Thomas Burns (Tommy)

Dublin circa 1930

This page is about James Alphonsus Thomas Burns and he was born in 1890  ("Tommy Burns"), a successful businessman and fight promoter in Dublin Ireland. My great Uncle Tommy was a fight promoter, engaging the top boxers of the day (Wild Bert Kenny vs. Llewelyn (Llew) Williams, Cotter Brogan vs. Battling Brannigan) in the Antient Concert Rooms in Dublin.

Tommy Burns was married to Polly Burns (Polly Fairclough) - World champion lady boxer.  He may have lived on Merrion Strand Road, Dublin.

Antient Concert Rooms, Dublin


“To Dearest sister Geraldine from your Big Brother Tommy”

Tommy Burns photo attached to a 1923 calendar


The son of Dr. John. A. Burns,, Tommy Burns died as a result of a heart attack during a prostate operation in 1946.  From Patrick Joseph Dillon (grandson of Tommy Burns) :

I should explain that I do not believe I am a blood relation of Tommy but am the son of Polly's youngest daughter Mary (May).  I have Tommy's death certificate and it does not look as though he was murdered as cause of death was the result of a prostrate operation and had a heart attack on the table.  He was aged 56 and died on 31st July 1946 - I was 7 at the time and remember it well. 

Tommy's real name was James Alphonsus Thomas Burns and he was born in 1890.  His father's name was John and a brother was also John, both dentists.  My wife and I went to Dublin two years ago to undertake research into the family and went to Dun Laoghaire to see the Burns family home.  It is still a dentist surgery and some locals remembered the Burns family.  It was 99 Upper Georges Street.
I understand that Virginia and Geraldine went to Albuquerque, Mexico in 1944/5.  One of my sisters is named Virginia Geraldine after her aunts.  Although Tommy trained to become a dentist before meeting Polly he changed tack to become a commission agent, otherwise known as a track bookmaker.  When he lived at Sandymount he had a pony and trap and used to take us children into Dublin.  He was well known around Dublin and always wore a western style hat. 

He drove an American car, I believe it was a Studebaker.  The back wheels were half covered by the mudguard.  I can still remember the smell of the leather.  He paid for my oldest brother Tommy, my sister Pauline and myself to have private education until he died but after that times were hard and Polly eventually died in poverty in Dublin in 1958. 

Tommy is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery just outside Dublin and Polly is buried with him.  We did take our children to Ireland when young and took a photo of the grave, but we did not have time to go back to see it this time.
It is rumoured that Polly met Tommy in 1913 when she boxed at the National Sporting Club in London, the only woman to have done so - we are still investigating this point but not getting anywhere at the moment.  My mother was born in 1913 and always went under the name of Burns, even on her marriage to my father Christopher Dillon it was stated that her name was Burns and her father was Thomas Burns. 

My uncle Brendan Dillon was an actor who appeared in many films.  He and his brother Dermot and sisters Moira and Patricia all went to America to Santa Monica.