THE three-time mayor of Limerick Jack Bourke has passed away at the age of 80.
A stalwart of Fianna Fail for decades, Mr Bourke represented the old Ward Three, which comprised of large areas of the southside, after being persuaded to enter the political arena by Donogh O’Malley.
His funeral will take place this Wednesday.
The Roxboro Road resident was first elected in 1967, and nearly 40 years on Limerick City Council. He was brought up in Collins Avenue, Whitehall and was the first Dublin-born Mayor of Limerick since 1842. He went to work in his well known father Lorcan business and came to Limerick in 1953 to manage the City Theatre, which was then a 1,000 seater venue. He proved an expectional manager and the City Theatre blossomed and became the venue for the annual 10-week festival of Irish theatre.
Mr Bourke was elected as the city’s first citizen on three occasions: in 1968, 1986, while he was most recently mayor as Limerick rang in the new millennium.
His second bid for the mayoralty was the most dramatic: in 1968 when he and former Labour TD Steve Coughlan got eight votes each, Jack ended up with the chain when his name was drawn from a hat by a schoolboy present at the election.
He became famous for the election slogan ‘I’m Backing Jack’, while he also served as a distinguished chairman of the the Mid-Western Health Board from 1982 until the year 2000.
Local Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea said Mr Bourke had been a mentor to him. “When I was starting out, and was the only Fianna Fail TD after Desmond O’Malley set up the Progressive Democrats, he was a great source of advice. He was a great man to work with me in the background,” Mr O’Dea told the Leader yesterday. “He was a very wise man. He was a great person to be around. A highly articulate person. A very wise, long- serving councillor.”
Mr Bourke ran on two occasions for the Seanad, firstly for the Cultural and Educational Panel in 1993, then on the Labour panel four years later. Although both attempts were unsuccessful Mr O’Dea believes he would have been elected in 1997 were it not for a mix-up with his nomination papers.
Mayor Jim Long said: “He was flamboyant, very articulate, very strong in his views, but he was also very balanced. He served Limerick well. It is a very sad day for politics,” he said.
Jack Bourke’s wife Monica passed away last year. He is survived by four grown up children; Declan, Deirdre, Niall, Orla.
His removal will take place between 5pm and 7pm this Tuesday at Griffin’s funeral home, Pennywell to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Janesboro. Funeral Mass on Wednesday at 11am followed by burial to Mount St Lawrence cemetery.