Wednesday 21 November 2018

Home of the Dublin GAA hero whose man was marked

The exterior of the house built on a road originally called Military Road, which is itself steeped in Irish history.
The exterior of the house built on a road originally called Military Road, which is itself steeped in Irish history.
Ticket from the match played on Bloody Sunday, November 21st, 1920
The mature gardens of the property.
The entrance hall
Frank Burke pictured on the hurling team, fourth from left, in the third row.
Frank Burke's Gaelic football team - can you identify him?
Carn Cottage exterior
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

WHEN school headmaster and keen Rathfarnham-based GAA sportsman Frank Burke left his family home on the morning of Sunday, November 21, 1920, little did he know that he would come be involved in the second great historic incident of his life – which would once see him lucky to escape with his life.

Having taken part in the Easter Rising, the former St Enda's School pupil of Padraig Pearse had by now qualified as a teacher and had himself assumed the position of headmaster after the execution of the previous incumbent.

He was a keen hurler and footballer and on this Sunday afternoon Burke's Dublin county team was set to take on the might of Tipperary for a fundraising challenge match.

On the way to the big game his mind would have been on the man he would have to mark on the pitch – the big Tipp captain and right full-back Michael Hogan.

Although an associate of Michael Collins' Number 2, Harry Boland, it is unlikely that Burke would have known that Collins' "squad" had assassinated 12 members of the "Cairo Gang" – undercover British intelligence officers in Dublin – early that morning.

Shortly after throw-in, a plane flew overhead and dropped a flare. With that, a force of Auxiliaries and Black and Tans burst into the ground from the canal end, opening fire on the players and the 10,000 people in the crowd.

By his eyewitness account, Hogan, himself and one other player were the last to be caught on the open pitch under fire and they were crawling and rolling towards the side lines when Hogan was hit.

A crowd member from Wexford who ran out to give him contrition was then shot dead.

Burke recalled bullets hitting the wooden bollards ahead of him before he left the parameters of the pitch. The Hogan Stand is today named after him. There in relative safety he attempted in vain to borrow a coat to cover his team colours. Outside he was apprehended by the British and beaten up.

Frank Burke passed away in the 1990s having given his eyewitness account of the day in which 14 died in Croke Park to historians. Now his lifelong home at 12 Willbrook in Whitechurch, Rathfarnham, has just been placed on the market and is expected to fetch €950,000 through Savills.

The road is itself steeped in Irish history – it was originally called Military Road and was constructed in the early 19th Century by the British army in order to access the Dublin/Wicklow hills and finally root the rebels out of them. The part red-brick houses were built by the Walker family, long-time owners of the Yellow House Pub, who rented them out until quite recently.

At 2,012 sq ft this is a sizeable family home. The agents say the property was constructed in 1904 although the owners believe it was later in the 1920s and the semi-detached has many of the features characterised by the pre-war period when Edwardian design was still in use – the veranda, large bay windows, high ceilings, original fireplaces, coving, and stained glass windows are some of the many touches typical of the era.

A modern addition for the time was the garage as cars were beginning to make an appearance in Dublin.

Accommodation briefly comprises entrance porch, hall with guest WC, drawing room, dining room, and kitchen/breakfast room at ground-floor level. The first floor extends to three bedrooms with a master and a family bathroom on the return.

A staircase leads to the second floor with an original bedroom and an attic storage space, which is ideal for conversion into another bathroom.

Following an extensive refurbishment in the mid 2000s, No 12 comes to the market in walk-in condition and requires little work.

The garden is south facing and was recently returfed by the current owners, the McKenna family, as well as being laid out in shrubs. There's a deck area for alfresco dining.

The house is located within reach of Rathfarnham village with its shops, pubs and amenities and the house is within reach of bigger shopping centres at Nutgrove, Dundrum and Rathfarnham. Parks include Marley and St Enda's, where the former Pearse school that Frank Burke ran has now become a museum.

Owner Cormac McKenna, who has enjoyed the history associated with his home, says he's hoping to bag a bigger interest in County Wicklow – a former home of Eamon de Valera.

  • Further details from Savills (01-6181300).

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