Saturday, January 13, 2018

John Burke's Cane

On stage he was known as Dublin Dan, the premier Irish comedian of American music halls in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Born as John M. Burke, he was a descendant of the great Guinness brewing family, he left his studies at Oxford to come to Boston to create a troupe of actors, singers, and dancers. This was the very dawn of the vaudeville age. Burke’s was not the only Irish musicale troupe of the time. Among others were MacEvoy’s Hibernicon, Harrigan’s Hibernian Company, and McGill & Strong’s Minstrel Company. Cities like Lowell had their “museums”, music halls, and opera houses. Some were quite legitimate, but most catered to the working class with earthy lyrics set to popular tunes. Burke’s career began in Boston in the 1870s making the Keith’s Theater circuit which evolved into engagements across the country such as New York City and Philadelphia. He married one of his troupe members who went by the stage name “Mrs. Annie Irish.” His advertisements which have survived give us an idea of what his show must have been like. For a mere 35 cents, 25 cents for children and 75 cents for orchestra seats, Dublin Dan would transform his audience from their lives of hard labor and meager living conditions to the lakes and fields of Erin. Through a series of hand painted tableaux spectators could see “a fresh and attractive array of novettes” along with the “Beauties of Ireland” and “the Lovely Lakes of Killarney.” A group of musicians and singers accompanied the scenes. Each took on a different character during the performance. “Erin’s Queen of Song, Miss Annie F Irish played the “Banshee Dearg.” There was also Patrick Fay as Shaun the Piper, James Shannon as the Coward Calanny, and B. Murray as the tourist. Of course the producer and director of Tableaux of Erin was John M. Burke as Dublin Dan the Guide. Burke’s advertisement claimed his show demonstrated the best of “minstrelity.” While Burke claimed to have made a world tour, he was known to have made several visits to Lowell, where he appeared at the Huntington Hall and the Music Hall. A reviewer of one of his performances in Lowell noted the admiration of the audience for Miss Annie Irish for her rendition of Moore’s Irish melodies. (Moore wrote The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer.) It also noted the “active Irish boy” with his songs and closing with a “great acrobatic ending” which demanded an encore. The finale of the program was a jig performed by Dublin Dan and Miss Irish. Burke’s connection in Lowell does not end here. Many years ago in the attic of a house on Mt. Washington Street in the Acre was
found a gold topped cane. Inscribed on the cane is “Presented to John M. Burke, Irish Comedian, Feb 29th 73 by the Blumenthal Opera House, Prop. .... Wilkes-Barre USA.” The house at one time was owned by a family whose last name was Burke. Coincidence? Family member? No one knows for sure. Burke died at the age of 30 at the “Sisters’ Hospital” in Philadelphia. His wife quickly remarried another vaudeville performer. She and her children remained on stage for many years continuing Burke’s love of the theater. (Many thanks to Bill Mitchell for finding the cane and asking the right questions.)

7 comments:

  1. Cynthia G FujikawaMarch 18, 2020 at 1:11 AM

    Hi Lowell,

    You've stumbled upon my family. The cane is an interesting detail I was not aware of!

    I was unaware that Annie Irish remarried. I wonder if it may have been confused with her stage name and alter ego, "Mrs. Harry Hall." Making her Annie Hall....food for though. Please keep in touch: https://www.facebook.com/cyndy.fujikawa

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Please see my recent entry on the blog concerning Burke. I am not on any social media All the best steve

      Delete
  2. Hello,

    I was happy to come across this site when I was doing some research on John Burke. I have an unrecorded sheet music score referring to him. FYI, there are other Irish-Lowell connections. From my collection on the Irish in America, which I have given to the National Library of Ireland are the following:

    (Sheet music). O’Connell, C. C., arranger, fl. 1870’s. I am an Irish Boy or Dan Donohoe is my name. Arranged by C. C. O’Connell. Boston: White & Goullaud, 86 Tremont Street, 1871, 5 pages. Charles H. Crosby & Company of 4-6 Water Street, Boston did the lithograph. Other distributors listed are W. A. Pond & Company in New York; Lyon and Healy in Chicago; and J. E. Winner in Philadelphia. Large format score with edge repaired. Lithograph of Irish man in traditional dress carrying a whip for a jaunting car with the Blarney Castle? in the background. Could be from a theatrical backdrop. The image occupies most of the cover, well done. May be from a photograph. Typical wear and tear considering the age and nature of the production.
    Caption on cover: “Favorite Songs Sung by the Celebrated Irish Comedian, John M. Burke. With McGill and Strong’s Mirror of Ireland”. With list of four songs.
    Note: There is a reference to the Mirror of Ireland, “Mirror of Ireland ... Donnybrook fair 1850 McGill & Strong's mirror of Ireland 85 beautiful scenes and a talented troupe of Irish comedians” published by the Readex Corporation in 2005 in its American broadsides and ephemera,1706-1900. First series, no. 24024. Appears to have been issued in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1872 and performed at the Mechanics Hall. The performers include: Bryan O'Lynn; G.B. Harcourt; Sadie McGill; Julia Butler; O.T. Arnold. The performance includes: Mirror of Ireland; Troupe of Irish comedians; Killarney. No mention of Burke.
    A very scarce item with no copy located on OCLC.
    I will have a copy made of the score and send it to this site.

    (Sheet music). O’Connell, C. C., arranger, fl. 1870’s. I am an Irish Boy or Dan Donohoe is my name. Arranged by C. C. O’Connell. Boston: White & Goullaud, 86 Tremont Street, 1871, 5 pages. Charles H. Crosby & Company of 4-6 Water Street, Boston did the lithograph. Other distributors listed are W. A. Pond & Company in New York; Lyon and Healy in Chicago; and J. E. Winner in Philadelphia. Large format score with edge repaired. Lithograph of Irish man in traditional dress carrying a whip for a jaunting car with the Blarney Castle? in the background. Could be from a theatrical backdrop. The image occupies most of the cover, well done. May be from a photograph. Typical wear and tear considering the age and nature of the production.
    Caption on cover: “Favorite Songs Sung by the Celebrated Irish Comedian, John M. Burke. With McGill and Strong’s Mirror of Ireland”. With list of four songs.
    Note: There is a reference to the Mirror of Ireland, “Mirror of Ireland ... Donnybrook fair 1850 McGill & Strong's mirror of Ireland 85 beautiful scenes and a talented troupe of Irish comedians” published by the Readex Corporation in 2005 in its American broadsides and ephemera,1706-1900. First series, no. 24024. Appears to have been issued in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1872 and performed at the Mechanics Hall. The performers include: Bryan O'Lynn; G.B. Harcourt; Sadie McGill; Julia Butler; O.T. Arnold. The performance includes: Mirror of Ireland; Troupe of Irish comedians; Killarney. No mention of Burke.
    A very scarce item with no copy located on OCLC. I will have a copy made of this and send it to this site. Best wishes, Steve Griffin PS message was too long so will send two



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  3. Flaherty, Doug. Digging into ourselves: poems. Madison, Wisconsin: Quixote Press, 1970, 27 poems on 28 unnumbered pages. Paperback, yellow paper cover with illustrated cover, little dusty. Measures 6 ½” x 8 ½”. Originally sold for $1.00
    Flaherty, Doug. Digging into ourselves: poems. Oshkosh, Wisconsin: Road Runner Press, 1970, 14 poems on 20 unnumbered pages. Paperback, blue paper cover, cover as poorly illustrated by Alex Salimbeni as the other edition. Measures 4 ½” x 6 ¾”. Originally sold for 35 cents.
    These books would be a bibliographer’s nightmare. Even though they share the same author, the same title, and the same year of publication they are not the same book. They only share seven poems and then not necessarily the same text. For example, Toby Tobias Dog is much longer in the Road Runner Press chapbook edition. Flaherty founded the Road Runner Press, which is the copy of the Digging into ourselves that Flaherty’s school, the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, has.
    Doug Flaherty, born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1939, founded Road Apple Review, a literary quarterly which published from 1968-1978. He also founded Wolf Angel Press and was a twenty-year faculty advisor to the Wisconsin Review at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He retired as Professor Emeritus, in 2001 from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
    Flaherty, Doug. Good thief come home: selected poems, 1970-1990. Austin, Texas: Prickly Pear Press, 1990, 54 unnumbered pages. Paperback. Spine slightly sunned with a reading crease and faint corner crease to the front wrap. Inscribed by Flaherty on the half title page: “For Beverly, the black hat will point you home. The north wind cannot disturb. Best, Doug Flaherty, 4.17.90”.
    Flaherty, Doug. Love-tangle of roots. Ithaca, New York: Ithaca House, 1977, 65p. Paperback. Good condition.
    Flaherty, Doug. Weaving a slow dream of hands. Dublin: Seafront Press, 1972, 23p, paperback. Repaired with scotch tape at bottom of spine, good copy overall. Inscribed on front free endpaper: “For Paul, who reads images from the face of words. Best to you, on the coast. Doug Flaherty”.
    "This book was set by hand in ten point Times Roman and printed on Glastonbury antique laid paper in a limited edition of 600 copies: 550 bound in paper, of which, 200 have been hand-sewn, numbered and signed; 50 bound in boards, numbered, signed, and inscribed by the author."
    (Prize fighting). (Ward, Micky). Halloran, Bob. Irish thunder: the hard life & times of Micky Ward. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2008, 289p, index. New in dust jacket.
    Halloran, a sportswriter and technical consultant for the 2010 motion picture, The Fighter, portrays the boxer from Lowell, Mass., who became the 2002 world light welterweight champion -- "Irish" Micky Ward. "Recounts Ward's rise to hero status, his rivalry with his imprisoned brother, and the negotiations, betrayals, and drugs that shaped the wild youth who ultimately became a nationally respected boxer. Ward's dramatic victories inside the ring are depicted in gripping detail, but it is his victory outside the ring that inspires."
    (Irish in Lowell, Mass.). McKean, David Duncan. Lowell Irish. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2016, 126p, bib, index, illustrations. New paperbound.
    Lowell played a prominent role in the lives of Irish Americans, especially in the nineteenth century.
    Meagher, Timothy J. (ed). From paddy to studs. Irish-American communities in the turn of the century era, 1880 to 1920. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986, xiv, 202p, bib, index. Fine.
    Good essays on such communities as St. Louis, Worcester, Lowell, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Flaherty, Doug. Digging into ourselves: poems. Madison, Wisconsin: Quixote Press, 1970, 27 poems on 28 unnumbered pages. Paperback, yellow paper cover with illustrated cover, little dusty. Measures 6 ½” x 8 ½”. Originally sold for $1.00
    Flaherty, Doug. Digging into ourselves: poems. Oshkosh, Wisconsin: Road Runner Press, 1970, 14 poems on 20 unnumbered pages. Paperback, blue paper cover, cover as poorly illustrated by Alex Salimbeni as the other edition. Measures 4 ½” x 6 ¾”. Originally sold for 35 cents.
    These books would be a bibliographer’s nightmare. Even though they share the same author, the same title, and the same year of publication they are not the same book. They only share seven poems and then not necessarily the same text. For example, Toby Tobias Dog is much longer in the Road Runner Press chapbook edition. Flaherty founded the Road Runner Press, which is the copy of the Digging into ourselves that Flaherty’s school, the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, has.
    Doug Flaherty, born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1939, founded Road Apple Review, a literary quarterly which published from 1968-1978. He also founded Wolf Angel Press and was a twenty-year faculty advisor to the Wisconsin Review at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He retired as Professor Emeritus, in 2001 from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
    Flaherty, Doug. Good thief come home: selected poems, 1970-1990. Austin, Texas: Prickly Pear Press, 1990, 54 unnumbered pages. Paperback. Spine slightly sunned with a reading crease and faint corner crease to the front wrap. Inscribed by Flaherty on the half title page: “For Beverly, the black hat will point you home. The north wind cannot disturb. Best, Doug Flaherty, 4.17.90”.
    Flaherty, Doug. Love-tangle of roots. Ithaca, New York: Ithaca House, 1977, 65p. Paperback. Good condition.
    Flaherty, Doug. Weaving a slow dream of hands. Dublin: Seafront Press, 1972, 23p, paperback. Repaired with scotch tape at bottom of spine, good copy overall. Inscribed on front free endpaper: “For Paul, who reads images from the face of words. Best to you, on the coast. Doug Flaherty”.
    "This book was set by hand in ten point Times Roman and printed on Glastonbury antique laid paper in a limited edition of 600 copies: 550 bound in paper, of which, 200 have been hand-sewn, numbered and signed; 50 bound in boards, numbered, signed, and inscribed by the author."
    (Prize fighting). (Ward, Micky). Halloran, Bob. Irish thunder: the hard life & times of Micky Ward. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2008, 289p, index. New in dust jacket.
    Halloran, a sportswriter and technical consultant for the 2010 motion picture, The Fighter, portrays the boxer from Lowell, Mass., who became the 2002 world light welterweight champion -- "Irish" Micky Ward. "Recounts Ward's rise to hero status, his rivalry with his imprisoned brother, and the negotiations, betrayals, and drugs that shaped the wild youth who ultimately became a nationally respected boxer. Ward's dramatic victories inside the ring are depicted in gripping detail, but it is his victory outside the ring that inspires."
    (Irish in Lowell, Mass.). McKean, David Duncan. Lowell Irish. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2016, 126p, bib, index, illustrations. New paperbound.
    Lowell played a prominent role in the lives of Irish Americans, especially in the nineteenth century.
    Meagher, Timothy J. (ed). From paddy to studs. Irish-American communities in the turn of the century era, 1880 to 1920. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986, xiv, 202p, bib, index. Fine.
    Good essays on such communities as St. Louis, Worcester, Lowell, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This completes the original message
    (Irish in Lowell, Mass.). Mitchell, Brian C. The paddy camps: the Irish of Lowell, 1821-61. University of Illinois Press, 1988, xiii, 247p, bib, index, photos. Fine in dust jacket. Review slip laid in.
    During the mid-nineteenth century, Lowell’s Irish population was among the largest in New England. Lowell was the largest of the antebellum mill towns. The Irish had lived in the vicinity since the 1790’s and by the 1830’s had formed a permanent settlement, a rough collection of “paddy camps” that kept them separated from the planned Yankee mill village. The cordial relationship abruptly ended when the mills replaced their female Yankee workers with the Irish.

    (Irish in Lowell, Mass.). O’Dwyer, George F. The Irish Catholic genesis of Lowell. Revised edition. Lowell: Lowell Museum, 1981, 80p, paperbound. This is a reprint of the very scarce 1920 edition. Fine condition.
    Very useful history of this important, and now forgotten, Irish community.
    (Irish in Lowell, Mass.) St. Patrick’s Church. 150th Anniversary, Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1831-1981. Lowell: St. Patrick’s, 1981, 68p, photos, paperbound. Fine copy.
    St. Patrick’s was the first Catholic church in Lowell, built to serve the needs of the Irish. Many of the early settlers were Irish speakers; Mass was said by an Irish-speaking priest. This celebratory commemoration of the founding consists mainly of ads from the sponsors. I would assume that the Irish-speaker, Fr. Jeremiah O’Callaghan, 1780-186, probably celebrated Mass there.

    Robinson, William Erigena, 1814-1892. “W. E. Robinson, to the Citizens of Lowell”. Dated November 22, 1851, measures 9” x 13”. In fine shape, especially considering the ephemeral nature of the item.

    Robinson, a very important but largely forgotten leader in the Irish-American community, addresses the citizens of Lowell, Mass., criticizing the Loco Foco party for rejecting a qualified candidate simple because he was an Irish-Catholic.

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