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The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Wicklow – Reviews

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Only a year after the publication of his Kildare volume, Turtle Bunbury has produced another book detailing the eccentricities and preoccupations of the landed gentry in Co. Wicklow. Deeply peculiar, quietly amusing and written with great style
The Dubliner

‘Exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated
The Irish Times

“Excellent content and thorough research presented in a reader accessible fashion”
Hugh Oram


The Irish Times (March 2007)
(Reviewed alongside The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy of Co Meath, Volume I by Art Kavanagh, Irish Family Names)
There are few true aristocrats in Ireland today and gentry, landed or otherwise, are equally thin on the ground. Yet it is still interesting to read about those who did, and do, lay claim to such titles. Turtle Bunbury and Art Kavanagh (themselves bearers of historic names) bring us back to the heydays (and low days) of lords, earls, viscounts, baronets and other “gentlefolks” of the counties of Wicklow and Meath. Many, if not most, of these people, as in almost every county in Ireland, acquired their titles and lands in one of just a few ways, through conquest, confiscation and plantation, royal favour, descent and inter-marriage, while not a few estates were actually purchased. We’re talking, of course, of the centuries of English rule in Ireland and of those who benefited therefrom. Nineteen of Co Meath’s prominent families are dealt with in Art Kavanagh’s first volume on that county, while Turtle Bunbury, in this first Co Wicklow volume, details the history of just nine of that county’s principal land-owning families. Both books are exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated. Read and see how the other 10 per cent lived not so long ago. (Richard Roche)

Irelands Antiques & Period Properties (November 2005)
Turtle Bunbury loves writing about the aristocracy; recently, he chronicled the great landowning families of Co Kildare in amazing detail. Now, his next book is being printed, ready for publication in December. The new book will be called “The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy of County Wicklow” and will chronicle the lives and doings of nine of Wicklow’s most prominent families, including the Viscounts Powerscourt and the Earls of Meath and Wicklow. It will include many rare and fascinating photographs. Turtle has investigated the lives of three different Erskine Childers; the Baltinglass man who commanded the artillery at El Alamein and the girl who inspired Mary Shelley to write. Among the great characters who will people the pages of this book is the 8th Earl of Wicklow, otherwise Billy Wicklow. Well- known in artistic and literary circles in Dublin, he frequented many of Dublin’s best known literary pubs. Billy Wicklow was one of the great characters of Dublin, of a type no longer seen around the city streets and hostelries. The family estate, at Shelton Abbey, was declared bankrupt in 1951 and eventually became an open prison. (Hugh Oram)

Carlow Nationalist (November 16th 2005)
Ireland’s first amateur radio transmitter was built by a Colonel Meade Dennis at his Fortgranite home near Baltinglass and who went on to establish contact with a radio amateur in Australia. It was all done with a chip of crystal (lead sulphide) he found on his farm, a very high aerial, a few twists of wire, a cat’s whisker and a great deal of ingenuity. The story of the transmitter and the Dennis family is just one of the fascinating passages in a beautifully illustrated book due to be published in December. Entitled ‘The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Wicklow’, the book abounds in rare photographs and records the family histories of nine of the most prominent landowning families in County Wicklow.
Inevitably, the Viscounts Powerscourt and their neighbours, the Earls of Meath and Wicklow are included. The author mentions that among the other illustrious Wicklow characters are “the epic lives of the three Erskine Childers, the general who commanded the artillery at El Alamein (North Africa WW2), the girl who inspired Mary Shelley to write, the clergyman who taught the Bronte’s father to read and the Baltinglass soldier who made radio contact with Australia”.The pages also cover the botanical genius who helped create Kilmacurragh gardens, the Glendalough man who ‘took on the Zulus’, the Madame of Humewood whose father surrendered Paris to the Germans and the playboy who became devoted to the Dublin pubs in the 1950s. Turtle Bunbury, the author of ‘Landed Gentry’, was educated in Dublin and Scotland and then became a freelance correspondent with the South China Morning Post and Business News Indochina. (William Paterson)




Great to have all of these stories documented at a time when all the old estates are being bought up for golf courses or whatever.
Liam Kenny, Co. Kildare

Turtle Bunbury holds an extraordinary talent in making historical facts accessible to people who may find the past rather overbearing. His style is swift, charismatic and above all else, passionate and respectful for people who made an impact in Irish society. Perhaps, someday soon, Turtle should turn his hand to fiction? I sense this author has a wonderful future ahead of him.
Sarah Fairchild, Gloucestershire

A highly enjoyable and absorbing book, and obviously fantastically well researched. A real treat!
Ralph Fielding, New York, USA

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

A most fascinating book. Turtle Bunbury illuminates the past in a thoroughly refreshing manner.
Margaret Edwards, Aberdeen

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

An enjoyable read, with great attention to detail!
Mathew McCauley, Dublin

‘Finally got a copy of your Wicklow book, very good indeed, a nice follow on from Sheila Wingfield’s books’ – Karl Henry, Dublin.

A nicely produced & well researched book, in the spirit of the classic -gone publishers, such as John Murray et al.
Louis Hemmings, Dublin

Greatly enjoyed the ‘Wicklow’ volume. As before, Turtle has managed to winkle out some of the more interesting – and lesser known – stories relating to these families. This ensures that as well as being a good reference work, it is also a good read! Also, the fact that he brings the family concerned right up to date, renders a valuable – and timely – service.
Brian McCabe, Kildare

Its really great to see the past coloured in like that … I look forward to Volume 2!

Charles O’Brien, Arklow

Mary Rose Everan, Co. Kildare.