James Fennell (left) and Turtle Bunbury at launch of second
volume of 'Vanishing Ireland' in Hughes & Hughes Bookshop,
Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, Dublin in October 2009. The
book was shortlisted for Irish Published Book of the Year.
(Photo: Stu Carroll).
All four books are available
Irish writer Turtle Bunbury and photographer James Fennell have now collaborated on seven books. The duo have known each other since early childhood. Their fathers were tremendous friends. They were at school together from the ages of eight to thirteen. Turtle was James's best man; James is godfather to Turtle's daughter Bay. An interview with the two authors formed a major feature in The Irish Times Magazine in November 2009.
During the 1990s, Turtle studied history at Trinity College Dublin. After three years living in Hong Kong, he enjoyed a career as a roving historian in Ireland for a travel website. In 2004, he published his first book on Ireland’s ‘Big House’ families. His travel-writing career also flourished when he won Ireland’s Longhaul Journalist of the Year Award in 2006.
Meanwhile, James Fennell completed his visual media studies in Dublin and began working as an apprentice for various photographers, primarily the successful fashion photographer Perry Ogden. He duly went out on his own, rapidly establishing himself as one of Ireland’s leading fashion, interiors and portrait photographers.
In 2000, 'Fennell and Bunbury' embarked upon their first collaborative assignment to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Nine stories from their African adventure subsequently appeared in magazines in Ireland, Dubai and Hong Kong. In 2001, Fennell and Bunbury made a similar expedition to Mexico. In 2002, they began extensive tours of Sri Lanka, resulting in their first collaborative book, ‘Living in Sri Lanka’. The Financial Times proclaimed it 'a sumptuous portrait of an unforgettable architectural landscape'.
Turtle Bunbury and James Fennell at the launch
of 'The Irish Pub' in the Gravity Bar at the
Guinness Storehouse in Dublin (November 2008).
(Photo: Anna Bagally)
Since 2003, Turtle and James have circumnavigated Ireland countless times working together, primarily on the Vanishing Ireland Project. Turtle interviews, James photographs and the two facets are duly combined in a series of photographic essays. The partnership works perfectly and four books, comprising over 160 such essays have now been published. James's photographs are warm-hearted, affectionate and revealing, but always careful to put their subject into context. Turtle's text brings out the wit and the stoicism of these old timers without ever being condescending. The pictures complement the observations with stunning clarity and feeling.
Three of the four volumes of 'Vanishing Ireland', including the most recent, have been shortlisted for the Irish Published Book of the Year Awards. The third volume, published in 2011, was No. 8 in the hardback non-fiction charts at Christmas 2011.
Fennell and Bunbury have also collaborated on two books for Thames & Hudson - The Irish Pub (2008) and the acclaimed interiors bible, Living in Sri Lanka (2006). The latter helped earn Turtle the Travel Extra Longhaul Journalist of the Year Award 2006.
In 2010, Turtle and James produced Sporting Legends of Ireland, which was nominated for the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year.
James Fennell's book on 'Irish Furniture' was launched by the Irish Georgian Society in 2007, while 'The Irish Country House' with the Knight of Glin and James Peil was launched by Vendome in 2010. He was also closely involved with 'Thomas Roberts: Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-century Ireland' by Brendan Rooney and William Laffan (Churchill Press, 2009), His work has appeared in such publications as Architectural Digest, the Financial Times, Four Seasons magazine, and Nest.
Turtle Bunbury's books include the much respected 'Dublin Docklands: An Urban Voyage', which he also produced, as well as 'The Remarkable Albums of Sylvia Drew' and a private family history for Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, the Guardian, Irish Times, the New York Post, Playboy and Vogue Living.