Bourke, Patrick (1899–1982), civil servant and banker, was born 24 August 1899 in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, third child and elder son of the five children of James Bourke, grocer and publican, and his wife Hanora. In 1906 the family moved to Oxmantown Road, Dublin, in straitened circumstances: Bourke's father had lost his business and obtained a job with Dublin corporation. Patrick was educated at St Paul's CBS and joined the Irish Land Commission as a boy clerk in 1914.
In 1916 Bourke entered the Inland Revenue, where promotion followed quickly. While working full-time he registered in 1918 for a BA degree (history and political science) at TCD, after UCD refused him admission on the grounds that he could not attend all the prescribed lectures. To Bourke, such an attitude portrayed the institution as ‘neither national nor a university’. During an outstanding undergraduate career he was elected a foundation scholar (1920) and served as auditor of the Gaelic Society (1922–3) and the College Historical Society (1923–4), as well as winning four gold and three silver medals. He graduated BA in 1922 and MA in 1925. Having entered the King's Inns in 1923 he took first place in the final examinations and was awarded the John Brooke scholarship. Although he was called to the bar in the Michaelmas term of 1929, he never practised.
In 1922, at the age of twenty-two, Bourke was appointed an inspector of taxes, possibly the youngest age at which the rank of full inspector was achieved. Two years later he approached the Provincial Bank of Ireland, offering to establish an income tax department. His offer was initially declined, but the bank reconsidered and duly appointed him to the post. After a short time his wider capabilities were recognised, and in 1928 he was assigned to the bank's general service, where he had a period of training in banking law and practice. Bourke acquired practical experience at a number of branches and then spent two years at the bank's London office (April 1931–1933), where he studied the London money market at first hand. Following his return to Ireland he was appointed assistant to the chief officer (general manager) in June 1933 and later was made chief officer (1936–64). This was a remarkable achievement at a time of snail-like promotion. In 1941 Bourke became the first catholic director (1941–65) on the board of the Provincial Bank of Ireland since 1850.
During Bourke's career the Irish banking market was overcrowded to the extent that in 1939 the Irish banks’ standing committee agreed to the closure of twenty-five branches. At the same time the banking culture was conservative and slow to adapt to market forces, leaving it dangerously exposed as the Irish economy began to open up. The increase in economic growth in the later 1950s and early 1960s benefited the banks but also highlighted their inadequacies. The need to consolidate led to merger talks between the Munster and Leinster Bank, the Royal Bank of Ireland, and the Provincial Bank of Ireland, whose team was led by Bourke. The negotiations were successful, and in September 1966 Allied Irish Banks was formed as a holding company for the original three banks with assets of nearly £250 million (1966). The original banks continued to trade under their own names until 1972.
Bourke was a director of AIB (1966–71), Allied Irish Investment Bank (AIIB), Allied Irish Nominees (NI), and the Irish clearing house; he retired from the main board of AIB in 1971 and the boards of AIIB and Allied Irish Finance in 1976. A banking director of the Central Bank of Ireland (1955–75), he also served as a director of the Industrial Finance Company (NI), and the Mercantile Credit Company of Ireland Ltd. He was president of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (1965–8) and the Institute of Bankers in Ireland (1962–3), fellow of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland, and vice-president of TCD Historical Society (1960). A very private man, Bourke could appear stuffy and aloof. He was a member of many clubs, an enthusiastic skier, played golf, swam at the Forty Foot at Sandycove and was a keen hill walker. He was well read in religion, economics and history, and included G. K. Chesterton among his favourite authors.
In January 1932 Bourke married Catherine Hilda (d. May 1961), the daughter of Christopher and Catherine McGuigan of Belfast. They had three sons and two daughters and lived at Moyola, Bushy Park Gardens, Dublin. His brother John was registrar of the NUI (1972–9), while his brother Edward was the Dublin city engineer (1950–71) and his sister Margaret held a senior position in the British civil service (Somerset House). Godfather to Dermot Nally, secretary to the government, Bourke was close friends with Bill Nally of the Land Commission, J. P. Beddy (qv), and Alec Bayne (qv). He died 9 August 1982 at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, and was buried at Deansgrange cemetery.