Memorabilia from legendary Bourke brothers received
June 16, 2021
The College was recently presented with donations relating to the legendary Bourke brothers from Pakenham, who were renowned in the horse racing industry.
The memorabilia was recently donated by Megan Gannon and related to her uncles, the Bourke brothers from Pakenham, who attended SPC in the 1940-50s and her grandfather and great uncle, Michael and Hugh Bourke, who attended in the early 1900s.
Donated items include handwritten exercise books showing the school curriculum in 1905; books including ‘A Popular Manual of Church History’ published in 1891, prayer book used by pupils in Catholic Schools 1941, ‘colouring in’ cards dated 1900 by Hugh and Michael, intricate woven paper, football and cricket team photos from the 1940s and photos from around the College and boarding school taken by, David Bourke, as a student in late 1940s.
David had aspirations to study medicine but due to the untimely passing of his father, David at the age of 19, became the youngest person in racing history to become a club secretary, at the Pakenham Racing Club.
Megan recalled the Bourke brothers established what would become the Pakenham racecourse on their family property in the 1920s.
In the next generation, David, along with his brothers, listed below, took on various roles within the racing fraternity including that of, club secretaries, chairmen, veterinary steward and race day doctor.
Michael and Hugh (SPC 1905-1907)
Sons of Michael
David (SPC 1944-1947)
John (SPC 1945-1949) Dux 1948 and 1949 and won the Purton Oratory in 1949
Brien (SPC 1947-1949)
Hugh (SPC 1949-1951)
Michael (SPC 1950-1954) Dux 1954
Gavan (SPC 1952-1954)
David sadly passed away in 2005, aged 74, and was remembered for his dedication as a racing administrator for over 60 years, including a seven year stint as the chairman of the Victorian Racing Club.
The Bourke brothers were inducted as College Legends in 2010 for their contribution to racing. Michael also received an OAM in 2019 for services to medicine in the Leongatha area.
We spoke to Michael recently, who is now aged 85. Michael spoke fondly of his days at SPC and Brs Healy, O’Malley and Kelty. He also played in the SPC Old Boys amateur football team in the 1950s.