Photo: Mark Condren.

 

Turtle Bunbury is an Irish author, historian, broadcaster and award-winning podcaster known for his work in documenting and preserving Irish history and heritage. Described as ‘one of the most versatile authors of his generation,’ he has written numerous books covering various aspects of history, including biographies, travel guides, corporate histories and accounts of notable events.

His writing often focuses on bringing lesser-known stories and characters from Irish history to light, and he is recognized for his engaging storytelling style and meticulous research.

In addition to his writing, Turtle has contributed to numerous media outlets and has undertaken projects to promote awareness and appreciation of Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.

 

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Turtle’s podcast series are:

  • Waterways Through Time – In an ongoing collaboration with Waterways Ireland, Turtle explores the rich and often quirky history of Ireland’s waterways from the end of the last Ice Age through to the patrol officers and lock keepers of the present. The series won the Bronze Medal for Best Podcast at the 2023 Digital Media Awards. Listen here.
  • Behind the Guinness Gates – An 8-part series featuring interviews with a rapper, a chef, a Guinness family stalwart and two historians, as well as three episodes about the formative years of St James’s Gate and the brewery. Listen here.
  • Turtle Bunbury’s Global Irish – The series zeroed in on five extraordinary characters from Ireland who made their mark around the world – Ernest Shackleton, Lola Montez, Hercules Mulligan, Nellie Cashman and the Incredible Mr Kavanagh. Listen here.
  • The Corkagh History Podcast – Turtle traces the remarkable story of a south Dublin estate, with its links to the Tudor conquest, the gunpowder trade, Titanic, Macbeth and Voldemort. Listen here.
  • The Maxol Story – Turtle charts a story of ingenuity, adversity and fortitude from the founding of Maxol by the McMullan family in 1920 through to the present-day challenges of climate change, Covid 19 and technological advance. Listen here.
  • Vanishing Ireland – Turtle discusses life and its learnings with fifteen fascinating and inspiring men and women of senior vintage from across the four provinces of Ireland. Listen here.

 

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Turtle is an accredited lecturer of The Arts Society (London). He was awarded the Gilmartin Medal in 2021. 

By the end of the summer of 2024, he will have installed his 100th Past Tracks history panel at an Irish railway station. This acclaimed project is in conjunction with Irish Rail / Iarnród Éireann and illustrator Derry Dillon. 

He circumnavigated Ireland twice in 2023, and once in 2022, as the guest lecturer on board Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky. He also went on a lecture tour to Chicago and New York in 2022.

His podcast series Waterways Through Time won a bronze medal at the Digital Media Awards in 2023.

Turtle has been short-listed at the Irish Book Awards four times. His book, The Irish Diaspora was described by BBC History Magazine as ‘impeccably researched.’ Sebastian Barry, who applauded his 2020 bestseller Ireland’s Forgotten Past as ‘a stirring atlas of Irishness,’ observed: ‘‘Turtle goes back with his historian’s eye, but also his humanitarian heart, and gathers together a host of tiny epics.’  His book 1847 drew special praise from director Lenny Abrahamson, who said he had ‘always loved Turtle’s writing, the wit and heartbeat in his history.’

Over the past 20 years, he has also researched and written hundreds of family, house and corporate histories, including recent books on Adare Manor (‘The Renaissance of an Irish Country House,’ and ‘An Epicurean Journey’), Naas Racecourse, Maxol, Weir & Sons (Jewellers) and Gregans Castle in County Clare.

He has been engaged in public history for 25 years and has a substantial following on social media through his Vanishing Ireland Facebook group and Turtle Bunbury Histories Facebook page. A co-founder of the Vanishing Ireland project, Turtle also hosted a podcast series chronicling the life and times of Ireland’s oldest generation through their stories and distinctive voices.

Turtle co-founded the History Festival of Ireland in 2011. The event was subsumed into the annual Festival of Writing and Ideas at Borris House, County Carlow, at which Turtle is a regular guest.

 

His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic Traveler, The World of Interiors, the Financial Times, the Daily Beast, Playboy, The AustralianThe Guardian and the Irish Times. 

Turtle is married to the novelist Ally Bunbury. They live in County Carlow, Ireland, with their two daughters.

For more, see here.

Or, if you’re from the Shakespearean era and would like to know what Turtle does, try this:

Turtle, a chronicler of Hibernia’s past, a scribe, and orator, of wide renown he’s cast. For his tomes, his spoken tales, and scripts that sail through Erin’s history, heritance, and cultured tales, he doth render them graspable and ensnaring to the gathered throng.