Architect in the Office of Public Works, Dublin, from 1903 until 1942. Martin Joseph Burke, a builder's son, was born in Dublin on 1 March 1877 and educated by the Christian Brothers. (However he boldly declares himself 'Agnostic' on the 1911 census return.) He was articled to his father from 1893 to 1899 and to the architect RICHARD COULSON from 1899 to 1900. During his period of apprenticeship he obtained scholarships from the City of Dublin Technical Schools into the College of Science and School of Art. In 1900 he was appointed teacher of building construction at the City of Dublin Technical Schools, where he continued to teach building construction and quantity surveying throughout his life.
On 22 June 1903 Burke entered the employment of the Office of Public Works as an assistant surveyor. He was promoted to architect in 1921 and to deputy chief architect in 1939. He retired in 1942. As deputy principal architect he was responsible under the principal architect for the planning and design of all new government buildings in the South Dublin district, including the Brunswick Street police barracks and the Labour Exchange in Lord Edward Street.
Burke died on 26 June 1952 following an operation. His wife had predeceased him in about 1940. He had one son, Martin Desmond, who was also an architect with the Office of Public Works.
Burke had a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the practice and theory of building and the associated trades. His obituarist in the Irish Times wrote of him: 'His whole-hearted devotion to his studies and his work so occupied his time and mind that his social contacts were comparatively restricted; but, as is frequently the case with those of a retiring disposition, his friendships when made were loyal and durable, and any of his companions who came to him in distress could be assured of a sympathetic hearing, sound if sometimes rather dogmatic advice and generous assistance. Absorbed in his official duties, happy in the exercise of his amateur craftsmanship, or deeply engrossed in some technical literature, Martin Burke cared little for the normal convivialities of life although, could he be induced to attend any festive gathering, he thoroughly entered into the spirit of the occasion. His one abiding interest outside those of his profession was cricket, and he was an active supporter of the Leinster Cricket Club, being in his earlier years a noteworthy bowler on its first eleven.'
AAI: elected member, 1904; gives lecture entitled 'A Heating Job', 1 March 1917; president 1918-1919.
RIAI: elected member 1919.
RIBA: passed preliminary examination for admission as probationer, June 1901; elected licentiate 27 Feb 1911. Surveyors' Institution: fellow in or before 1917.
Address: 1 Eglinton Terrace, South Circular Road, 1901l; 8 Eglinton Terrace, 1911; 173 South Circular Road at time of death.
Most, but not all, of the information in Jones's biography of Burke is from the obituary notices IB 94, 5 Jul 1952, 683, and RIAI Year Book (1953), 20 (by H.G. Leask). There is substantial information from at least one other source for which no reference is given. There is also an entry on Burke in Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 (RIBA 2001), I, 300. A portrait photograph forms the frontispiece to AAI Green Book (1919).
Jones, citing Board of Works records.
The Directory of British Architects gives the dates of his apprenticeship to Coulson as 1900-1901.
See note 1 above.
IB 84, 15 Aug 1942, 287.
Obituary in IB, cited above.
IB 59, 17 Mar 1917, 125.
JRIAI (1920), 4.
RIBAJ 8 (1900-1901), 435.
RIBAJ 18 (1910-1911), 314.