Tom Burke

RIP - 6th October 2021

The PPAI is saddened to hear of the death of our beloved colleague and former Irish Independent photographer Tom Burke, often to be seen outside Leinster House over the years. Condolences to his family. RIP

Tom has been remembered as a “true professional and a gentleman” whose contribution to political journalism was unrivalled.

He joined the staff of the Irish Independent in 1967 and has left behind an extraordinary body of work from over 50 years in journalism.

From US Presidents to iconic figures including Mother Theresa and former South African President Nelson Mandela, he was there to record history in the making.

Tom also covered the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the course of his distinguished career.

But it was his work capturing the daily comings and goings outside Leinster House that made him a familiar figure to so many.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, speaking in Slovenia, where he was attending an informal EU Summit, said that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Tom’s death - (via Twitter - "Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Tom Burke, the legendary Irish Independent photographer.  A thorough professional, I have so many fond memories of Tom.  He was a great character around the gates of Leinster House, and a true gentleman. He will be sorely missed"

'Tom Burke: A legendary photographer who was a true professional and a gentleman'

'In Pictures: 12 moments in time captured by legendary Irish Independent photographer Tom Burke'

‘An extraordinary talent that touched everyone’ – tributes to photographer Tom Burke at funeral

Up to 40 photographers lay their cameras down in a mark of respect to the photojournalist who died this week

The remains of former Irish Independent photographer Tom Burke await their final journey to Glencullen cemetery following his funeral mass in the Church of St John The Evangelist, Ballinteer PIC Gerry Mooney

The remains of former Irish Independent photographer Tom Burke await their final journey to Glencullen cemetery following his funeral mass in the Church of St John The Evangelist, Ballinteer PIC Gerry Mooney



Tom at work, in pictures from PPAI members

Pic: Garry O'Neill - Why carry one camera, when you can hang three around your neck ?

...Only Burkie, R.I.P kiddo.


Pic: Don Mac Monagle - Very sad to hear this about our dear friend Tom...

the pipe smokin, tea drinkin, 'just one more' and as ray said his mantra "thats the one"

.......and a true Dub


Pic: Nick Bradshaw - This was on Campaign trail, January 2020

- I was there to photograph Shane Ross and Tom appeared


Pic: Naoise Culhane - So sad to hear this, always a great character and very helpful.

Spent many an hour with the man and always enjoyed it.

RIP Burkey.....Here's one from 2017 looking as dapper as ever!


Pic: David Conachy


Pic: Maxwells



Eircell Awards night


Memorial card


Irish Independent 7th October 2021


Sunday Independent, 10th October 2021 (Pic: Fergal Phillips)

Obituary - Sunday Independent, 10th October 2021 (Pics: David Conachy)

Obituary: Tom Burke, press photographer whose career spanned half a century and was marked by sheer determination, loyalty and compassion

Irish Times, Monday 11th October 2021 (Pic: Fergal Phillips)


Comments on Twitter - click on a post to see larger, or run as a slide show


'That's the Shot Kiddo' - Modern Ireland through the lens of Tom Burke'


Tributes to Tom Burke led by Leas Ceann Comhairle and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar in Dáil Éireann - Thursday 7th October


Leas Ceann Comhairle

Roimh tús an ghnó seo, ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoi Tom Burke. Is cinnte gur chuala formhór na dTeachtaí Dála gur chuaigh Tom Burke ar shlí na fírinne inné. Ba mhaith liom comhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh le Mel, bean chéile Tom, leis na gasúir, Paul, Aidan, Yvonne, Derek agus Elaine, agus leis an seisear garpháistí. I am sure all Members have heard that Mr. Tom Burke died yesterday. On behalf of the House, I extend our sympathies to his wife, Mel, his five children, Paul, Aidan, Yvonne, Derek and Elaine, and his six grandchildren.

Tom's career as a photographer spanned an incredible 50 years, during which time he covered both the daily national and international news for the Irish Independent. For many of us, however, he will always be associated with Leinster House. It was his beat and he was certainly a semi-permanent fixture outside Kildare Street for decades. He was the first friendly face I saw when I was elected in February 2016. He enjoyed a unique relationship with Deputies and Senators and had a great respect for elected representatives, and that respect was mutual. He also enjoyed a cordial relationship with all staff and was a welcoming presence for many workers and visitors. Tom was also a close friend of many members of the Oireachtas press gallery. The reaction to his passing is reflective of the standing and respect he had earned and deserved. It is also important to highlight the legacy Tom leaves behind in his record of parliamentary politics, an integral part of political journalism but one not often given the value it deserves. Ba mhaith liom a rá, ar ár son go léir, ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

I join the Leas-Cheann Comhairle in paying my respects to Tom Burke, who was a truly fine man. He was one of the first people I met and got to know when I became a Member of this House. He was a feature of Irish politics and photojournalism, and I was really sorry to hear yesterday that he had passed away. I extend to his family and friends the Government's condolences and those of my party.

Deputy Richard Boyd-Barrett

I, too, wish to pass on my condolences to the friends and family of Tom Burke. Tom was a bright presence outside the gates of Leinster House and just a very nice person. He will be sadly missed here, although more so, obviously, by his family and friends.

Deputy David Cullinane

I will start, if I may, by offering my condolences to the family of Tom Burke, his wife and his children. He was an ever-present character, in the best possible sense, around Leinster House and he will be missed not only by his family but also by people in Leinster House.

Deputy Ged Nash

I would like to be associated with the Tánaiste's remarks in regard to the late Tom Burke. "Legend" is a much-overused word but it is one that we can appropriately apply to Tom. Our sympathies go to his family and media comrades.


Comments from PPAI members

Billy Stickland - Very sad.. one of the real old school photographers.. fearless when it came to getting the pic.. from everyone at Inpho we send our condolences to Mel and their family

Archie Carron - Awe that’s very sad, an absolute gentleman, always enjoyed his company, he’ll be sorely missed

Crispin Rodwell - How very sad, one of the most colorful characters in the industry. RIP Tom. He was great friends with Charlie Haughey. After Ciaran Haughey's wedding in St. Nicholas of Myra church in Kinsealy in 1992 five or six of us were invited back across the road to Abbeville where the reception was to take place. We were ushered into the library, at the front of the house, while the wedding guests all went through to the reception towards the back of the house. After a while Charlie came into the library to pour us all a glass of wine but Tom took him by the arm and told him to take the wine away and to come back with a bottle of whatever the rest of the guests were being served. Minutes later CJ reappeared with a bottle of Victoire champagne and our glasses were duly filled. There is a pic somewhere, it may have been used here at some stage, of us in the library.

Ray McManus - “That’s the one”. May Tom rest in peace. Nice man gone too soon.

Eric Luke - Hard to believe. When you’re so used to seeing him in action, always present, and now gone from us. Very sad. RIP Tom

Gary Ashe - Very saddened to hear this RIP Tom

Johnny Bambury - That’s a sad loss, always a gent and though I haven’t met him on the Plinth in a long time, he always welcomed me with a warm smile and kind words. RIP Tom, condolences to Mel and all the family.

Sasko Lazarov - Tom was the first person I worked with on the Mahon tribunal. He was very good to me and teaching me the tricks of how to get the guys. Hahhaha ohhh I’ll have tom always in my heart.

Mark Stedman - Tom was an institution unto himself with his golf umbrella in tow, a true gentleman for sure. There should be a State funeral and a plaque outside the Dail.

Niall Carson - I really want to give Tom the photographers send off he deserves. Absolutely lovely man who is enjoyed every encounter with.

Sam Boal - Tom was always the guy you needed around to tell you who was who around the Dail.  I worked along side him for many years until he retired outside the Dail, he would always say 'how ya kido', and always tell me of his wonderful walks in the dublin mtns before work, his nice schedule at the indo, or about his family. And topped off with editing in Buswells hotel.

Paul Nicholls - Very very sad. Tom was legend

Brian Lawless - Sad to hear this news from his colleague Marc Condren. Appropriate we were at the gates of Leinster house at the time. Always think of Burkey when I arrive at the gates, always enjoyed his company and craic. A true gent. Condolences to his family and may he RIP.

Paul Sherwood - A very sad loss - I never met him, but have heard lots of stories... RIP

Nick Bradshaw - Shocking news, very sad for his family and friends, RIP Tom ‘Burkey’ Burke

Aidan Crawley - Thats very sad, poor old Burkie

James Crombie - Very sad to read, RIP Tom

Barry Cronin - Very sad, lovely man, really great newspaper man.

Michael Chester - Shocked . . . sad to hear the passing of Tom . . . R.I.P.

Damien Eagers - That's so sad to hear, rip Tom, a true gentleman.

Paddy Barker - Sad news indeed, Tom must have been one of the longest serving Press Photographers in the country, and certainly the best known!

Brendan Moran - Very sad news to hear, RIP Tom.

John McIlwaine - Sad news. RIP Tom

William Higgins - Sorry to hear of Tom's passing. He was always very helpful to me over the years. A thorough gentleman. Many years ago Charlie Haughey was on crutches for an appearance at the Four Courts after he had stepped down as Taoiseach. One of his sons asked the photographers not to take photos of Charlie with the crutches and we agreed. When we were finished Charlie took up the crutches and walked towards the door to the courts, and as he was about to enter Tom, eager to get 'the shot' shouted "Mr. Haughey, Mr. Haughey look back". Without turning his head, Charlie said: "Son, never look back".

Ian Epstein - May he Rest in Peace

Justin Mac Innes -That’s shocking news about Tom’s passing. One of the finest in our industry. Tom worked in the Indo alongside my dad (Alan Mac Innes) during 60’s 70’s and 80’s and also my late brother Terry for a few years in the 60’s when he worked there. Tom had so many great stories about the real good auld days and had a nose for the inside track on what was happening on the Dublin scene. A true gentleman, very sad to see him pass. RIP Tom

Maura Hickey - So sorry to hear this. Tom helped me the first time I got caught in a media scrum, he helped me get my pictures.

Nicholas Mac Innes - Sad to hear, always enjoyed his company and the stories he had. RIP

Domnick Walsh - A gentleman- he used to call me kiddo - we had some fun with Burkey at the rose of tralee festival- RIP Tom

John Ohle - I am so sorry to hear of Tom's passing. He was one of the colossus of Irish photography and a gent. He will be missed.