Mr Jeremiah Burke, 19, was the youngest of seven children. Two of his sisters had gone to America, and he decided to leave the Burke family farm in Ballinoe, Upper Glanmire, White's Cross, County Cork and follow them to seek a future in the United States. His cousin Nora Hegarty, 18, from Whitechurch, Co Cork intended to join an order of nuns in America.
They agreed to board a liner at Queenstown (Cobh). Several weeks before they were due to leave, Jeremiah's mother went to Queentstown, about 15 miles away, to buy the tickets. In Queenstown a family acquaintance was a clerk in the ticket office and advised them they might as well delay a while and have all the luxury of the Titanic.
They boarded the ship at Queenstown when it stopped there on 11 April 1912. On board the Titanic the two cousins made friends with Eugene Daly.
Jeremiah and his cousin died in the sinking, their bodies were never recovered.
Thirteen months later in the early summer of 1913, a postman (?coachman) walking his dog, found a small bottle on a shingle beach near Cork Harbour. Inside was a pencilled message:
Burke of Glanmire,
The bottle was brought to the local police station and later passed on to the Burke family. According to Brid O'Flynn, Jeremiah's grand-niece, his mother had filled a little bottle with holy water and given him for good luck as he left the family house to be driven to Cobh in a pony trap by his father and uncle. Ms. O'Flynn said, "This is unmistakably the bottle that had left thirteen months previously and unmistakably her son's handwriting." Could he have thrown it overboard as the Titanic sailed? Brid O'Flynn said, "A bottle of holy water in those days that your mother gave you was a reverent thing. It wasn't something you threw out the side as you left Ireland. To me it senses of panic." A message from a Titanic victim making its way back to the parish of his birth? That framed icon of their family tragedy is preserved today on the wall of John Burke's house in White's Cross, Cork. It was featured on Irish television in February 1998.
Jeremiah's mother died shortly after the bottle was discovered.
Robert L. Bracken (2000) Irish Titanic Passengers
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
"Nationwide", RTE-1 Irish TV, 2 February 1998. Interviews by Donna O'Sullivan, Cork.
Irish Echo, 25 January 1998
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Queenstown, 11 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/776/2).
Noel Ray (1999) List of Passengers who Boarded RMS Titanic at Queenstown, April 11, 1912. The Irish Titanic Historical Society
Robert L. Bracken, USA
Niamh O'Mahoney, Ireland
Leslie Mallory, Ireland
Noel Ray, Ireland
Gerald A. Regan, Ireland