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In loving memory of Séan Burke 

The Galway Association of London is deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and committee founder Séan Burke. Everyone who knew Séan will remember him as an exceptionally kind, generous, humble and loyal friend and supporter of the Galway association and the Irish community here in London. 
This page is dedicated to Séan and we invite you to leave tributes in the section below.  

There is great sadness in Galway sporting circles, and indeed through all walks of life in the county, on hearing the news from London of the death of Seán Burke, a native of Mullaghmore, Moylough.

Well known as a driving force behind the Galway Association in England's capital city for the past 40 years, Seán died peacefully after an illness bravely borne. His family and many, many friends at home in Ireland and across-Channel are heartbroken to lose a truly great man who was an inspiring presence in their lives.

Born on the 2nd of September 1943, Seán has gone to his eternal reward two days before his 77th birthday.
Very sadly, his daughter Suzanne died in London on April 5th this year ... two-and-a-half years after the death of Seán's beloved niece Teresa Quirke from Tuam.

In 1960, at the age of 17, Seán started his working life as a trainee barman at The Junction pub in Harlesden, London. He learned his trade so well, and so did four of his brothers, that in time they signed leases with the big English Breweries to run their own pubs, and all over London the Burkes became hugely popular and much admired for their work ethic, they way they conducted business, and - especially - the support they gave to the Irish community, in particular to their West of Ireland customers. Above all, they were proud of where they came from: they had a very special grá for everything Galway, back home and across-Channel, and the best of rousing welcomes were reserved for Moylough and Mountbellew visitors.

One of the Burke brothers, Eugene, stayed at home to run The Hawthorn pub in Mountbellew. And in the late 1970s and into the '80s, Seán and Mary Burke took over The Hermitage Hotel, Dublin Road, Tuam. That magnificent building is now the home of St Jarlath's Credit Union.

Although based across-Channel for the past three decades, Seán was a regular visitor here, every year, and so too was his brother Bob, a good footballer in his youth, but whose sporting fame came later, as a racehorse owner. He is in the Hall of Fame for winning two Grand Nationals -- in 1999, the Irish National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday ... and in Spring of the following year the most famous race in the world, the Aintree Grand National. The horse of a lifetime, trained by Tommy Carberry and ridden by his son Paul Carberry, was Bobbyjo, famously carrying the colours of Bobby Burke and his wife Jo.

Seán Burke enjoyed every moment of that great racehorse's thrilling victories, but Seán's great sporting love was Gaelic football and along with his brother Bob they funded, for many years, a very successful coaching programme, known as the Bobbyjo scheme, for Galway under-age football.

The Burkes continued to be very generous patrons of Galway GAA in many ways, helping quietly and without seeking public credit, and Seán also played a leading role in the provision of a statue, in Moylough, to honour the memory of the late, great Enda Colleran. It was also fitting that a statue was erected in nearby Mountbellew to the legendary racehorse Bobbyjo.

As Enda Colleran came from a distinguished Moylough family, it meant a lot to Seán that Galway's All-Ireland winning captain of 1965 and '66 was honoured in his native place. Seán was joined by his close friends Joe Conway, John Mannion, Padraic Naughton, Brother Michael Burke and Seán's partner Veronica McGowan for that project.

In more recent times, Seán, with Pat Hoare, Nora Connelly, Finbarr Burke and many other friends across-Channel were enthusiastic and generous supporters of the Development Advocates for Tuam Stadium, the voluntary group known as DAfTS.

In London, Seán will forever be remembered for the key role he played in the success of the annual Galway Association presentation banquet, honouring many heroes of sport and public life back home and in England. It was a calendar date not to be missed and guests travelled from Ireland, Scotland and Wales to join the London Galways for the occasion.

In special messages to Galway Bay fm, Joe Conway, John Mannion, Pat Hoare and Nora Connelly paid tribute to Seán for his public and private support of many great causes. All said he was particularly kind and generous to Galway people in London who needed a helping hand, and were sometimes too shy to ask for it.
But somehow Seán always knew where there was a need to put his sturdy shoulder to the wheel. In all cases, he preferred to do it privately.

A powerfully built man, well over 6 feet, strikingly handsome and with his dark beard always well trimmed, Seán Burke commanded full attention when he walked into a room or into a sports arena. Yet, he was very likely to be the most modest, unassuming man there.

It is very sad to think that we will not meet him again, at Tuam Stadium or at Ruislip, or on visits back to his home place, Mullaghmore, where his life's great journey began.

Our sympathy is extended to Veronica, to Seán's son Noel and daughter Laura; his brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and the extended Burke family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

(Written by Jim Carney)

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