Patrick Burke of Moorpark, Birr
Patrick Burke was born at Moorpark, Parsonstown, King’s County on 13 March 1881. He was the son of William Burke and Rosanna Burke (nee Carey). William had married Rosanna Egan, a widow on 25 April 1876 in Parsonstown. William’s profession was listed as a labourer. They had a least one daughter, Elizabeth, in addition to Patrick.
Patrick started school on 3 August 1885 at St Brendan’s National School. He was present 43 days for his first year, 185 days for his second year and 207 days for his third year. After this third year he no longer continued with school and was struck off the schools register in 1894.
William Burke appears to have died around 1892, his wife Rosanna marrying Lawrence Sheehan on 30 September 1894 in St Brendan’s Catholic Church, Parsonstown.
While no records survive, Patrick joined the militia, the 3rd Battalion, Leinster Regiment sometime around 1896-1898. Being in the militia would require him attending annual training camps which were usually hosted in the "Fourteen Acres" at Birr Barracks.
Between 1897 and 1914, Patrick appears in the Birr petty session records more than 30 times, the charges against vary from poaching, trespassing and keeping dogs without a license to more serious offenses as threatening and abusing people, assault, drunk and disorderly in public. Most of these charges would be dropped, but more than once he faced a hefty fine and court expenses.
On 24 November 1899, Patrick was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment in Limerick jail for poaching game. The prison register records Patrick as being 5 foot, 7 ½ inches tall with dark brown coloured hair and blue eyes. He is noted as having a scar on his right jaw.
Prior to Patrick’s time in prison, the Boer War had erupted in South Africa. With a dire need for troops, the militia in Birr was mobilised and embodied for service. The commanding officer volunteers the battalion for service overseas, the battalion served in South Africa for two long years and returned in May 1902. For his service Patrick received the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps “Cape Colony”, “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal” and the King’s South Africa medal with the clasps “South Africa 1901” and “South Africa 1902”
The 1901 census shows us the Sheehan/Burke family living at 22 Moorpark Street. Lawrence, Rosanna, Elizabeth Burke and Edward Sheehan are listed as living there, the latter being from Lawrence’s previous marriage. Patrick missing as he was in South Africa with the militia.
With Patrick’s return to Birr, so did his run ins with the law. A notable incident which made the local newspapers occurred on Christmas Eve 1904. Elizabeth Burke was coming home from the pub with Walter O’Connor. Out from a dark came Andrew and Patrick Curran who struck her in the face and told her they would have her brother’s life that night. Reaching home Lawrence and Patrick left the house and found Patrick and Andrew Curran. Lawrence hit Patrick Curran with a stick and Patrick Burke hit him in the face with an iron bar, which apparently knocked out several of Curran’s teeth. All involved in the scuffle were ordered to pay a monetary penalty or face 2 months in prison.
With the outbreak of the Great War, Patrick was recalled for service, going overseas on 19 December 1914. The date closing matching the date when the 1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment arrived in Le Harve. After initial service with the Leinsters, Patrick also served in India with the 2nd Garrison Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers and then later with the 2nd Garrison Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. He was discharged as Class Z on 11 March 1919. His service entitled him to a 1915 Star, British War medal and Victory medal.
After being discharged he reenlisted in the Royal Scots Fusiliers until 23 January 1922, likely to qualify for an army pension.
Patrick’s post war life is unclear, a marriage record for 1925 might be his, but no death records have been traced yet.