The late Eileen Bourke, R.I.P.
Born Mary Ellen Bentley on December 28th 1933, she was always called Eileen and was the oldest of the 14 children of William and Margaret Bentley. She lived most of her young life in Church Street, Templemore having lived in the “old’ House in lower Church Street and eventually in number 5 and went to school in Templemore.
At the young age of 16 she moved to England where she worked in cotton mills in Oldham for few years. When she returned home she worked for a time in Leo Cullen's hotel (Foley’s). Having finished her time there she then went into service for General & Mrs Wakely at the Rectory House, Roscrea Road and also worked for Colonel & Mrs Lidwell.
Billy Burke, a Cashel man, came to Templemore as a postman, having spent some time as a telegram boy in Bandon Co. Cork, and lived in Patrick Street with Phillip Brennan. It was believed that it was at the dances in the Town Hall that Eileen met him. They married on September 17th 1957 at 8 a.m. in the morning which was the norm in those days. They had 6 children of whom 4 survived namely Michael, Margaret (Healy), Martin and Anna. She took time out to look after her family and the family lived for a short period of time in McDonagh Terrace before moving to The Park in the early 60’s. When family was old enough Eileen went back to work in the boys Secondary School and has had a great friendship with Fr. Pat Seavers, who was a Christian Bother at the time and was one of the Principals of the school during her time there.
She became involved with the ICA and loved the arts and crafts and took part with ICA in stage singing and dancing and short plays. She was also involved in the committee who revived the swimming pool in the park with her best friend Nellie Hanly.
In her later years she loved going to day care centre to meet her friends, have a laugh and play some bingo and as John Brown recalled loved to take the long route home from the Day Care on a Friday in the bus in the company of another old friend Maggie Tobin (RIP) where upon all matters of the day were discussed and commented on. One thing you can say about Eileen is that she held nothing back and all comments were given in a good straight line be they good or bad! and nothing was held back.
She loved the painting classes given by her good friend Joe Barry, also the monthly parties and, when able, going on the annual holidays with the other members of the Day Care. The only time she went foreign (past England) was to Italy. This venture was taken as part of a group from Templemore Community Day Care Centre and they went with the Templemore Twinning group. They had a great time and enjoyed the hospitality shown by the Italians.
She was an avid knitter and spent many hours on her knitting machine running up jumpers and cardigans for school going children in the surrounding area. When she gave up the knitting she settled down to watching her favourite cowboy films on the classic movie channels or reminiscing with neighbours and friends about the old times and the people of Templemore.
Eileen passed away peacefully at Portlaoise Hospital on the 7th June 2018. She was survived by her sons and daughters – Michael, Margaret, Martin and Anna, her grandchildren Lorna and William (Hull, England) and by her brothers Donnie, Tom and Joe, her sisters Ann (Nan), Philomena, Catherine, Bridgeen and Hilary.
Eileen was predeceased by her Mother and Father, her sisters Mary, Betty and by her brothers Billy, Michael and Tony (Devanney), also husband Billy.
She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.