IEN: Who are you and where you based ?
TB: My name is Turtle Bunbury. I’m an author & historian based in County Carlow, Ireland. My books include the award-winning ‘Vanishing Ireland’ series and, as a freelance writer, I’ve written for The Australian, The Irish Times, The World of Interiors, National Geographic, Vogue Living, The Financial Times & Playboy.
I founded and curate The History Festival of Ireland and I’m a co-presenter of RTE One’s ‘Genealogy Roadshow’. I am also founder of Wistorical, an innovative project to promote History globally.
IEN: When did you join Irish Executives and why ?
TB: I joined in March 2013 because word has it this is where I’d find a forward-thinking, internationally minded group of people with an interest in Ireland and Irish history.
IEN: Why this passion for History?
TB: I was bought up in a historic house (Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow), surrounded by portraits and ancient furniture. I wanted to know who the people in the portraits were.
That got me hooked on history early on and, while I initially read Law at Trinity for two years, I then moved stage left and transferred to History. Ireland is a fantastic place to be a historian because it’s not just the story of Ireland – it’s also the story of the Irish abroad and our exceptional impact all over the world.
IEN: What are the main challenges for a writer in modern Ireland?
TB: Old style publishing is a goner, be it writing books or working freelance. Writers need to join the digital revolution, master the new social mediums, understand the ever-evolving publishing options, relish the new ways of connecting to global networks. There’s plenty to be excited about but its all still unchartered territory.
IEN: What is on your horizon for the next 12 months?
TB: Wistorical is developing a historical app which will ultimately enable anyone with an interest in history – including tourists – to learn about the places they are walking or driving through by simply clicking a button visiting Wistorical online. We’ll start with Ireland, because that’s the perfect testing ground.
Although the Wistorical project officially started in November 2012, I’ve been effectively gathering data for it for over 20 years. There’s hardly an inch of Ireland that the foot of history has not trodden upon. I’ve written a massive amount about Ireland (and the Irish overseas) over the years. That information will form the key source for Wistorical. For instance, I have been making daily posts on the Wistorical Facebook page for 6 months, linking places around the world through their common history. We’re on target for 8,000 followers by early June.
By connecting locations around the world, Wistorical enables the Irish diaspora to plug into their ancestral past and gain some insight on the where their forebears came from.
As well as the app, I’m developing an on-line Wistorical shop, which will focus on historical products – Wistorical books, podcasts, niche apps and such like. The shop will incorporate an online version of the app and there will be room for specific advertising here also.
Aside from Wistorical, I’m curator of the 2013 History Festival of Ireland, which takes place at Duckett’s Grove, near Castledermot, Co. Carlow, on the weekend of 15-16 June 2013. We’ve a fantastic line up of historians and other speakers, and I’ve also booked 20 hours of sunshine. One massive benefit of being curator is that I am now closely connected to many branches of Ireland’s historical community with whom I hope to work closely with for Wistorical.
This autumn sees the launch of the second TV series of the Genealogy Roadshow on RTE, as well as the 4th volume of the Vanishing Ireland book series. The best thing about both of those is that my work on them is already done – so I can reap the benefits and carry on focusing on Wistorical.