Jeremiah Burke

Irish Titanic passenger sent a message in a bottle

Jeremiah Burke

Jeremiah Burke was born in Ballynoe1, Rathcooney, Glanmire, Co Cork, Ireland on 15 April 1893.

Coming from a Roman Catholic family, he was the son of William Burke (b. circa 1856), a farmer, and Catherine Hegarty (b. circa 1852 ) who were married around 1882.

One of seven living children from a total of nine, his surviving siblings were: Mary (b. 2 January 1883, later Mrs Michael Burns), Hanora (b. 4 April 1885, later Mrs John Casey), Catherine "Kitty" (b. 2 January 1887), Ellen "Nellie" (b. 26 December 1888, later Mrs James Hamilton), William (b. 2 January 1891) and Laurence (b. 2 May 1895). 

Jeremiah appears on both the 1901 and 1911 census living with his family in Ballynoe and being described as a farmer's son on the latter record. Two of his elder sisters had earlier emigrated and settled in the USA; his oldest sibling Mary had emigrated to  Charlestown, Boston around 1905 and had been married in the summer of 1911 to Michael Burns and was pregnant with her first child. Jeremiah decided to join them there and Mary sent the funds for him to travel.

Burke boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third-class passenger (ticket number 365222 which cost £6, 15s). Travelling with him was his cousin Hanora Hegarty (his mother was the sister of her father Laurence Hegarty) and whilst aboard they reportedly were acquainted with Eugene Daly and likely others from Cork.

Jeremiah died in the sinking, as did his cousin Hanora. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. His estate, worth a paltry £5, was administered to his father William on 11 December 1912.

BURKE - April 15th, lost on ss. Titanic disaster, Jeremiah, the beloved son of William and Kate Burke, Upper Glanmire, aged 19 years. Deeply regretted. R.I.P. -  Cork Examiner, 27 April 1912

His sister Mary gave birth to a daughter, Catherine Ignatius, on 21 June 1912. She went on to have a further two daughters, Mary (b. 1915) and Helen Frances (b. 1917) and remained living in Boston with her family and is believed to have died in the late 1960s. His sister Nellie (later Mrs James Hamilton) also lived in Boston for the rest of her life and had a son named James in 1920. She died on 30 March 1982.

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:


13/4/1912 [sic]
from Titanic,

Goodbye all
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 gave it to him for good luck as he left the family house to be driven to Queenstown 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.

His family in Ireland remained in Ballynoe; his mother outlived him by just shy of two years and succumbed to cancer on 30 December 1913. His father rallied for close to a further two decades and died on 1 May 1931 from pneumonia.


  1. Sometimes spelled Ballinoe; derives from the Irish An Baile Nua

References and Sources

Robert L. Bracken (2000) Irish Titanic Passengers
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
"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


Jeremiah Burke
Boston Globe (1912) Jeremiah Burke


Message in a bottle
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Shannonburke said:

    Jerimiah Burke was my Grampa's cousin.

  2. Shannon (995) said:

    Hello my name also is Shannon Burke and I thought I would look into any relations.  Ya never know!

  3. Teri said:

    I have a 3-4 cousin DNA Match by the surname of Burke. My ancestry reported part heritage from Cork, Munster, Ireland. Also have a remote match by the surname of Haggarty (maybe variant of Hegarty). Interesting indeed.

  4. Natasha welsh said:

    I've looked into my family tree and jeremiah is ny great great great grandfather x

  5. Eimer said:

    Jeremiah Burke is my great grand uncle. (Grandfathers uncle)

  6. Eimer said:

    He is my Grandpa's uncle

  7. Natasha welsh (4637) said:

    Jeremiah Burke is my great great uncle according to ancestry

Reply Watch Thread


Gavin Bell, UK
Robert L. Bracken, USA
Niamh O'Mahoney, Ireland
Leslie Mallory, Ireland
Noel Ray, Ireland
Gerald A. Regan, Ireland

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Jeremiah Burke (ref: #700, last updated: 17th September 2018, accessed 26th July 2021 16:22:21 PM)

Discover More

Join the Encyclopedia Titanica Community (22k)     Join the Encyclopedia Titanica Facebook Group (12.5k)