Taken from Limerick Chronicle 1876 - Courtesy of Jim Ryan, Gurtavalla.
On Thursday night the tenants of Richard Bourke, Esq., Thornfield, on his property at Gurtavalla, and his many warm admirers on the adjoining estates, assembled at the residence of Mr. Thaddeus Gallagher to do honour to Ulick J. Bourke, Esq., on the occasion of his recent marriage with Miss E. Vandeleur. Mr. Gallagher's house was neatly decorated and well illuminated, and in front, at a safe distance, an enormous bonfire burned fiercely, sending immense volumes of flames to a great height in the air. From three to four hundred people were present, who conducted themselves throughout the proceedings with the strictest propriety.
In giving the toast of the evening - the health of the bride and bridegroom -Mr. Patrick Ryan (Francis) said his observations would be confined to Mr. Bourke, senior, father of the bridegroom.
They all knew of his excellence as a landlord, his rare abilities as a scholar and his zeal and liberality in promoting the education of the humbler classes.
He (Mr. Ryan) will recollect the fruitless efforts of their late worthy parish priest, Fr. Hickey, to obtain a site for a school anywhere near Gurtavalla, until he applied to Mr.Bourke, who promptly gave not a site, but a "house ready wrought", thus bringing immediate relief to the famishing young intellect of the future men and women of the district, and stemming to a very great extent the flood of ignorance to which must be mainly attributed the unfortunate state of things for a long time existing amongst them (cheers).
Not content with affording facilities for educating their children, Mr. Bourke also elected himself successfully to relieve them from the galling police tax imposed on the district on account of a lamentable occurrence with which the people were in no way connected (cheers).
From these considerations, and from many others he (Mr. Ryan) felt they would be grossly neglecting their duty did they allow the present opportunity to pass without testifying their gratitude to, and high regard for, a gentleman who has so often and so disinterestedly expressed his powerful influence in their behalf (cheers).
Mr. Gallagher also addressed the meeting in suitable terms, and a few other appropriate speeches having been delivered and kept up to an advanced hour.
Compiled and researched by John O'Shaughnessy.