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Irish Surname - Burke or Bourke

This Norman name originated from the borough of Caen in Normandy (de burg means "of the borough"). The names Burke and Bourke (variant spelling) were introduced to Ireland in the Anglo-Norman Invasion of 1169 and 1170. William de Burgo, of Burgh in Suffolk, accompanied Strongbow, the earl of Pembroke, to Ireland and later succeeded him as Chief Governor of Ireland under King Henry 11 and was rewarded with great estates.

The de Burgo clan settled mainly in the province of Connaught and other variations of the name include Burgh and De Burgh.

Richard Mór de Burgh, 1st Baron of Connaught, was the eldest son of William de Burgh and his principal estate was in the barony of Loughrea where he built a castle in 1236 and founded the town. The islands on Lough Mask and Lough Orben were part of his demesne and he also founded Galway town and Ballinasloe.

Richard Óg de Burgh, ('The Red Earl'), 2nd Earl of Ulster and 3rd Baron of Connaught (1259 - 1326), was one of the most powerful Irish nobles of the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

The Burke / Bourke surname now ranks as one of the twenty commonest in Ireland and is distributed through the four provinces. It is least numerous in Ulster and most numerous in Connacht where the de Burgo family obtained vast estates at the end of the 12th Century.

Alternate Surname Spellings

Bourke, Burk, Bourk

Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.

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