Turtle Bunbury has been variously described as ‘one of Ireland’s most prolific historians’ and ‘one of the most versatile authors of his generation.’ As well as over twenty published books, he is an award-nominated podcaster and a frequent figure on Irish television and radio.
An accredited lecturer of The Arts Society (London), he has recently circumnavigated Ireland three times. Turtle was awarded the Gilmartin Medal in 2021.
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 has been selected as a finalist for the 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.
In April 2022, he installed his 50th 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 August-September 2023, and again in August 2022 as the guest lecturer on board Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky. He went on a lecture tour to Chicago and New York in October 2022.
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 Maxol, Adare Manor (‘The Renaissance of an Irish Country House,’ and ‘An Epicurean Journey’), Weir & Sons (Jewellers) and Gregans Castle in County Clare.
He has been engaged in public history for over twenty 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. 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 Australian, The Guardian and the Irish Times.
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.
Turtle is married to the novelist Ally Bunbury. They live in County Carlow, Ireland, with their two daughters.
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