To mark the start of Heritage Week 2023, Limerick Civic Trust & Historic Houses of Ireland are hosting the official opening of an exhibition celebrating the life and legacy in Ireland and Australia of Richard Bourke, at 3 pm on Saturday, 12 August, the People’s Museum, Perry Square, Limerick.
A Governor of Australia and founder of the city of Melbourne, Gen. Sir Richard Bourke bought Thornfield House Castleconnell in 1810. In
1823, he opened the non-denominational Ahane National School on the estate as he believed children of all Christian faiths should be educated together. The Constitution of the School now forms part of the foundation of Australian Education.
Bourke later transferred Ahane School to the Irish National School Board; a trust that educated Ireland’s working class and reduced sectarian conflict on a larger scale. In his retirement, Bourke helped establish a model agricultural school in Limerick, later Mungret College.
A renowned promoter of national education in Ireland and Australia, a liberal lawmaker, and convict emancipator, the Limerick man was commemorated in bronze and stone in Australia’s first public monument at New South Wales’ public library in 1842.
Thornfield House is a proud member of Historic Houses of Ireland and the Bourke exhibition was curated by its present owner, Seamus Flynn. The opening of the exhibition will be attended by Historic Houses of Ireland chairman, Thomas Cosby.
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