Last year The Nationalist ran a competition on the Tipperary Town pages titled ‘Spot the Pride’ in Tipperary that featured photographs of different ornate architectural features on buildings around the town. One of the featured buildings was 74 Main Street Tipperary that is now occupied by the Permanent TSB.
The photograph, depicting the beautiful masks and architectural styling, caught the eye of a Nationalist reader from Fethard. Marie Crean, who shared with the Nationalist an intriguing delightful story of a young woman (Marie’s Gran Aunt) named Margaret Meehan from St Johnstown, Fethard, born in the 19th century Ireland, whose determination, courage and astuteness in difficult times to survive, created a gold-dust fortune.
Margaret Meehan (born 1860) met her future husband John Bourke who hailed from Lisvernane, Glen of Aherlow, on the boat to America in the 1880s. Together they made the 2570-mile journey by horse across to the other side of America to the western region of Nevada where John mined for Gold and Margaret to bring in an extra income started a B&B for gold miners. In the early 1900s John, suffering with Miner’s lung wished to return home to Tipperary but was worried about what they would do to earn a living. It was then that Margaret revealed to her husband bags of gold dust hiding behind the Sacred Heart picture that she had collected over the years by placing a piece of muslin in the outlet of the bath that the gold miners bathed in. They returned to Tipperary and bought the site 74 Main Street Tipperary and built a Public house called Yankee Bourkes.
Just recently in February 2011 Neil Van Alstyne from Anaconda, Montana USA, contacted the Nationalist after discovering the article whilst researching his family history. “I have been researching my Burke ancestors and relatives for over twelve years and I was amazed to read the story recently when I searched for information on my family,” said Mr Van Alstyne. “The story was fascinating and the John Bourke/Burke that was mentioned in your story was my Great-Grandmother’s brother, as a result John Burke would be my Great-Grand Uncle.”
Neil Van Alstyne shares the following information about John & Margaret Bourke in the hope that any relatives in Tipperary will contact him.
John Holway Burke was one of seventeen children born to Patrick Burke and Eliza Holloway in the area of Stonepark, Glen of Aherlow. John was born in 1860 and died October 15, 1916 in Tipperary Town. John was one of the first of his siblings to arrive in America from Ireland and some of the Burke siblings settled shortly in Buffalo, New York possibly because there were relatives that lived there. Eventually the siblings would make their way to Anaconda, Montana. Altogether there would be eleven Burke siblings that came over to the United States and settled in Anaconda, Montana. John Burke can be first documented being in Anaconda in 1885 when he is listed as the proprietor of a saloon. John married Margaret Meehan on June 04, 1888 in Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, Montana. Also, John’s brother William Burke married an Ellen Meehan on June 02, 1890 in Anaconda, Deer Lodge, Montana. Neil is fairly certain that Ellen Meehan was a sister to Margaret Meehan. On the marriage certificates for both marriages the parents are listed as John Meehan and Catherine or Kate Wilson. John Burke was involved in local politics in Anaconda being elected as an Alderman, which would today be the equivalent to a city councilman.
Neil Van Alstyne wishes to determine when John Burke and his wife came back to Montana and when exactly they returned to County Tipperary for good. He guesses that they went back to Ireland for good not long after August of 1893. He knows that the Irish Census of 1901 documents that John Burke was living in Tipperary town with his wife Margaret and his two nephews Patrick Burke and John Burke. The Irish Census of 1911 has John Burke was living at with his wife Margaret and his nephews Patrick Burke and John Burke. Also, he believes the land that John owned in the country was the family home and was land located at Stonepark, Glen of Aherlow and was previously owned by John’s father Patrick Burke who passed away in March of 1904 at the age of 76.
John Burke’s nephew John Burke took over the Public House located at 74 Main Street, Tipperary Town after his uncle passed away in October 15, 1916. John Wilson Burke the nephew was born on July 08, 1893 in Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, Montana to William Burke and Ellen Meehan. It is unclear what became of William Burke and Ellen Meehan. Neil Van Alstyne assumes that William Burke and his wife Ellen returned to Ireland but he is not certain. Both of William and Ellen Burke’s children Patrick A. Burke and John Burke lived with their uncle John Burke. Patrick A. Burke was born July 02, 1891 in Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, Montana and died June 30, 1915 in France as a result of World War I. Other reports say he died in Gallipoli. He was a member of the Royal Munster Fusiliers.
The Public House located at 74 Main Street was eventually known as ‘Yankee Burkes’. John Burke died October 30, 1948 in Tipperary Town. John Burke’s son Paddy Burke ran the Public House until the possibly the 1970’s. Neil knows that there are still Burke relatives that live in Tipperary Town. “I know that I have a relative named John Burke who lives in Tipperary Town and who is a musician and I know that there are other relatives in the area as well,” says Neil. “I believe that they would also be related to Marie Crean, Fethard, through Ellen Meehan and I also have Holloway relatives that live in the Glen of Aherlow that my relatives have met in the past few years.”
If you have any information for Neil and wish to contact him with information please Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.