Rev Burke Widowed
The threat of violence was a factor that loomed constantly in the life of Rev Burke and extended to his family. Such an incident that happened in Tuam, Co Galway in 1856 caused Mrs Burke an injury that never healed. In fact it lead directly to her death two years later. A stone thrown at the Revered Burke had missed him and hit his wife instead. The injury caused her much pain and could not be cured.
When Mr. Burke left this place with his family he removed, after some time, to Tuam, and subsequently to Clifden, and it is believed that the persecution which Mrs. Burke, in common with her husband endured in these places laid the seeds of a mortal disease in a naturally strong constitution.
Her obituary was in the Achill Missionary Herald of August 17 1858.
On the 17th ult., Mrs Burke, wife of the Rev. William Burke, entered into rest at the Parsonage Castelkerke.
The write up talked of her popularity in the mission and her kindness to all. What was particularly poignant was a the mention of her children:
…Some time after, on of her sons, in an adjoining room, played on a violin an old Irish air, which she set the sixth Irish hymn. After a while she said “I will soon, my darling hear more delightful music than that; it will be heavenly music and I will join in it.
Mrs Burke gave instructions for her funeral and requested a low key and no money should be wasted on extravagances, which was customary for the time. She requested to be buried in Oughterard graveyard.
Rev was now a widow with seven stepchildren, although most of them were grown up by now. The couple had one child together, William Junior, who played the music to his dying mother, and was only a young boy when she passed away. This early trauma along with other hardship he had suffered, being the son of a convert priest may have played a part in the great difficulties he suffered later on in life.
Rev Burke went to live in Dublin for a while, taking young William with him. He stayed at an address in Harrington Street, near the South Circular Road. The boy was sent to school at the prestigious school Hollyville in Monkstown.