Born in 1848, Thomas Kane
McClintock Bunbury, 2nd
Lord Rathdonnell, was
destined to inherit the vast
estates and peerage of his
uncle at the age of 31.
Click on the Pathe News
Reports below for some very
rare footage of him.
The first sees him walking
between the Governor
General Tim Healy and a
man who may well be the
Aga Khan at the Dublin
Horse Show in 1926.
The second shows him talking
with two journalists at the 2nd
Dublin Bull Show in
1. THE FORMATIVE YEARS (1848-1866)
2. MILITARY AND MARRIAGE (1867-1878)
3. SUCCESSION AS LORD RATHDONNELL (1879-1899)
4. BILLY'S DEATH & THE EVE OF WAR (1900-1913)
5. WORLD WAR ONE (1914-1918)
6. IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE (1919-1921)
7. THE IRISH CIVIL WAR (1922-1923)
8. TWILIGHT & EPILOGUE (1924-1960)
This chronology is designed to create a backdrop against which Tom Bunbury, later 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, lived his 81 years. By placing it on the web, it is hoped that these pages might be of mutual benefit to others researching similar characters from this age. Born just over a decade into Queen Victoria's reign, the first part of Tom Rathdonnell's life was essentially framed by the unrelenting drive of the Britain Empire. His father, William McClintock Bunbury (1800 - 1866) was first and foremost a sailing man. In his youth he had explored the South Seas with Charles Darwin and his cousin - the future Admiral Sir Francis McClintock - and chased slavers around the coast of Brazil after the abolition of slavery. He retired from the Royal Navy with the rank of Captain. The timber of his old ship, HMS Samarang, would go to form some of the furniture which the Captain commissioned for his magnificent new family mansion, Lisnavagh House in County Carlow. The first brick of the new house was laid on 23rd January 1847 and by the time of Tom Rathdonnell's birth nearly two years later, the house was nearing completion. But 1847 also marked the worst near of the Great Famine, the effects of which were to dramatically reshape the future of Ireland.
In 1868, Tom's uncle John McClintock was elevated to the
Irish Peerage as Baron Rathdonnell by Disraeli's Tory government.
In 1879, the title - and a vast estate that spread all across Ireland -
came to Tom and from him it descends to the present - and 5th - Baron Rathdonnell,
who is my father, Benjamin.
By 1879, the calls for Home Rule in Ireland were loud. Tom Bunbury, a product
of his age, appears to have sided with those who wanted to retain the parliamentary
union with Britain. He was an officer and before that, an old Etonian, as
were his two sons, the eldest of whom Billy Bunbury would die fighting for the British
in South Africa during the Boer War. In the early 20th century, Tom was
one of the more powerful Anglo-Irish magnates in Ireland. On the eve of
the Great War he was Chairman of the Leinster Unionists and President of
the Royal Dublin Society. He was also sometime Lord Lieutenant of County
Carlow. Locals knew him as 'Auld Rathdonnell'; his son and grandson referred to him as 'The O.B', probably meaning 'The Old Boy'.
He outlived his wife by five years, passing away at the age of 81 in 1929. He was succeeded at Lisnavagh - and as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell - by his second and only surviving son, Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, my father's grandfather.