Home town honour for Limerick man who helped Balkan nations achieve independence

James David Bourchier

A COUNTY Limerick man who played a major role in achieving independence for several Eastern European countries has been remembered in his native town.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Post Office in Bruff this week recalling the exploits of journalist and political activist James David Bourchier who was born in December 1850 at Baggotstown House on the outskirts of the town.

The ceremony was attended by Bulgarian Ambassador Gergana Karadjova and former Irish ambassador to Bulgaria, Michael Forbes.

As Balkan correspondent of the London Times, Bourchier was instrumental in the founding of the Balkan League, which led to many Balkan states gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire.

After his death in December 1920, he was buried near the Rila Monastery in  southwestern Bulgaria. He remains the only foreigner ever allowed to be buried at the one of the greatest monasteries in Bulgaria.

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He was also the first Irish person to appear on a stamp in mainland Europe.

A number of Bulgarian streets, artworks, and monuments – as well as a metro station, a cigarette brand, and a cove in the Antarctic – bear his name.