church he broke away from. From the letter to  The Record, 20 February 1851, when he lived at Ballycroy (an Irish Society mission station in Co Mayo, north of Mulranny). Despite the subject matter  his eloquence is evident:

The Ashton Weekly Reporter, and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle 13 June 1868
The Reporter, 13 June 1868
 The Record, 20 February 1851
Special thanks to Miriam Moffett, author of Soupers & Jumpers: the Protestant Missions in Connemara, 1848-1937, who shared her knowledge and expertise with me