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Includes content from Vanishing Ireland, Easter Dawn, Dublin Docklands, The Irish Pub, Maxol and many more, as well as Waterways Ireland, the Past Tracks project and hundreds of historical articles on Irish families, houses, companies and events.

About Turtle Bunbury

 

Turtle Bunbury is a best-selling author, historian, podcaster, public speaker, content creator and TV presenter based in Ireland. He 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 active podcaster and a frequent figure on Irish television and radio. In July 2022, he was appointed an Accredited Lecturer of The Arts Society (London).  Turtle was guest lecturer on board Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky, which  circumnavigated Ireland in 2022.  He was awarded the Gilmartin Medal in 2021.

His latest works include the podcast series, Global Irish, a colourful take on the Irish abroad, and Waterways Through Time, a collaboration with Waterways Ireland, which won Bronze Medal for Best Podcast Series at the 2023 Digital Media Awards.  He has also produced a 12-part podcast series, The Maxol Story, launched in 2022, and a 9-part series with Guinness called Behind the Guinness Gates.

He is author of the acclaimed Vanishing Ireland series, a podcast and book series. Season One of the podcast series aired in  2021 and emerged as one of the leading irish history downloads. The podcasts follow on from the four-book series, a collaboration with photographer James Fennell and publishers Hachette Ireland. Three of the Vanishing Ireland books were short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year, while the series sold in excess of 80,000 books.

His book The Centenary of Naas Racecourse was published in 2023, and will be followed by Kilkea Castle – A Complete History in 2024. His book The Irish Diaspora – Tales of Emigrants, Exile & Empire (Thames & Hudson) was published in 2021.  Turtle’s other published books include Ireland’s Forgotten Past, described by Sebastian Barry as ‘a stirring atlas of Irishness’ (2020), Easter Dawn (2015), The Glorious Madness, Tales of the Irish & the Great War and 1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery, which film director Lenny Abrahamson describes as ‘vivid, surprising, hugely entertaining.’

He also wrote and produced two books for Adare Manor, namely An Epicurean Journey (2020) and Renaissance of an Irish Country House (2019), as well as Maxol – The Story of an Irish Family Business (2020), which is also a podcast series, and Weir’s Jewellers 150 (2019).

He is the creator of ‘Past Tracks’, a public history collaboration with Irish Rail. The first 50 panels were unveiled across Ireland’s 50 busiest railway stations between 2019 and 2022, with the next 50 in motion for 2024. He also curated ‘A City By the Sea’ and ‘Cork 1918,’ two exhibitions in Cork City. He worked closely on interpretive design projects for Cork Harbour, Slane Castle and Avondale House in County Wicklow.

 

In consultation with actress-singer Mandy Moore for US series of Who Do You Think You Are?

ON SCREEN

 

In 2022, Turtle appeared on TV shows such as ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’.

He was one of the main presenters of the Genealogy Roadshow, the pioneering series which aired on RTE One between 2011 and 2017. In each episode, Turtle teamed up with two genealogists to investigate claims by people who believed they have famous or infamous relatives, or that they were connected to a historical event or long-standing mystery. The series was produced by Big Mountain and inspired PBS America to develop its own version of the form. For more see here.

Turtle  appeared with Mandy Moore on the US series of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ He has also worked as a historical consultant on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ (Ireland), most notably with former Miss World, Rosanna Davison.

Promotional poster for the second series of the Genealogy Roadshow. Turtle was one of the main presenters of the series which aired on RTE One between 2011 and 2017.

Turtle was one of the talking heads in the award-winning drama documentary, ‘Violet Gibson, The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini‘ (2020). He was also the consultant and scriptwriter for the BIFF award-nominated ‘John Henry Foley – Ghost of the Empire’ which first aired on TG4 in November 2008. To mark the bicentenary of Foley’s birth in 2018, Turtle and filmmaker Sé Merry Doyle teamed up with the OPW to host ‘Ireland Salutes John Henry Foley‘, an afternoon of evocative film, insightful talks and succulent debate at Dublin Castle.

Turtle has frequently contributed to RTE’s Nationwide. He was on BBC2’s ‘Antiques to the Rescue’ (with John Foster, talking about Borris House in Co. Carlow) and BBC1’s ‘Wogan’s Ireland’ (where he pondered the drunkenness of the Jacobite troops at the battle of the Boyne with Sir Terry Wogan.)

 

ON THE RADIO

 

Turtle is a regular speaker on local and national Irish radio. In May 2018 he spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today Show about the Irish abortion referendum. In April 2018 he was on Georgia PBS with ‘The Green Island Radio Show’. In May 2011, he talked about Obama’s visit to Ireland with Michael Patrick Shiels on Michigan’s Morning Show (1240 WJIM).

From June to November 2013, Turtle was Resident Historian on the popular Newstalk Breakfast show on Ireland’s Newstalk 106, presenting ‘Talking History,’ a weekly slot that probed lesser known aspects of Irish history with the show’s presenters Chris Donoghue, Ivan Yates, Shane Coleman and Nora Casey. ‘The feedback on Twitter and word of mouth about Turtle’s Hidden Histories has been fantastic,’ wrote Niamh Hassell, producer of Newstalk Breakfast . ‘People tell me that they look forward to it every week, and how different it is from anything else.’

 

PUBLISHED BOOKS

 

  • The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Co. Kildare (Irish Family Names, 2004) ISBN 0953848531
  • The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Co. Wicklow (Irish Family Names, 2005) ISBN 0953848574
  • Living in Sri Lanka (Thames & Hudson, 2006), with James Fennell. ISBN 0500512876
  • Vanishing Ireland (Hodder Headline, 2006), with James Fennell. ISBN 034092277X
  • The Irish Pub (Thames & Hudson, 2008) with James Fennell. ISBN 0500514283
  • Dublin Docklands – An Urban Voyage (Montague, 2009). ISBN 0955815517
  • Vanishing Ireland 2 (Hodder Headline, 2009), with James Fennell. ISBN 0340920270
  • Sporting Legends of Ireland (Mainstream, 2010) with James Fennell. ISBN 1845965027
  • Vanishing Ireland 3 (Hachette, 2011), with James Fennell. ISBN 1444733052
  • Dublin from the Etihad Skyline (GAA Museum, 2012), ISBN 978-0957280502.
  • Vanishing Ireland 4 (Hachette, 2013), with James Fennell. ISBN 1444733060
  • The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War (Gill & Macmillan, 2014) ISBN 978-07171-6234-5
  • Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising (Mercier Press, 2015). ISBN 978-1781-172582
  • 1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery (Gill, 2016). ISBN 9780717168347
  • Adare Manor : The Renaissance of an Irish Country House (Adare Manor Publishing, 2019) ISBN 9781527246706
  • Maxol: The Story of an Irish Family Business (Maxol, 2020) ISBN 9781527258501
  • Adare Manor: An Epicurean Journey (Adare Manor Publishing, 2020)
  • Ireland’s Forgotten Past (Thames & Hudson, 2020) ISBN 9780500022535
  • Gregan Castle – Princes and Poets (Turtle Bunbury Histories, 2021)
  • The Irish Diaspora: Tales of Emigration, Exile and Imperialism (Thames & Hudson, 2021) ISBN 9780500022528
  • The Centenary of Naas Racecourse – Nursery of Champions (Turtle Bunbury Histories, 2023), ISBN 978-1-3999-6826-3

 

Turtle and Ally with the Bronze Award for Best Podcast series 2023.

PODCASTS (2024)

 

  • Waterways Through Time, Season 1 and 2
  • Behind the Guinness Gates
  • Vanishing Ireland, sponsored by SuperValu, which commenced in July 2021 and quickly established itself as one of Ireland’s most-listened to history podcasts
  • The Maxol Story
  • Turtle Bunbury’s Global Irish
  • Corkagh – The Story of an Irish Country House

 

10 LOVELY TESTIMONIALS

 

‘What I love about Turtle’s writing is that he takes a subject that you might only have a slight connection with, and then he tells you a story that pulls you right into the middle of it. The only other person I can think of who does that is Bill Bryson.’
John Toal, BBC Radio Ulster

‘One of the most versatile authors of his generation.’
Marjorie Quarton

‘I’ve always loved Turtle’s writing, the wit and heartbeat in his history.’
Lenny Abrahamson

‘Turtle Bunbury is renowned for his forensic knowledge of Irish history’
The Sunday Times

‘Turtle goes back with his historian’s eye, but also his humanitarian heart, and gathers together a host of tiny epics, larger epics, the strange stories and the sometimes bizarre happenstances that occurred around the conflict … clear-sighted and finely written … a veritable banner of wonderful stories.’
Sebastian Barry, author of Days Without End and The Secret Scripture.

‘Turtle Bunbury has pulled off a feat of exquisite skill – the upholding of a mandate to edify entertainingly without overwhelming his audience in scholarly aridity … Combining assiduous research with a nose for ribald fun, he disinters the odd, the arcane and the profoundly surprising from the dark recesses of a mostly unknown history.’
Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times

‘A skilled storyteller who carries his learning lightly and his readers with him.’
Breandán Mac Suibhne, BBC History Magazine

‘Mr Bunbury’s attributes include: a true researcher’s curiosity to increase our knowledge about the past; an ability to communicate with great fluency his material and ideas; and a commitment to his subjects that makes him worthy of the title ‘passionate scholar.’
Jamie Camplin, Managing Director, Thames & Hudson

‘I have been a big fan for many, many years. I have most of his books. I very much enjoy the way Turtle has brought history into our domain, the way he has brought it in visually and yet he has also maintained the purity of it, and the science of history.’
Anne Doyle, RTÉ Newscaster

‘You are doing wonderfully meaningful work.’
Mary Heffernan, General Manager & Creative Leader at OPW on Cultural Heritage Protection and Research

 

COLUMNS

During his three years living in Hong Kong (1996–1999), Turtle established his name as a columnist with BC Magazine and the TV Times. He was subsequently guest columnist for The Dubliner during its first year, and also the ill-fated Traiblazer.com … He was also a frequent contributor to The Irish Times Magazine‘s Curiosities column.

As an enthusiast for diversity, his published works cover a wide range from straight up book and music reviews to travel reports, lifestyle studies, architectural design and his own opinions on the society we live in today.

TRAVEL

 

Turtle’s articles are often been published in the Irish Times. He had a column entitled ‘Curiosities’ in the Irish Times Magazine in 2013.

Turtle has contributed travel, history and interiors articles to magazines and newspapers around the world, including National Geographic TravelerPlayboy, Vogue Living, The Irish Times, The Financial Times, The New York Post, The Australian, The Guardian, The World of Interiors, NWA World Traveler, Cara (Aer Lingus), Ryanair Magazine, Serendib (Sri Lankan Airways), the Sunday Independent, Abroad and most Irish print media.

He was Travel Extra Longhaul Journalist of the Year at Holiday World 2006. The prize was presented in Dublin’s RDS by James Malone, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association, and was awarded for an article Turtle composed on Sri Lanka ten months after the tsunami for Abroad Magazine.

Turtle was short-listed for Best Travel Writer of the Year at the Travel Extra (Ireland) Awards in January 2015. His feature story on the musical pubs of County Clare was the lead feature in the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Inspirato, the luxury American Express magazine.

In April 2014, Turtle Bunbury’s feature article on ‘Irish Manor Houses’ was published in National Geographic Traveler. The feature explores five of Ireland’s finest country houses – Hilton Park, Ballyvolane, Huntington Castle, Clonalis and Temple House – and also appeared in the online version of the magazine. The photographs accompanying the story are by Jace Rivers.

In 2012 Turtle Bunbury was the judge for the Smedia Travel Writer of the Year Awards.

Turtle has been on the committee of the Butler Society since 2016.

In the autumn of 2011 he spent four weeks in the Principality of Monaco as the Ireland Funds writer-in-residence to the Princess Grace Irish Library.

 

INTERIORS

 

Turtle was Homes Editor of The White Book and The Book of Interiors from 2005 to 2009. The beauty of writing about interiors is that the stories never die. Style and creativity are concepts that can travel across the borders of time and space. Turtle first understood this when a magazine took the honourable decision to publish a story about a stunning farmhouse in Zimbabwe six months after its owners had been evicted and the house itself destroyed.

Between 2000 and 2010, Turtle and photographer James Fennell embarked on series of assignments around South Africa, Mexico, Sri Lanka, the USA and Europe.  As chroniclers of interior design in their native Ireland, their work featured in Vogue Living, Objekt, Country Living, House & Garden, The Financial Times, The Irish Times and The White Book, amongst others. Their book ‘Living in Sri Lanka’, published by Thames & Hudson in March 2006, received widespread attention for its positive portrayal of post-tsunami Sri Lanka. It was declared “Book of the Month” by The Essential KBB, “The Hot Read” by In Style and one of the three “Hot Summer Reads” by Elle Decoration. The Financial Times, The Scotsman, The Independent, House & Garden, The Irish Times, International Homes Magazine, Image Interiors and The White Book were amongst other major players to give their full support to the book.

 

*****

 

VANISHING IRELAND

 

As a 13-year-old, Turtle’s first interview was with 97-year-old Mrs Kinahan who recalled an Irish childhood set against the backdrop of the Boer War. His subsequent interviewees include brilliant artists, fashion gurus, ancient fishermen, aspiring politicians, camp aristocrats, Eurovision hopefuls and people you’ll never have heard of before.

The Vanishing Ireland project started as a collaboration with photographer James Fennell and publishers Hachette Ireland. A podcast series launched in Summer 2021.

Three separate volumes of the Vanishing Ireland series were each short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year. The series now sold in excess of 80,000 books while the Vanishing Ireland Facebook group has over 170,000 followers.

www.vanishingireland.com 

 

NARRATION

 

Turtle was the narrator for the Ireland exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. See here for more.

 

*****

 

Pictured at the Sli Na Manach Book Launch at the Cistercian College, Roscrea. Photo: Brian Arthur

SPEAKER’S CORNER

 

Turtle was the principal lecturer on Noble Caldeonia’s Island Sky during three circumnavigations of Ireland in 2022 and 2023.

In 2022, he went on a speaker’s tour of Chicago and New York and gave talks for the MGI Ireland and UK Conference in Dublin, the Irish American Heritage Museum (Albany, New York) and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Turtle hosted the 2022 RDS Speaker Series lectures.

He spoke at the UK’s Chalke Valley History Festival in 2019. In 2018, he gave a series of talks in Georgia & South Carolina, including the St Patrick’s Day address to the 600-strong Hibernian Society of Savannah. In 2016, he gave the keynote address in Chicago to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, and also spoke at the city’s iBAM Conference.

He was a keynote speaker on the Paths to Freedom and Great War Roadshows, which toured Ireland between 2014 and 2019.

Turtle has also given talks on his books in New York, Paris, London, Dublin, Hilton Head, Limerick, Carlow, Cork, Kilkenny and Monte Carlo.

 

*****

 

The 2019 launch of the Past Tracks project at Plunket Station, Waterford.

INTERPRETATIVE DESIGN

 

Between 2019 and 2022, in a collaboration with Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), Turtle researched, wrote, produced and curated the installation of 50  individual history panels in 50 railway stations across the Republic of Ireland. A further 50 panels are presently taking shape.

He curated ‘A City By the Sea’ for St Peter’s, Cork City, which told the story of over 1000 years of Cork’s maritime history though the tales of the pirates, patriots, emigrants, queens, chancers & warriors who sailed upon the River Lee and beheld Cork City and Harbour in ages past. The exhibition was still on show at the church in 2023.

He curated an exhibition called ‘Cork 1918′ for St Peter’s, Cork City, which recounted the events of a year in which Cork and its harbour played a pivotal role in the First World War. As part of this exhibition, he produced a short film which, set against a backdrop of the Spanish Flu, the end of the war, a rising tide of feminism and an earth-shaking General Election, followed the exploits of some of the soldiers, politicians, suffragettes and rebels who made an impact over the course of 1918.

Turtle is a supporter of Irish Whiskey Assets, He was commissioned by 1751 to research the history of distilling in Ireland for both Slane Whiskey and Walsh’s Whiskey.

He has produced content for exhibitions and advertising campaigns for Maxol, Flahavan’s, Pernod-Ricard (Jameson), Irish Whiskey Assets, Brown-Forman (Slane Whiskey), Fáilte Ireland (Ireland’s Ancient East, Cork Harbour), LeisureWorld (St Peter’s Church), TellTale UK (Avondale),  Illva Saronno / 1751  (Royal Oak Distillery), Waterford Whiskey (Mark Reynier), Weir ‘s (jeweller) and Waterways Ireland (Maxmedia).

In collaboration with the Hidden Story, he provided consultancy services to tourism businesses and communities, including storytelling training, destination development and mentoring. Projects included a tourism destination feasibility study in the Lingaun Valley region with Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, storytelling workshops for Wexford County Council and ongoing consultancy work for First Western and Fáilte Ireland with clients such as Mosse Pottery.

He worked closely on interpretive design projects for Cork Harbour and Avondale House in County Wicklow for Telltale UK. Susan Cross, director of Telltale, wrote: ‘Turtle’s work meant our strategy was built on strong foundations. He combines research and communication skills with an excellent understanding of how to make the past compelling, especially to non-specialist audiences. He is a first class presenter, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and humorous. His condensed rollicking and brilliantly illustrated version of the complexity of Cork’s marine heritage and its contemporary relevance was important in demonstrating its value and potential to stakeholders.’

He provided extensive research for County Kildare’s Ancient East campaign, with articles on The Thoroughbred CountySacred KildareTales of Endurance & TragedyBig Houses & Hard Times and The Kings of Leinster.

 

*****

 

Turtle in discussion with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the 2013 History Festival.

PROJECTS PAST

 

Turtle co-founded the History Festival of Irelandbringing over 100 Irish and international historians and thinkers together in County Carlow over the course of three successful festivals between 2012 and 2014. The first one took place at Lisnavagh House, his family’s ancestral home in County Carlow. He curated the 2013 festival amid the splendid ruins of Duckett’s Grove in County Carlow, and supervised proceedings at the 2014 festival in Huntington Castle, County Carlow. 

Turtle was one of the early advisors on the excellent Flat Lake Literary Festival in County Monaghan. He has also been a consultant with the West Cork History Festival

Turtle founded Wistorical, an innovative concept for promoting Irish history globally.

He also founded ‘Your History in a Book’, creating thoroughly researched and handsomely illustrated family histories, presented as leather-bound books. In each instance, Turtle recounts the journey of a particular family from its earliest origins to the present generations. This is your history, expertly researched, and written as a highly readable and engaging epic. Illustrated with photographs of people and places, buildings and back drops, the result is a work that would invariably be amongst the family’s most important treasures – an invaluable record of their ancestors’ formative years.

As well as being homes editor of The White Book from 2005-2009, he was a guest blogger for the Irish Executives on LinkedIn, and a contributor to the Discover Ireland website, WorldIrish.com, Irish Family Names, the Wild Geese Blog and the Gathering Ireland 2013 campaign. He also talked about inspirational books with Daisy Banks of The Browser.

 

Foley 200 – Dublin Castle, 2018

 

Poster for the event marking John Henry Foley’s centenary, jointly curated by Turtle and Sé Merry Doyle in 2018.

John Henry Foley (1818-1874) was probably the most influential sculptor in Irish history. Born in Dublin, his breath-taking statues and equestrian masterpieces strode across city squares and parklands from Dublin to Kolkata to Virginia.

His best-known Irish works include the Daniel O’Connell monument on O’Connell Street and the Father Mathew statue in Cork. Queen Victoria personally requested Foley create the statue of her beloved husband for the Albert Memorial in London.

When Foley died, the queen decreed that the gifted Irishman be buried in Westminster Abbey, an extraordinary honour for a man born into relative poverty in Dublin’s northside.

To mark the bicentenary of Foley’s birth, Turtle Bunbury teamed up with Sé Merry Doyle of LoopLine Films and the Office of Public Works to host ‘Ireland Salutes John Henry Foley’, an afternoon of film, talks and debate at Dublin Castle, co-starring Dr Patrick Wallace, Dr Paula Murphy, Jason Ellis and Ronan Sheehan.

 

‘HOLD TO THE NOW, THE HERE, THROUGH WHICH ALL FUTURE PLUNGES TO THE PAST.’
JAMES JOYCE, ULYSSES  

 

Highlights of Recent Historical Consultancy

  • Irish Rail (2018-2024)
  • Waterways Ireland (2019-2024)
  • Naas Racecourse (2022-2024)
  • Maxol (2018-2023)
  • South Dublin County Council (2016-2022)
  • Adare Manor (2018-2020)
  • Tourism Ireland – St Patrick’s Festival (2018)
  • Who Do You Think You Are? USA (2015-2018)
  • Sotheby’s Ireland (2018)
  • Leisure World: ‘A City By the Sea’ and ‘Cork 1918’ (2017-2018)
  • O’Sullivan Productions – Series treatment (2017-2018)
  • Waterford Distillery – Historical Report (2017)
  • Telltale UK – Avondale Heritage Interpretation (2017)
  • Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (2016-2017)
  • University College Cork (2015-2017)
  • CHQ Dublin Ltd. – Historical Report (2016)
  • Ireland’s Ancient East – Kildare Fáilte (2016)
  • Slane Castle Irish Whiskey – Historical Report (2016)
  • Fáilte Ireland, The Maritime Heritage of Cork City & Harbour (2015)
  • National Diaspora Centre & Museum Content Advisory Group, Ireland (2015)

 

ON THE ROAD: From 2014 to 2016, Turtle toured Ireland as part of the Paths to Freedom and Great War Roadshows, speaking at events in Boyle, Sligo, Kells, Tallaght, Clonegal, Greystones, Dublin City, Thurles and Cavan. His fellow lecturers included Myles Dungan, Joe Duffy, Liz Gillis, John O’Keefe, Ciaran Wallace, Gordon Power & Damian Shiels.

Awards & Bursaries

 

  • Best Podcast Bronze: 2023 Digital Media Awards ( ‘Waterways Through Time’)
  • Gilmartin Medal, 2021
  • Irish Studies Distinguished Lecturer, Georgia Southern University, USA (2018)
  • 1916 Commemorative Speaker, Consul General of Ireland, Chicago (2016)
  • Travel Writer of the Year Award (Travel Extra, 2015, Shortlist)
  • Best Irish Published Book of the Year (2014, Shortlist)
  • Best Irish Published Book of the Year (2013, Shortlist)
  • Ireland Fund of Monaco Writer-in-Residence (2011)
  • Eason’s Irish Published Book of the Year (2010, Shortlist)
  • William Hill Sports Book of the Year (2010, Nominee)
  • Best Documentary Boston Irish Film Festival Award (2008, Shortlist)
  • Eason’s Irish Published Book of the Year (2007, Shortlist)
  • Travel Extra Long Haul Journalist of the Year (2006, Winner)

 

Education

  • Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (1991-1996, BA History)
  • University of Groningen, Netherlands (1994-1995, History)
  • Glenalmond College, Perthshire, Scotland (1985-1990)
  • Castle Park, Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland (1980-1985)

 

*****

FORMATIVE YEARS

Turtle was born on 21 February 1972 and raised at Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, Ireland. He received his early education in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, before moving to Castle Park School in Dublin. From 1980 to 1985, he was at Glenalmond College in the Scottish Highlands where he secured the necessary results to read law at Trinity College Dublin. He opted to postpone college and go traveling.

At the age of eighteen, he left Ireland for the U.S.A., working his way across the continent from New York to Los Angeles over three months. He subsequently spent six months in New Zealand and Australia, returning to Ireland, via Singapore and Malaysia, to commence his legal studies in Dublin. The law did not suit him and in 1994 Turtle happily transferred to history. He spent one year at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands before returning to Dublin to complete his degree at Trinity in 1996.

Armed with a degree in modern history from Trinity College Dublin, he moved to Hong Kong in 1996 and spent three years working as a freelance correspondent with the South China Morning Post and Business News Indochina. During this time he experienced an extraordinary period of history while attempting to establish a guesthouse in Cambodia in the same month that Pol Pot was captured. He also visited Vietnam, Thailand, Macau and Tokyo.

Returning to Ireland on the eve of the new millennium, he spent two years working with the travel company, Trailblazer.com, an early victim of the Dot Bomb crash of 2002. He simultaneously developed his interest in Irish and world history, travelling extensively, most notably in the USA, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, France and Australia.

 

*****

 

When Turtle was growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s, his family home at Lisnavagh House in County Carlow, Ireland, was a much admired high-end country retreat affiliated with the Hidden Ireland group. (It is now an upmarket wedding venue and yoga retreat). The experience of meeting so many guests gave him a keen sense of what they want and how they should be treated.

His subsequent travels brought him to villas and hotels across numerous countries and his work was featured in design magazines such as The World of Interiors, Vogue Living and Objekt, in-flight airline magazines such as Cara, Serendib and Identity, and newspapers including The Financial Times, The Irish Times, The Australian, The New York Post and the South China Morning Post. A number of these places featured in his books, ‘Living in Sri Lanka’ and ‘The Irish Pub’, written with the acclaimed photographer James Fennell.

He also reviewed hotels and guest-houses for the Alastair Sawday’s ‘Special Places to Stay‘ series.

 

*****

 

Sunday Independent, 2011. Photo: Gerry Moore.

On 20 May 2006, Turtle married Miss Ally Moore of Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan. Ally Bunbury is author of The Inheritance and Infidelity, which the Irish Independent describes as ‘a funny, escapist novel full of quirky twists and turns that leaves you wanting more.’

Their eldest daughter Jemima Meike McClintock Bunbury was born in Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda, Co Louth, on 17th June 2007. Their second daughter Bay Hermione McClintock Bunbury was born in Drogheda on 4th February 2009. Since 2007, the Bunburys have lived on the family estate at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, where they built a new house. The Bunburys moved into Oldfort in July 2008.

In 2010, Turtle was made a Knight of Justice of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. He was made an honorary member of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild in 2017, and launched Legacy whiskey in conjunction with the guild and Walsh Whiskey in 2023.

 

 

At work in the Lisnavagh library, circa 2009. Photo: Suki Stuart.

 

Poster for the ‘Paths to Freedom’ roadshow.

 

Speaking at Lyons. Photo: Nigel Gaunt.

 

Turtle Bunbury by the Oldfort Rath. Photo: Mark Condren. 24.3.2021.

 

At Rath Gall ringfort near his home in Tullow Co. Carlow. Photo: Dylan Vaughan.

 

Collage from the Bundoran talk in 2016 by Eugene Hamill.

 

Addressing the Friends of the National Library of Ireland at Lisnavagh House.

 

Turtle goes back to his Norman roots.

 

With freshly lasered eyes, on a Dublin Bridge. 14/10/2015
Photo: Fergal Phillips

 

Addressing the Butler Society at Lisnavagh, August 2015

 

Presenting his talk at the Chalke Valley History Festival in the UK, 2019.

 

Here’s to you – launching the Kilkenny Whiskey Trail in 2018. Photo: Leo Farrell.

 

Turtle with Sarah O Hanlon at Kehoe’s in South Anne Street, Dublin for the launch of the Powers Ireland’s Best Snug, 2011. Turtle was a judge. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Mugshot, 2017.

Raising money for Tullow School, May 2013.

 

Turtle with Joe Duffy at the Easter Dawn launch, 2015.

 

On the podium at the Sli Na Manach Book Launch at the Cistercian College, Roscrea. Photo: Brian Arthur.

 

Speaking about Past Tracks on Nationwide at Athy railway station, 2019.

 

At work in the Lisnavagh library, circa 2009. Photo: Suki Stuart.

 

Turtle and James Fennell at the launch of The Irish Pub book in the Guinness Storehouse in 2008. (Photo: Stu Carroll).

 

Turtle with John Foster filming ‘Antiques to the Rescue’ on the Thames in London.

 

Turtle and James Fennell, circa 2012.

 

Turtle with young Jemima Bunbury at the Vanishing Ireland book launch, 2009.

 

Turtle and James signing books at Vanishing Ireland launch.

 

Turtle circa 1998 by Amy McElroy.

 

In guise of Hunter Thompson, circa 1995, by Alice Beresford.

 

ADDITIONAL TESTIMONIALS (2018 & Earlier)

 

HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION

 

We commissioned Turtle Bunbury to conduct a comprehensive historical survey of the chq Building, now home to Epic – the Irish Emigration Museum. Turtle delved deep into every available archive and produced an extraordinary amount of hitherto unknown facts about the building and the businesses that operated there. We’ve been delighted to work with Turtle 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

It was a pleasure working with Turtle Bunbury and everyone at The Hidden Story on ‘A City on the Sea’, a martime history of Cork, which is now on show at St Peter’s Cork [2017-2018]. From the early stages of the project planning to the delivery on our launch night Turtle was professional, accessible and 100% reliable. He and the team at The Hidden Story are easy to talk to and are generous with their advice and experience. The team worked tirelessly to ensure the visual delivery and content of the exhibition met our expectations from the planning stage. The final product exceeded our expectations and we’d be happy to recommend Turtle Bunbury and The Hidden Story to our industry colleagues. We would certainly work with them in the future.
Eileen O’Shea
Programme & Events Manager
St. Peter’ Cork

Turtle Bunbury was the expert historian on the TellTale team who (working a consortium led by Cooney Architects) worked on the Interpretation Framework for Avondale House in 2017. Turtle’s ability to recognise a great story was invaluable, as was his rigorous, thorough and nuanced approach to the historical research. He has a great ability to make the past compelling to contemporary, non-specialist audiences without stretching the truth. We particularly valued his advice on dealing with sensitive issues without falling into sensationalism. He is a pleasure to work with: diligent, efficient humorous and courteous.
Susan Cross, Director, TellTale (telltale.co.uk)

County Kilkenny LEADER Partnership engaged the team at ‘The Hidden Story’ to carry out tourism destination feasibility work in the Lingaun Valley region. Jacqui, Turtle and Siobhán were very professional in their approach and were successful in engaging communities and businesses in this process. Our objectives were achieved and we believe the out-coming Action Plan provides an excellent roadmap for this region as it seeks to maximise its rural tourism potential and promote its ancient and sacred sites under the Ireland’s Ancient East brand. We would be happy to recommend the team at ‘The Hidden Story’.
Declan Rice
CEO, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

‘Turtle helped us produce Cork’s Maritime Heritage Visitor Experience Strategy for Fáilte Ireland. His work ensured the strategy was built on strong foundations of heritage understanding. He combines research and communication skills with an excellent understanding of how to make the past compelling and contemporary, especially to non-specialist audiences. He is a first class presenter, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and humorous.’
Susan Cross, Director, TellTale (telltale.co.uk)

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING

 

Just a note of thanks for speaking to the Hibernian Society of Savannah, Georgia on the occasion of our 206th Anniversary Dinner on St Patrick’s Day 2018. Your talk was very much enjoyed as obvious by the loud applause and prolonged standing ovation that you received. Your research into the history of Savannah, Georgia, and the U.S.A. from the Revolution, the Confederacy and the Irish Diaspora kept all in attendance enthralled from start to finish. Know that you have made many new friends and followers in this area. Dr. Howard Keeley was “spot on” when he assured the Speakers Committee that you would be a definite hit with the Hibernians, their guests and local dignitaries. You proved him right.’
Francis P. Rossiter, Jr., M.D.
Chair of the Speakers Committee, Hibernian Society of Savannah, 2018.

It was great to have you & all the comments afterwards were very positive. Everybody in the audeince was most impressed and throughly enjoyed your presentation.
John Farrell,
O’Farrell Clan Rally, 2018

The entire double clan very much enjoyed your talk and your research. We are all grateful !
Michael Potter, Geeks Without Frontiers
McCarthy Family Rally, 2018

Thank you so much for your presentation. The clients loved it, we got lots of great feedback.
Yvonne Colucci, Director, Odyssey International Incentives & Meetings
Securian Financial Group Conference 2017.

Many thanks for your talk which I really enjoyed. We got very good feedback on all aspects.
Brian Tyrrell, SEO, Municipal District of Kilkenny City
Travel Classics – International Writers Conference 2017.

You were fantastic, so engaging, I really enjoyed your talk, you make history so interesting.
Grace Quinn, Yulefest KilkennyTravel Classics – International Writers Conference 2017.

I very much appreciated and enjoyed your fleet-footed and fact-friendly talk. You had quite a challenge with that crew. You pulled it off with charm, wit and expertise.
George Stone, editor-in-chief, National Geographic Traveler

Travel Classics – International Writers Conference 2017.

Turtle Bunbury joined us for the centrepiece of the 1916 Easter Rising commemoration programme in Chicago at the prestigious Chicago Cultural Center in June 2016. He delivered an excellent presentation which appealed to an audience which ranged from those who knew little of Irish history to descendants of participants in the 1916 Rising – a difficult feat, managed with aplomb. He had considered what would be of interest to a US Midwest audience and undertook further research to highlight aspects with particular local resonance. Turtle was in great demand at his book-signing thereafter as so many of the attendees were interested in continuing the discussion of Irish history and asking him about his upcoming projects.
Consul General Orla Mc Breen
Consulate General of Ireland to Chicago & the US Midwest.

The historian Turtle Bunbury gave the pre-dinner talk for the Cruise Europe Conference in Dublin in May 2016. The guests numbered 170 and included representatives from ten of the major cruise lines in addition to 20 different nationalities from the ports of Europe. Turtle’s brief was to give them a historical overview of Dublin and he achieved this in a succinct, brilliant and frequently funny manner. He certainly brought the history “alive” and particularly to the audience who were in a “social” mood and not prone to listening to history in a lecture format. I would have no hesitation in recommending Turtle. This man is one to watch.
Captain Michael McCarthy
Chairman Cruise Europe
Commercial Manager Port of Cork

Your presentation went down a treat, as did your genial presence.
Myles Dungan,
Festival Curator,
Hinterland 2017

Turtle Bunbury was invited by me to give the 2017 SSAFA Lecture at the Mansion House in Dublin. Following the British Ambassador’s very successful lecture on the Battle of Jutland last year, Turtle Bunbury was the 7th in a line of distinguished speakers from both Britain and Ireland to give this annual fund raising lecture. It attracted a capacity audience. Turtle’s subject was “The Fighting Irish” which provided an intriguing look at the experiences of Irish soldiers and their commanders from the Tudor Age to the Great War. Turtle is well known as a collector of other people’s memories which he then converts to stories. In this lecture he resurrected some of the less well known and unusual stories from Ireland’s military past and produced a rich tapestry of enthralling tales, in turn scholarly, anecdotal, serious and light hearted but always entertaining: his audience loved it and left asking for more. It was a privilege as well as a pleasure to be able to listen to such a natural and accomplished story teller. He is truly a ‘National Treasure’.
Colonel Richard Kinsella-Bevan
President, SSAFA – Forces Help, Republic of Ireland

Turtle gave two presentations at IBAM, an Irish American cultural event in Chicago in October, 2016. I attended both presentations and was very impressed with him. As a former teacher of teens for many years, I admired his rapport with the audience. He was friendly and pleasant and the audience felt this. People paid close attention and nobody left early. Turtle’s presentations were lively and focused. I’d attend them again.
Frank West
Irish American News

Most enjoyable.
Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services, Dublin Port Company
Cruise Europe Conference, 2016

Thank you for a wonderfully interesting, entertaining and enlightening talk tonight in Bellingham Castle. I received feedback from very many people that they all enjoyed it immensely. You gave us a great opportunity to get this rather eclectic community together in support of a very worthy cause. Understanding that you have a very busy schedule makes us appreciate all the more your coming to help us with Drumcar.
Luke Torris
Annagassan Historical Society

We were delighted to have Turtle Bunbury as one of our keynote speakers at the Drew University Transatlantic Connections Conference in 2016. Our delegates were treated to an enlightening and entertaining talk on Easter 1916, and the consensus by all was that it was one of the highlights of the conference.
Niamh Hamill, Ph.D.
Director of the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland

Many, many thanks for coming to our festival and giving such a wonderful and interesting presentation so early on a Sunday morning. The connections between people and places in Ireland are sometimes mindboggling, certainly your family connections with Lismore were a big surprise for many.
Jan Rotte
Lismore Immrama Festival Of Travel Writing 2016.

Turtle’s performance at EIF2016 beautifully married our business conference themed “The Road To Risk Revolution” with the events of the 1916 Rising which we were noting. His piece was particularly thoughtful for our overseas visitors, with its mix of history and whimsy, bringing events to life through characters and personalities. He is as at ease entertaining international audiences as a local and domestic one. This is history made accessible, enjoyable and interesting. As an event organiser, Turtle is equally a pleasure to deal with; responsive and flexible. I would thoroughly recommend him for such events.
Una Coleman
Training, Education & Conference Manager, DIMA (Dublin International Insurance & Management Association)

Turtle was one of two contributors to an event commemorating the Battle of the Somme from an Irish perspective which I organised in June 2016 in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. The evening was chaired by the British Ambassador to Ireland and the audience was varied-some scholars, some enthusiasts, many people simply curious about what has become an era of great interest. Turtle’s contribution (both presenting and in the Q & As) was engaging, professional and personal and he connected well with the audience. It was a very successful evening.
John McDowell
Bishop of Clogher

Turtle somehow managed to captivate a group filled with some of the most creative and accomplished entrepreneurs on the planet. His tour of Dublin was just perfect.
Paddy Cosgrave
Web Summit 2015

Your lecture could not have given more pleasure to our members – I have had so much positive feedback.
Christopher Monkhouse
Eloise W. Martin Chair & Curator of European Decorative Arts, Art Institute, Chicago, 2015.

Turtle Bunbury is an engaging, entertaining and erudite speaker. As a popular author and TV personality, he has added hugely to the attractiveness of various Pegasus lecture tours, including ‘The Great War Roadshow’ and ‘Paths To Freedom’. Pegasus is happy to recommend him to both general and academic audiences.
John O’Keeffe,
MD Pegasus Consulting, 2015.

Turtle’s speech was just right … a fascinating spin through the history … it really added to our event and engaged our guests in a fun and informative way. Everyone really enjoyed it.
Niamh Donnellan
Project Manager, Heritage Council, Ireland – Launch of 2015 National Heritage Week.

Turtle Bunbury kindly spoke at an event in Maynooth University co-sponsored by the University Library and the Institute for Digital Humanities (An Foras Feasa) related to the launch of digitised World War 1 diary – the Woodman diary, and the donation of the physical artefact to the Library. He proved an excellent speaker, witty and erudite and managing to impart valuable information in a manner that was never pompous or didactic. His knowledge and learning was obvious but, coupled with his humour ensured that the crowd came away both amused but, critically, enlightened. What was equally apparent was his comfort in this role; he quickly held the audience in the palm of his hand and I suspect all would have happily listened for far longer than his allocated time.
Hugh Murphy
Maynooth University, 2015
.

Turtle Bunbury lectured on Irish social history for this Society in the USA on 22 and 23 October 2012. The lectures were held at the University Club in New York, and at the Casino Club in Chicago, to a total of 300 of our American members. They and our American board members fully approved of and enjoyed Mr. Bunbury’s content and delivery.
Patrick Guinness
President, Irish Georgian Society

Turtle was our Ireland Fund of Monaco ‘Writer-in-Residence’ at the Princess Grace Irish Library in 2011. During his residency, he gave two first-rate talks. He is deeply passionate about his subjects and his passion is contagious. We received tremendous feedback after each talk.
Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco)
Judith Gantley

 

RADIO

 

The feedback on Twitter and word of mouth about Hidden Histories has been fantastic. People tell me that they look forward to it every week, and how different it is from anything else.
Newstalk 106,
Turtle Bunbury’s Hidden Histories Radio show
Niamh Hassell, producer, Newstalk Breakfast

 

WISTORICAL

 

Wistorical (Turtle Bunbury’s blog on Facebook) is something utterly unique in the online world: it makes history, and genealogy, cool. Turtle has managed to massage the modern curiosity of celebrity, scandal, rogues and nostalgia into a perfect historical whole that reminds us all how engaging history can be … Turtle’s project has reached out not only to Irish nationals, but to an international audience who are familiar with Ireland but are utterly unfamiliar with the knowledge that Turtle considers self-evident. He is a walking encyclopaedia of the kind of information that gets people curious about Ireland. The stories on Wistorical are bait for those who are already keen on Ireland as somewhere to visit. This is a special project, product, combining initiative and social record. For now it is confined to Ireland, but I quite honestly see this as being applicable to any country on earth. People think they know their history, their country and their people. Turtle knows even more and what better way to share his knowledge than Wistorical and Facebook.
Irish Family Names
David Fallon,
Senior Editor & Project Manager,
Maxmedia Ireland

 

COMMISSIONED BOOKS

 

See also relevant remarks for books such as Easter DawnThe Glorious Madness, the Vanishing Ireland series, Living in Sri Lanka and The Irish Pub.

In my experience as publisher, Mr Bunbury’s attributes include: a true researcher’s curiosity to increase our knowledge about the past; an ability to communicate with great fluency his material and ideas; and a commitment to his subjects that makes him worthy of the title ‘passionate scholar’. Jamie Camplin, Managing Director, Thames & Hudson.

Turtle recently documented my Dad’s memoirs spanning over 88 years. We had heard many a story over the years, but it was something special to have them preserved in this way, not only for my own siblings, but my dad’s grandchildren and great grand kids in the years ahead.This is truly something special, as is Turtle in the manner and way he approached the job at hand. Aside from his fantastic research skills and inquisitive questions, Turtle is one of life’s gentlemen as is my Dad who really enjoyed meeting Turtle and particularly how he made my Dad feel at complete ease during his chats, which was most important. I would highly recommend the recording of such memories, they are a real treasure and a great read too. It goes without saying Turtle is the man for the job.
Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services, Dublin Port Company.

Thank you more especially for all of your interest, dedication and hard work on behalf of Clonmel Show. 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, Clonmel Show.

Turtle Bunbury was appointed to produce a history of the Dublin Docklands by a public tender which attracted 14 submissions. During the course of researching and writing this book, he developed an in-depth understanding of the many facets of the Docklands project and created a work, which comprehensively covers the history of the area, its people and industries. Most importantly the Docklands Authority and community were hugely impressed with this chronicle of the area, by its accuracy, its depth and presentation. The images, design and overall layout all added up to produce a very attractive publication. We would be delighted to recommend Mr. Bunbury for similar projects.
Dublin Docklands Development Authority
Loretta Lambkin, Director of Arts & Marketing

Turtle Bunbury was commissioned to write the history of the O’Leary family eight weeks before Christmas. The book was thoroughly researched, well written and beautifully produced. For anyone who would like to have their family history researched and written, I whole-heartedly recommend Turtle Bunbury.
Michael O’Leary
CEO of Ryanair

We commissioned Turtle Bunbury in 2012 to research & write the history of 32 locations across Dublin City for a book to accompany the opening of the new stadium tours at Croke Park. Turtle completed the project efficiently, accurately, on time and in a very personable manner. It was a pleasure to work with him and we were very happy with the final book.
Mark Dorman,
Museum Director, Croke Park

 

PRIVATE HISTORIES

 

Having never embarked upon something of this magnitude before I did not quite know what to expect, particularly considering the fact that Turtle lives in Ireland, I am in the United States, and we have never met. However, whatever apprehension I had was soon gone. 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. I can’t begin to tell you have many email messages we have sent back and forth across the Atlantic, or how many messages and/or phone calls Turtle must have made while carrying out his research. He has been as anxious as I have to ensure every available lead, clue and possibility has been thoroughly explored and brought to conclusion. Turtle often told me that he was going to amaze and dazzle me. He has done both, 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. It is my hope that all those of Crampton / Foster Heritage who read this book, will find Turtle’s manuscript as educational and rewarding as I have.
Bruce Crampton
Australian PGA golfer.

The perfect present for the person who has everything! We asked Turtle to undertake this as a surprise for my Dad’s 70th birthday and he was delighted with the result – “Copperminers and Sheepfarmers”. It has already been read and enjoyed by relations far and wide . It is wonderful to have our family history formally recorded in such a personal way for posterity. Thanks Turtle for a brilliant job!
Grainne Butler, Dublin.

The family history compiled by Turtle was intriguing, accurate and packed with interesting information and insight into the life and times of my predecessors. Turtle is clearly immersed in his subject matter, and thorough in his investigations, taking great pride in his work. Another great feature is that Turtle can write up your history very quickly indeed. I would highly recommend Turtle’s service to anyone who wants to bring their family tree to life and to have this pictorial essay to pass on to other family members.
Jo Lynch, Dublin.

We all enjoyed the book immensely. You did a wonderful job, as the book chronicles parts of Irish heritage and culture that would have otherwise been forgotten in years to come.
Leon de Barra

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the read … a really excellent addition to what has been written on the family.’
Richard Wingfield, Reading

A fascinating read, well-written and extensively researched.
Jocelyn Wingfield, UK

Wonderfully written, excellent research, sterling work.
Elizabeth Alexander, Carlow

Well written and accurate.
Mallica Childers, New York

Brilliant! A great job. Most informative and entertaining.
Ann Tighe, Wexford

Written beautifully.
Joe Twitchen

As a researcher in the Ulster American Folk Park researching the MacCulloch family of Ballyarton, I found your McClintock detail most interesting and helpful.
Frank Collins

I really enjoyed your essay on the de Burghs of Oldtown.
Edmond O’Dea

Just a note to say that you’re an inspiration! Your website is gorgeous, as is the Pubs book and your family, and your history is clever, interesting, and sound.
Noelle Sullivan, Montana

 

EARLY YEARS

 

In 1990, eighteen-year-old Turtle joined his incorrigible friend Tim Slingsby on a 11 month tour of the world that saw them drive coast to coast across the USA, master poker faces in Hawaii, chase sheep in New Zealand, harvest cotton in Australia and battle the waves in Malaysia and Thailand.

Six years later, Turtle moved to Hong Kong, where he lived for nearly three years. During this time he traveled in Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Japan.

Accompanied by the photographer James Fennell, he went on assignments to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Gozo and the Czech Republic between 2000 and 2014.

In 2009, he published a series of stories on his adventures in Sicily and Nova Scotia. Further articles on an Australia visit followed in 2012. He has traveled to Chicago, New York and Georgia multiple times since 2012. While the father of two has a strong focus on Ireland, he is always open to suggestions.