Thomas N. Burke [Rev.] (1830-83)

Criticism


Life
[Thomas Nicholas Burke; Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke, OP; fam. Fr. Tom Burke;] b. Galway, son of baker; raised by a strict mother who beat him, and ed. by a determined Mr Magrath; Galway Brothers of St. Patrick; school of Rev. Dr. O’Toole, and Michael Winter’s Academy; practised art of rhetoric after Demosthenes, Davis, and Daniel O’Connell; entered Dominic Convent, Denmark St., Dublin;, and proceeded to novitiate at Perugia in the Papal States; wide acquaintance at the Curia;
 
professed in name of Thomas Aquinas, Jan. 1849; studied at Rome from 1850 in Minerva and Santa Sabina; novice master, Woodchester, England, 1851; ord. England, March 1853; fnd. novitiate at Tallaght, 1857; attended Vatican Council as a theologian advising the Bishop of Dromore; opposed the definition of infallibilty as inopportune; friends included Judge Keogh, Cardinal Cullen, , and T. H. Burke; famed as orator; troubled with stomach ailment; prior of San Clemente, Rome, 1864;
 
gave the Lenten sermons at Santa Maria del Popolo, 1865, following Cardinal Wiseman’s death; returned to Ireland, 1867; preached panegyric at re-interment of O’Connell, 1869; theological advisor to Bishop of Dromore at ‘Infallibility’ Vatican Council, 1869; returning to Ireland, 1870; spent some years as Master of Novices for the English Province of the Dominican Order; popular preacher raising 100,000 for Irish charity; toured USA, 1872; lectured on “English Misrule in Ireland”;
 
issued Ireland’s Case Stated in Reply to Mr. Froude (NY 1873) - reprinted in Dublin (1873), rebutting H. A. Froude’s English in Ireland and causing Froude to abandon his American tour; reached Dublin, 7 March 1873; d. Tallaght, 1893; a message of sympathy from Leo XIII was read at his funeral referring to ‘death of this great orator and excellent religious’ as an occasion of mourning for the Universal Church; there is a life by W. J. Fitzpatrick (1885); there is an allusion to his pulpit-prowess in Joyce’s Dubliners story “Grace”. ODNB JMC DIB DIH OCIL

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Works
J. A. Rochfort [ed.,] Lectures and Sermons [2nd ser.] (NY: Excelsior Cath. Publ. House, 1873), and Do. [2nd edn.] (NY: P. F. Collier 1878), incls. ‘The Catholic Church and the Age We Live In’ and ‘Pontificate of Pius IX’; Rev. T. N. Burke, Ireland’s Case Stated in reply to Mr. Froude (NY: Haverty, 1873), 238pp.

Lectures on Faith and Fatherland [by] The Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke, OP (Cameron & Ferguson/Burns & Oates [& ?W], n.d.) [see details].

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Bibliographical details

Lectures on Faith and Fatherland [by] The Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke, OP (Cameron & Ferguson/Burns & Oates [& ?W], n.d.), ded. John McHale. Pref., ‘newspaper reports hastily revised’. Essays topics include ‘St. Patrick, The Christian Man of his Day’; ‘Temperance’; ‘Catholic Charity’; ‘Supernatural Life’, ‘The Absorbing Life of the Irish People’; ‘Catholic Church and Salvation of Society’; ‘Catholic Education’; ‘National Music of Ireland’; ‘Pope’s Tiara’; ‘Exiles of Erin’; ‘Catholic Church the True Emancipation’; ‘The Irish People in their Relation [to] the Catholic Church’. Also a second part: ‘The Sophistries of Froude Refuted’ (pp.117-288, end.], includes ‘Volunteers of 1782’; ‘Normen [sic] in Ireland’; ‘Ireland Under the Tudors’; ‘Ireland Under Cromwell’; ‘Grattan and the Volunteers’; ‘The Future of Ireland’.

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Criticism
William J Fitzpatrick, The Life of the Very Reverend Thomas N. Burke 2 vols. (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench 1885); Do., new rev. edn. (1894) [Hyland, Jan. 1996]; Anon., The Inner Life of Father Thomas Burke (London: Burns & Oates n.d.).

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Commentary
Donald T. Torchiana, Backgrounds for Joyce’s “Dubliners” (Boston: Allen & Unwin 1986), remarks that the sermon imitated by Kernan in “Grace” was probably preached in Yonkers, NY, 16 Dec. 1872, where amid exaggerated praise of so-called beleaguered late Pope Pius IX, Father Tom lamented his fate as ‘a sad prisoner in the abandoned halls of the Vatican’. Burke’s biographer [?Fitzpartick?] says his voice resembled one of the great tragedians, and that ‘histrionic tastes were with him no passing fancy’. Though as a priest the theatre was forbidden to him, he showed to the end dramatic passion and power’; celebrated Pius IX’s espousal of Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility; Burke’s inspired nationalism; roundly approved of appointment of Paul Cullen to cardinalship; sermons included ‘Drunkenness the Worst Degradation - Temperance, the Greatest Blessings of Man’, ‘No salvation outside the Catholic Church’, and ‘The Genius and Character of the Irish People’. Torchiana cites a passage from Burke’s life in ODNB biography on his collections in America, and his assault on Froude. Burke was son of a Galway baker; acc. Torchiana, crude wit, awkward jokes, florid oratory, vulgar attacks on Darwin and women’s rights are what most attach to his memory. Anon, The Inner Life of Father Thomas Burke (London: Burns & Oates n.d.), which characterises him as a youthful prankster, raconteur, &c., is written by an anonymous Dublin Dominican who is ‘resolute in explaining the two sides of the jolly father on every page’ (Torchiana). [Bibl. given here appears under Works & Criticism - as supra.]

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Elizabeth Burke [Countess Fingall], Seventy Years Young, with Pamela Hinkson [1937] (rep.edn. 1991), writes: ‘when I heard the wonderful voice of Father Tom Burke [at Westland Row], the famous Dominican preacher, thunder through the shadows his denunciation of the murderers of Mr. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish … (p.50).

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Cheryl Herr, For the Land They Loved (Syracuse UP 1991), remarks: ‘[J. A.] Froude was answered by many critics ... full-time historians or public speakers. One of the latter, Fr. Nicholas Burke, lectured contra Froude when he toured Irish-American sites in the late nineteenth century with his own flamboyant mixture of “old sod” rhetoric, patriotic Catholicism, and showmanship.’ (pp.69-70.)

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References
Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin McCarthy (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extracts from ‘The History of Ireland’ and ‘The National Music of Ireland’; bibl. Mrs R. Manning, ‘In Memoriam Rev. T. N. Burke, O.P., died July 2 1882’, ded. to his brethren of the order in Dublin (Clonmel: Chronicle Office 1883).

The Life of the Very Reverend Thomas N. Burke 2 vols. (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench 1885; new rev. edn. 1894) [Hyland Catalogue, Jan .1996]. Ireland’s Vindication, Refutation of Froude, and Other Lectures, Historical and Religious (London: Oates n.d.), 286pp.; Ireland’s Case Stated in Reply to Mr Froude (NY: Haverty 1873), 283pp.; Lectures on Faith and Fatherland (Glasgow: Washbourne n.d.), 284pp. [Cathach Books, 1996-97].

University of Ulster Central Library (Morris Collectio) holds Ireland’s Vindication, Refutation of Froude, and other lectures, historical and religious (187-), 286pp.; Lectures on Faith and Fatherland (1874), 284pp.

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Quotations
Take the average Irishman - I don’t care wher you find him - and you will find that the very first principle in his mind is, “I am not an Englishman because I am a Catholic! Take an Irishman wherever he is found all over the earth, and any [5] casual observer will at once come to the conclusion, “Oh, he is an Irishman, he is a cathoic”. The two go together.’ (Thomas Burke, ‘The Supernatural Life of the Irish People’, in Lectures in Faith and Fatherland (London, n.pub., n.d.), p.117; quoted in John A. Murphy, ‘Religion and Irish Identity’, in [George Sandelescu, ed.,] Irishness in a Changing Society, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988, p.133; cited in James H. Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 [Greenwood Press 1997), pp.5-6.

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Notes
James Joyce: Joyce cites Burke along with with Archbishop McHale [as MacHale] and Leo XIII in his story “Grace” where, according to the character Cunningham, ‘[t]here used always be crowds of Protestants in the chapel when Father Tom was preaching’. (See further in Torchiana, under Criticism, supra.)

Namesake: A Fr Tom Burke, from Castlegar, Co. Galway, was involved in the independence movement, serving as chaplain to the Galway Brigade of the Irish Volunteers/IRA, while his sister Margaret was a member of Cumann na mBan, afterwards interned in the North Dublin Union Internment Camp.

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