‘RESPECTED FAR AND WIDE’ The late Eoin Burke.
THE community of Clonbur and surrounding areas were plunged into deep shock on Saturday last after news broke that ‘a man loved by all the people of Connemara’ had died suddenly.
Eoin Burke (53), a member of one of Clonbur’s best-known families, was pronounced dead following a single-vehicle collision on Saturday afternoon in East Carrick, Cornamona.
The father of four was remembered by friends last night as a ‘fantastic character’ who had ‘the gift of organising people’ who was well-known for his work with both the Clonbur GAA club and various community organisations.
Husband to Bríd, and father of Hannah, Paddy, Muiréad and Jean, Mr Burke was involved in his family’s award-winning restaurant Burke’s of Clonbur – also known as Tí Bhurca – and he also managed Peacocke’s Hotel in Maam Cross.
He also ran Maam Cross Mart and worked in the family undertaking business with his father, Ciarán.
A passionate and talented Gaelic footballer, who represented Clonbur for many years, as well as serving as the club’s chairman, Mr Burke also won an All-Ireland Senior ‘A’ Colleges (Hogan Cup) medal with St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, in 1982.
Mr Burke was called in to replace injured team-mate Pat McNamara (Corofin) ahead of the final, wearing the number six jersey on the team that defeated St Fachtna’s, Skibbereen.
Micheál Gannon of Clonbur Community Council, a close friend of Mr Burke, told The Mayo News that it was a ‘sign of the man’ that after the momentous win against St Fachtna’s he gave the number six jersey to his injured team-mate.
Mr Gannon explained that the gesture has since been reciprocated, as following Eoin’s untimely passing last weekend, Mr McNamara returned the jersey to the Burke family.
“That’s the maturity Eoin had at age 18 … He was a gas character, full of devilment but also maturity,” said Micheal, adding that politics and GAA ‘were his life’.
“He had the gift of organising people and getting them into position … His parking was legendary; if someone said he was in the village, all you’d have to do was look for the worst parked car.”
Another long-time friend, Eamon Ó’Cuív, Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West, described Mr Burke as an ‘extremely good-natured person’ who was ‘respected far and wide’.
“He was the most obliging person you could ever meet. He was someone who would always see the glass as half full rather than half empty … I counted him amongst my closest friends. He was a fantastic character, full of good stories.”
Mr Burke has been described as one of the ‘main motivators’ behind Ó’Cuív’s political campaigns. “Everyone looked to him [on the campaign trail],” said Mr Gannon.
Former Chairman of the Galway County GAA Board John Joe Holleran (who is also married to Mr Burke’s aunt, Mary), described Mr Burke as a ‘fearless competitor’ and a ‘big teddy bear’ off the pitch.
“He was a really tough man but off the field when it was all over he was a big teddy bear. He was well liked and the type that would do anything for you with a heart and a half,” said Mr Holleran.
“All Connemara people loved him,” he added, speaking about Mr Burke’s way with people when he took over Peacocke’s Hotel three years ago. “Anything you needed you got … If you were in the trenches, Eoin is the man you want with you.”
Mr Burke also played rugby with Ballinrobe RFC in the ’90s and was described as ‘a fine player’ by club chairman Martin Gannon. The weekly Ballinrobe RFC Lotto was cancelled on Sunday last as a mark of respect.
Eoin is deeply mourned by his wife, Bríd; children, Hannah, Paddy, Muiréad and Jean; parents, Ciaran and Cha; brothers, Tomas, Gearóid and Colm; sisters, Adrienne and Anna, family and friends.
Reposing in Burke’s Funeral Home, Clonbur today (Tuesday) from 4pm with removal at 8pm to Saint Patrick’s Church, Clonbur. Funeral Mass on Wednesday, November 29, at 12 noon, with burial afterwards to Rosshill Cemetery, Clonbur.