Festschrift for Tadhg Foley
From Bruff to the Balkans: James David Bourchier Michael Foley 121
From Bruff to the Balkans: James David Bourchier Michael Foley When the County Limerick born journalist, James David Bourchier (1850– 1920) died in Sofia Bulgaria in 1920 one leading Bulgarian newspaper declared on its front page: ‘Our Bourchier is dead’. When news of his death became widely known in Sofia a crowd gathered outside the Grand Hotel Bulgarie, where his two rooms had been the nearest thing to permanent home for the previous thirty years. It was an indication of his standing in his adopted country that his funeral service took place at the Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, a stunning monument of neo-Byzantine architecture that commemorates the Russian soldiers who died in the fight for Bulgarian freedom in 1877. According to the British Ambassador, Sir Arthur Peel, he lay in state and the King laid a wreath. Sir Arthur reported that the funeral service was carried out according to the Orthodox rite. The Ambassador also reported to the Foreign Office in London that the crowds who attended were so great that many people, including other ambassadors, were unable to gain entry.1 Crowds lined the route through the city, as the cortege made its way to Rila Monastery high in the Rhodope Mountains. King Boris personally granted Bourchier’s wish to be buried at Rila monastery. Rila is a mysterious place, situated in a mountain valley, sur- rounded by forests and high peaks that remain snow covered for much of the year. The monastery is one of the most beautiful in Bulgaria,...
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