Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin. John Edward Burke was born in 1885, the son of Richard Burke, wholesale woollen merchant, of 10 Merchant's Quay and 9, Eblana Terrace, North Circular Road. He was educated at Belvedere College from 1896 until 1902. He was then apprenticed to WILLIAM HENRY BEARDWOOD  WILLIAM HENRY BEARDWOOD and was afterwards an assistant in the office of GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN . He was about to emigrate to Africa when the First World War broke out. He joined the British Army and in August 1914 went to France as a private in the South Irish Horse. He obtained a commission in the Royal Artillery, worked for some time with the Royal Engineers, and after rejoining the Artillery transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as Observation Officer in the Balloon Section. He had some dramatic escapes and was twice mentioned in dispatches.

In 1921 Burke was in London, where he sat the Special War examination of the RIBA, which he duly passed. In the same year he went to Trinidad to take up the post of a Commissioner of Public Works. He then appears to have returned to Dublin, where he worked for a short time in the Office of Public Works, and then to have practised in New York. He came back to Ireland in 1932 to take up a position in the housing department of Dublin Corporation ; although the appointment was initially a temporary one,(1) he remained in the department almost until his death. He had just retired, when he died rather suddenly on 25 September 1951, leaving a widow, two sons and one daughter. His son John was also an architect.

AAI: member, 1909-1951.(2)
RIAI: elected member 1921;(3) resigned, 1930;(4) reinstated, 1933.(5)
RIBA: ; elected associate 28 Feb 1921, proposed by RUDOLF MAXIMILIAN BUTLER RUDOLF MAXIMILIAN BUTLER , A.E. Richardson, and Martin S. Briggs.(6)


Jones's biography of Burke in Jones file B180 is very full. It includes information from the obituaries in RIAI Year Book (1952), 15, IB 93, 13 Oct 1951, 1043, and The Belvederian 16 (1952), 35-36 and from the long account of Burke's wartime experiences in France in The Belvederian (1915), 74. There are other references to Burke's wartime career in IB 56, 7 Nov 1914, 613; 57, 27 Feb 1915, 93; 58, 24 Jun 1916, 273. There seems be some confusion in Jones's account of the years 1921-1932, which states that Burke went in 1927 to Port of Spain, Trinidad, to work in the Public Works department and then moved to the United States in about 1928. However Burke was already in Trinidad when he joined the RIAI in 1921, and the RIAI membership lists have him in Dublin in 1923 and in the United States in 1926 and 1928. The JRIAI obituary states that he was in America for 8 years.

(1) IB 75, 26 Aug 1933, 714.
(2) AAI Green Books, lists of members.
(3) JRIAI (1922), 2.
(4) JRIAI (1931), 16.
(5) JRIAI (1934), 7.
(6) RIBAJ 28 (1921), 148.