Corporate Histories

Maxol

The Story of an Irish Business (1920-2020)

In 1920, William McMullan, an apprentice chemist, and his brother JG McMullan registered a new business in Dublin that sold and distributed lubricating oil and paraffin. Following an alliance with one of the country’s foremost hauliers, McMullan Brothers fortune was greatly boosted in 1921 when, on the eve of the partition of Ireland, they became the sole distributor of a popular petrol called Mex Motor Spirit across the thirty-two counties.

By the close of the 1920s, the company had one of the largest truck fleets in the country, and twenty-three fuel depots. Known today as The Maxol Group, the family-owned business is now one of the biggest energy providers in Ireland, and a global leader in terms of food innovation and convenience retail on the forecourts of its 237 service stations.

Maxol’s pioneering stamp can also be found in matters of distribution, publicity, welfare and green energy, as well as in the gas industry, where it was integral to the success of both Calor and Kosangas.

The company has enjoyed a long history as a patron of multiple sports and sporting events, with a particular fruitful focus on the ‘all-Ireland’ sports of amateur boxing, rally driving, rugby and the GAA. A constructive, cross-border outlook also enabled Maxol to complete a successful integration of its northern and southern management teams in the 1990s, providing an inspirational blueprint for other companies seeking to do likewise.

Replete with episodes of brilliance, ingenuity, serendipity and success, this sweeping book tells Maxol’s fascinating story from the formative years of the McMullan family through the drama of global wars, oil crises, political conflict and economic hardship to its present-day responses to climate change, Covid 19 and technological advance.

The book was designed by Graham Thew and edited by Helen Wright.

‘Bunbury delights in digging out untold stories and delivering them in an entertaining way, as readers of his books will know. True to form, he has drilled down into the foundations of Maxol and come up with a wealth of stories reflecting the company and its colourful founding family. The result is over 250 pages packed with tales and images of former employees and events, well as the growth of motoring, industry and motorsports across Ireland.’

The Belfast Telegraph

‘fantastic, rich book of anecdotes and pictures … a beautiful read.’

Bobby Kerr, Down to Business, Newstalk

An absolute a triumph. Very well done!’

Noel McMullan, director, The Maxol Group

‘A fantastic job – it captures the journey of the first 100 years perfectly.’

Brian Donaldson, CEO, The Maxol Group

‘Turtle Bunbury is renowned for his forensic knowledge of Irish history … Finishing a book of this scope in a pandemic has been a considerable achievement. This glossy 260-page coffee table book covers a century of McMullan family life. It is a chronicle of determination and drive – a treasure trove of archive material, illustrations and personal recollections.’

Graeme Lennox, The Sunday Times

‘A magnificent tome … thoroughly enjoyable. This publication will stand the test of time and also serves as the basis of good advertising for Maxol.’

Frank Dormer, former human resources manager, Maxol Group

Adare Manor

An Epicurean Journey (2020)

In his second collaboration with Adare Manor, Turtle Bunbury traces the swift and remarkable voyage that has established it as one of Ireland’s principal culinary landmarks. History appears in this new book too, with Adare’s culinary heritage stretching back to an 8-day festival held on the estate almost 800 years ago. And yet this book is also very much a story of today’s Ireland. It looks at the exceptional work of the kitchen staff across Adare Manor, at their gastronomic odysseys around Ireland and at the multiple artisan suppliers they work with.

Much of the success is down to the chefs, bakers, chocolatiers and pastry makers who are constantly nurturing and developing their creative flair and ingenuity. The quality of the produce is also key. Most of the ingredients used have been sourced from artisan farms, gardens, orchards and coastal waters across Ireland that the head chefs visited during their two groundbreaking culinary road trips.

The dining areas are an integral part of the tale. Breakfast and afternoon tea are served in The Gallery, one of the most majestic rooms in Ireland, completed over 180 years ago.

The Oak Room, whose Michelin Star was confirmed again in 2021, offers the exquisite delights of the Market Menu, complete with a superb wine list and one of the finest cheese trolleys in the land. This chapter also looks at the brilliant wine collection, for which Jurica Gojevic, the founding sommelier, won the inaugural Michelin Sommelier Award in 2019.

It also details the behind-the-scenes activity in the kitchens (including a dedicated Chocolate Room) and dining areas, the brilliant wine collection (for which Jurica Gojevic, the founding sommelier, was awarded the inaugural Michelin Sommelier Award 2020), an exciting new collaboration with Midleton Distillery and a plethora of cocktails from Ariel Sanecki, one of the world’s champion mixologists. There’s also a dozen delectable recipes for good measure.

The Carriage House brings a contemporary clubhouse ambience to another part of the 840-acre estate, while weddings, banquets and corporate dinners take place amid the splendour of The Grand Ballroom.

In the subterranean world of The Tack Room, world champion cocktails are served alongside whiskey from an exceptional collection that includes Adare Manor’s collaborations with the Midleton Distillery and its new Garden Gin.

The book was designed by John Power and edited by Yvonne Gordon, winner of the Travel Extra Irish Travel Journalist of the Year award in 2017 and 2019. It was printed by W&G Baird, Northern Ireland.

‘Adare Manor’s journey echoes another voyage of discovery, that undertaken by Rene Redzepi and his cohort before they opened Noma, in Copenhagen. Redzepi wrote a big, handsome book about that, and now Turtle Bunbury has done the same. This fine book walks us through both the history of the manor, and the day-to-day operations of the team, as they strive to hit the heights with every aspect of their work.’

McKenna’s Guides

‘It is always a pleasure to work with Turtle and his great team. His enthusiasm & commitment to accuracy and completeness has really made our books such enjoyable reading. The new book is proving extremely popular with our guests.’

Colm Hannon, CEO, Adare Manor

‘A lavishly illustrated exploration of food and drink … documenting the historical precedents and current exciting blossoming of the dining experience at Adare Manor, focussing on the sense of place and spirit of hospitality that has always animated this unique estate. A feast of stories and full of recipes too, from simple breads to elegant entrees and delectable desserts.‘

Eoin Higgins, Image Magazine

Weir & Sons

150 – A Celebration

In 1869, Thomas Weir, a Scottish jeweller, moved to Dublin to establish what would soon become one of the biggest and busiest jewellery and silverware manufacturers in the city. Based at 3 Wicklow Street, the store subsequently expanded around the corner into a fabulous Victorian redbrick block at 97-99 Grafton Street.

Over 150 years after Thomas Weir’s arrival in Dublin, Weir and Sons continues to be run by his descendants, Chris, Lucinda and Natasha Andrews, who represent the fifth generation of the family.

Written by Turtle Bunbury, this celebratory book tells the story of the Weir family from their Glaswegian origins to Thomas’s rise through the ranks of Dublin jewellers and onwards into the twentieth century when his charismatic sons and grandsons built the business up into one of the world’s largest privately-owned chains of jewellery stores on the eve of the Second World War.

Offering a behind-the-scenes insight into the romance and ingenuity of the jewellery, silverware and watch trade, the book features cameos by actresses such as Grace Kelly and Rita Hayworth, as well as connections to the brilliant philanthropist Sir Isaac Wolfson and the political icon Michael Collins. It also explains the origins of the Liam McCarthy Cup, the All-Ireland Senior Hurling trophy, and the Dublin Horse Show’s famous Aga Khan trophy.

Testimonials

‘I just wanted to say how pleased we all are with the beautiful Adare Manor book. It is really special and I know this is down to all of the hard work you put into this project.’

Colm Hannon, Chief Executive
Adare Manor
County Limerick

Europe’s No. 1 Resort
Condé Nast Traveler, 2019

Ireland’s Leading Hotel 2018, 2019, 2020
World Travel Awards

‘Turtle delved deep into every available archive and produced an extraordinary amount of hitherto unknown facts about our building and the businesses that have operated there. We’ve been delighted to work with him ever since – as a public speaker, as an author and as the formidable researcher that he is.’

Mervyn Greene, Managing Director
EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum

Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction, World Travel Awards 2019 and 2020

‘Thoroughly researched, well written and beautifully produced. For anyone who would like to have their history researched and written, I whole-heartedly recommend Turtle Bunbury.’

Michael O’Leary
Chief Executive Officer
Ryanair

‘It was a pleasure to work with Turtle and we were very happy with the final book. He completed our book efficiently, accurately, on time and in a very personable manner.’

Mark Dorman
Museum Director
Croke Park Stadium

‘The Docklands Authority and the local community were both hugely impressed with Turtle’s chronicle of the area, by its accuracy, its depth and presentation. The images, design and overall layout added up to a very attractive publication. We would be delighted to recommend Mr. Bunbury for similar projects.’

Loretta Lambkin
Dublin Docklands Development Authority

‘From day one Turtle has been a delight to work with. His professionalism, knowledge, detective capabilities, and love of his work have been most reassuring. Turtle has amazed and dazzled me many times. I have no hesitation in telling you that I have been enlightened by the details and particulars, previously unknown to me that Turtle has uncovered.’

Bruce Crampton
14-time PGA Tour Winner

‘I was truly delighted to receive such a thorough history, well in excess of original requirements, and even more impressed with your delivery against an exceptionally tight timeframe. It made my part of the project so much easier to have such a well-written piece to work with, and made it very easy to show the wider committee that they have received excellent value in this undertaking.’

Patrick Quinlan,
Director

‘We are delighted with Turtle’s work. Just what we were looking for.’

Mark Forman
Founder/CEO
Irish Whiskey Assets Limited

‘We are delighted with Turtle’s work. Just what we were looking for.’

Mark Forman
Founder/CEO
Irish Whiskey Assets Limited

‘Turtle Bunbury’s fascinating history of Kilshane House has given my watch substance and enlightenment to bring the past into the future.’

Jane de Roquancourt, Owner,
Kilshane House, County Tipperary, Ireland

‘When the main house burned down in the 1798 rebellion, all records were apparently lost. And then along came Turtle Bunbury who not only filled in the gaps since 1798 but went all the way back to megalithic times. He literally left no stone unturned. Now, thanks to Turtle, we have a real sense of history and place. Such knowledge underpins our desire to leave as good a legacy behind us as those who came before.’

Joe O’Flynn, Owner,
Rathsallagh House, County Wicklow, Ireland

Best Wedding Venue in Ireland,
National Hospitality Awards, 2017 and 2018.