Cork Honours Christian Brother

The people of Cork honoured the Christian Brother who has been dubbed the father of vocational education in Ireland. 

A spectacular laser show took place in the Cork City skies to honour Brother James Burke with the event running in tandem with Cork City's North Monastery School's 200th anniversary celebrations. 

Brother Burke was born in Limerick in 1833 and entered the Christian Brothers at the age of 18.  In 1852 he took up a teaching post at North Monastery in Cork City and while there made it a scientific centre of excellence. 

To mark his memory a special laser show took place on the grounds of North Monastery on Friday, January 14 at 4:30pm with a special lecture by Bord Gáis CEO and North Monastery past pupil John Mullins. 

The laser show was a modern re-enactment of a stunning 1877 light show that he created to demonstrate the potential of electricity.  His creation saw him connect a battery of 120 callan cells to a massive lamp he mounted to the front wall of the monastery and then he flashed beams of light into the sky. 

His work was used to celebrate the jubilee of Pope Pius IX and took place two years before Thomas Edison was credited with having invented the light bulb. 

Brother Burke's discoveries were generally credited with pioneering vocational and practical education in Ireland and later subjects such as physics, astronomy, navigation and trigonometry were introduced to the Post Primary curriculum. 

He later became principal of the famous Cork school and rugby nursery Christian Brothers College and in 1902, he was appointed as the first President of the Cork Science Association. 

He died in 1904 after been knocked down by a horse while crossing Patrick Street. 

Brother Burke was accorded a public funeral with a procession through the streets of Cork.  He is buried at the cemetery at North Monastery



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