STATUE OF FR. TOM BURKE
If you ever walk along Father Griffin Road in Galway City, you might notice a stone statue of a man in a Dominican habit, holding a book and a cross. This statue represents Fr. Tom Burke, one of the most famous and influential preachers of the 19th century, who was born in Galway in 1830.
Fr. Tom Burke joined the Dominican Order at the age of 15 and was ordained a priest in 1853. He soon became known for his eloquence, charisma and passion for preaching. He travelled extensively throughout Ireland, England, Scotland and the United States, delivering sermons on various topics such as faith, morality, history and literature. He was admired by people of all backgrounds and beliefs, and earned the title of the “Prince of the Preachers”.
Fr. Tom Burke was especially popular in the United States, where he visited several times between 1865 and 1883. He preached to large crowds in cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, and was invited to speak at prestigious venues such as Harvard University and the Academy of Music. He also raised funds for various causes, such as the Irish famine relief, the Catholic University of Ireland and the Dominican missions in Africa.
Fr. Tom Burke died in Dublin in 1883, at the age of 53. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, where a monument was erected in his honour. His legacy lives on through his writings, which were collected and published in several volumes, and through his influence on other preachers and speakers.
The statue of Fr. Tom Burke in Galway was unveiled in 1912, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. It was sculpted by Seán Kavanagh, a renowned Irish artist who also created statues of Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and James Joyce. The statue is a testament to the work done by Fr. Burke, as well as a physical reminder of the area’s social and religious history.
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