Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burke, Thomas Nicholas

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BURKE, THOMAS NICHOLAS (1830–1883), Dominican friar, was born in the town of Galway in Ireland on 8 Sept. 1830. His father was a poor baker. At the age of seventeen he went to Rome and thence to Perugia, where he entered the order of St. Dommic, commencing his novitiate and the study of philosophy. From Perugia he was again sent to Rome, where he studied theology at the college of the Minerva and Santa Sabina. After having thus spent five years in Italy, he was sent by the superior of his order to England, where he was ordained priest in 1853. He spent four years on the English mission in Gloucestershire, and was then sent to Ireland to found a novitiate and house of studies for his order at Tallaght near Dublin. This he successfully lished, and for the next seven years he was busily employed in the care of the new establishment, and in preaching missions in different parts of Ireland. He was next sent to Rome as prior of the monastery of Irish Dominicans at San Clemente. After the death of Cardinal Wiseman, Burke succeeded Dr. Manning as preacher of the Lenten sermons in English in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. He continued to preach these sermons for five years. After his return to Ireland he was attached to St. Saviour's Dominican church in Dublin. In 1872 he visited the United States, having been appointed visitor to the houses of the Dominican community on the American continent. He delivered sermons and lectures in all parts of the Union, and acquired extraordinary popularity as an orator. The sum collected or American charities by his sermons reached 100,000l. His lectures in answer to Mr. J. A. Froude, the historian, on the relations between England and Ireland, caused much excitement and produced an animated controversy. The first of these lectures was delivered on 12 Nov. 1872, in the Academy of Music, New York. On leaving the United States he returned to the convent at Tallaght, where he died on 2 July 1883.

His works are: 1. ‘English Misrule in Ireland,’ a course of lectures in reply to Mr. Froude, New York, 1873, 12mo. 2. ‘Ireland's Case stated, in reply to Mr. Froude,’ New York, 1873. 3. ‘Lectures and Sermons,' New York, 1873. 4. ‘Lectures on Faith and Fatherland,' 1874. 5. ‘St. Ignatius and the Jesuits,' a sermon, London, 1880, 8vo.

[Life by W. J. Fitzpatrick, F.S.A., 2 vols. London, 1885 ; Tablet, 7 July 1883 ; Men of the Time (1884), 191 ; Cat. of Printed Books an Brit. Mus.]

T. C.