THE death of Michael Burke, Pragueville, Stradbally Road, Portlaoise on March 13, just short of his 98th birthday, has deprived the community of one of its most popular and esteemed members.
Michael was born on April 4, 1912 in Killimor, Co Galway. The second eldest of seven children, Michael always had a very keen interest in sport and represented his local club, Killimor, and subsequently his native county, in hurling. His most notable success was in 1935 when his team won the Connaught Championship.
He moved to Portlaoise in the early 1940s where he met and married a local lady, Teresa Egan, in 1948. They had three daughters. He established his construction company around this time and was responsible for many one-off-houses, schools and church refurbishment.
He had a reputation for excellent craftsmanship and went on to build Portlaoise’s first apartment complex and housing estate, Newpark, in 1963. He was regarded as one of the most successful building contractors of his time, employing a loyal workforce. He was always regarded as a just and fair employer and showed genuine concern for the well being of his employees. It was with huge regret that he retired at the age of 75, shortly before the death of his wife, Teresa.
His interest in sport continued beyond his hurling days, particularly in golf. He represented The Heath Golf Club on many successful teams, particularly the Barton Cup. He was Heath GC Captain in 1972 and continued to play and enjoy golf up to last September where he was particularly active with local 'Dad's Army Club' He was a very astute card-player and he was also a very keen gardener producing most of his own vegetables.
He was a deeply religious man and was always warm, generous and caring to all those he came in contact with. All his life he believed that the measure of a man was to be gauged by his actions.
His second daughter Geraldine predeceased him in November 2006. He is survived by his daughters Helen and Mary, his grandchildren Niall, Ruth, Michele, John, Eugene, Elaine, Eoin and David, sons-in law Paddy, Eugene and John as well as cousins, nieces, nephews and many good friends.
May his gentle soul rest in piece.