Burke, Dominic (c.1622–1704), Dominican theologian and bishop of Elphin, one of the Clanricard Burkes of Cahirkinmonivy, Craughwell, Co. Galway, made his religious profession in 1648 at either Coillascail or Brosk near Athenry. Shortly afterwards he set out for Spain, but was captured by the English at sea and imprisoned at Kinsale. He escaped by jumping into the mudflats left by the outgoing tide, and hid in a neighbouring wood without food or water for two days. He was given refuge, clothes, and money by a hospitable catholic gentleman of the Roche family, and he eventually returned to his mother's house; despite her opposition, he took ship again at Galway and eventually reached Spain, where he studied for six years at Segovia.
By 1655 he had passed to Italy, where he lived at Pesaro (1657), Treviso (1660), Venice, Milan (1667), and Bosco Marengo near Alessandria, sometimes as a novice master. Describing himself in 1661 as a lector in theology, aged thirty-eight, and now appointed chaplain, confessor, and theologian to the Venetian ambassador in London, he petitioned Pope Innocent X to grant him the status and faculties of an apostolic missionary; he already had the recommendation of Giacopo Altoviti, papal nuncio to Venice. Propaganda Fide wrote to the Dominican general, telling him to permit Burke to travel to London, but to forbid him to engage in any ministry beyond that required by his office as Venetian chaplain. It is not clear if he took up this post. Having spent sixteen years in Italy, he left Rome in 1671, with a recommendation to Thomas Howard OP, vicar general of the English Dominicans, from Giovanni Battista de Marinis, master general of the order, who was unaware that Burke was a bishop-elect. Burke was secretly consecrated bishop of Elphin at Ghent, on 23 November 1671, in succession to Boetius MacEgan (qv) OFM.
The following year Burke submitted a report to Carlo Francesco Airoldi, internuncio in Brussels, on the state of his diocese. During a vacancy of twenty-three years certain disorders in administration had arisen, which he had sought to remedy. He submitted a further three letters to Cardinal Marescotti of Propaganda Fide in 1674, giving full particulars, and involving clerical personnel of Tuam, Clonfert, and Clonmacnoise. With the resurgence of persecution in 1680, a price of £200 sterling was placed on his head by the lord lieutenant, James Butler (qv), 1st duke of Ormond, and his privy council, which sent Burke into hiding. The imprisoned Oliver Plunkett (qv), archbishop of Armagh, who considered Burke ‘most imprudent in word and deed’ (Hanley, Letters, 367), frequently sent him warnings concerning the means proposed for his apprehension by the castle authorities. Deprived of his revenues by the protestant clergy and unwilling to be a financial burden on his own clergy and people, Burke rented a large farm (which he judiciously improved with buildings, fences, and tree plantations) from his near relative, William Burke (qv), 7th earl of Clanricard and briefly lord justice of Ireland (August 1687). With the onset of the protestant rebellion against James II (qv), Burke was forced to transfer his domicile to Galway city. He participated in the Dublin parliament of James II (7 May–18 July 1689), where he proved to be an energetic defender of the religious orders and enjoyed high esteem with King James and Queen Mary of Modena. Many of the parish priests who conformed with the Registration Act in 1704 were ordained by him around this time, before he went into exile in France in 1691. Burke was at Paris from 1692; he declined to remain at an abbey offered to him by Louis XIV and went instead to Louvain. Many of his letters to Propaganda Fide (1692–1701) survive. On account of the dilapidation of the Irish Dominican college of Holy Cross at Louvain, he lived with the Franciscans of St Anthony's from 1695 until his death in 1704, as is recorded by the Latin epitaph on his marble tombstone in the choir of the Franciscan college chapel.
Burke was the author of Acta quaedam heterodoxi parlamenti Hiberniae praesertim de expulsione cleri cum praefatione ad orthodoxos (Louvain, 1697), concerning the Williamite political usurpation, the expulsion of catholic clergy, and anti-catholic parliamentary provisions, all of which threatened to extirpate the catholic faith in Ireland. He personally ensured the widespread distribution of his opusculum, especially among the catholic plenipotentiaries participating at the peace of Ryswick near Delft in 1697. His Libellum supplicem ad Innocentium XII pontificem maximum (Louvain, 1697), gives a moving account of the deplorable situation of catholics in Ireland and of those in enforced continental exile. So affected was the pope that he issued two briefs (10 June 1698, 6 June 1699) to catholic Europe, appealing for alms and support for the catholics of Ireland. He also sent a large sum of money to relieve the penury of Irish exiles gathered at St Germain near Paris.
Bishop Burke was cousin to the younger Dominic Burke of the Dominican house at Athenry, who studied at Avila and at Madrid (Atocha), and died at the priory of the Holy Passion at Madrid in 1675.