De Búrc, De Búrca

Rev Patrick Woulfe

de BÚRC, de BÚRCA—XIde Burgo, De Burgh, Burke, Bourke; i.e., 'of the burgh' or 'borough.' This family ranks with the Fitzgeralds and Butlers as among the most illustrious of the Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland. They derive their descent from William Fitz Adelm de Burgo who, in 1171, accompanied Henry II to Ireland, was made governor of Wexford, and in 1178 succeeded Strongbow as chief governor of Ireland. In 1179, Fitz Adelm obtained a grant of a great portion of Connacht. By marriage with an heiress of the de Lacys, Walter de Burgo acquired, in addition to his other possessions, the earldom of Ulster; and the Burkes became the greatest Anglo-Norman family in Ireland. On the murder, in 1333, of William, the Brown Earl of Ulster, leaving only an infant daughter, the leading male representatives of the name adopted the Brehon law, which provided for a male succession, and dividing the lordship of Connacht between them, proclaimed themselves Irish chiefs under the style of MacWilliam Uachtar and Mac William Iochtar, that is, the Upper and Lower MacWilliam, the former seated in Co. Galway and the latter in Co. Mayo. And so Irish did the Burkes of Connacht become, that they were at one time regarded as 'mere Irish.' Minor branches assumed the surnames of MacDavid, MacPhilpin, Mac Seoinin, MacGibbon, MacRedmond, etc., from their respective ancestors. The Burkes were also lords of the barony of Clanwilliam in Co. Limerick. The name is now very common all over Ireland.

Alphabetical Index to Irish Surnames