Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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(1848 - 1929)



1. THE FORMATIVE YEARS (1848-1866)
4. BILLY'S DEATH & THE EVE OF WAR (1900-1913)
5. WORLD WAR ONE (1914-1918)

7. THE IRISH CIVIL WAR (1922-1923)
8. TWILIGHT & EPILOGUE (1924-1960)

These pages will be consistently updated.
Comments, updates and corrections are much appreciated



1. THE FORMATIVE YEARS (1848-1866)



November 3: Marriage of Tom's parents, Captain William McClintock (Bunbury) and Pauline, second daughter of Sir James Matthew Stronge of Tynan Abbey, Co. Armagh.


May 28: Death of Thomas Bunbury, of Lisnavagh, Tory MP for Carlow, in his 71st year, at his residence, 14 Crawford Street, Portman Square. His nephew Captain William McClintock assumes name of McClintock Bunbury in compliance with the will. Captain Bunbury also wins a by-election for Thomas' parliamentary seat and continues to represent Co. Carlow at Westminster for the next 16 years.

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Tom's father Captain William Bunbury
sailed the Pacific Ocean alongside
Darwin and Fitzroy in the 1830s. He
built Lisnavagh House in the 1840s and
was MP for Carlow at the time of Tom's
birth in 1848 .

August 4: First passenger train in Carlow, getting people to the Ballybar Races. By the late 19th century there are seven train stations in Carlow.


January 21: The foundation stone of the New House at Lisnavagh is laid.

Birth of Lord Iveagh and Sir Algernon Coote (1847-1920), the latter being at Eton at the same time as Tom.

October 13: Charles FitzGerald, Marquis of Kildare (and later Duke of Leinster) married at Trentham, Staffordshire, England, to Lady Caroline Leveson-Gower daughter of George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland and Lady Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Howard. They had fifteen children, including Lady Geraldine FitzGerald (c. 1848-1867) and Gerald, the 5th Duke (1851- 1893) who would have been contemporaries of Tom and Jack Bunbury.

The Carlow Sentinel, October 1847. 'Sudden death of a soldier. One of the soldiers of the 3rd Buffs, quartered in this town, while dancing in a public house, belonging to a man named Parkes, in Coal-market, on Tuesday evening last, suddenly dropped on the floor, and on raising him it was found that life was extinct. The young man was about twenty four years of age, apparently strong and healthy, but had dissipated habits.' (From PPP)


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Above: Lisnavagh House was, built by Tom Rathdonnell's father at the time of his birth. This side of the house has since
been demolished, including the windows out which someone is gazing out at the camera. The terraces are now
where people park their cars at 21st century weddings.

1848 - Year of Tom Rathdonnell's Birth

1848 was a year of revolutions throughout continental Europe. For a short period, absolutist governments were replaced by liberal administrations, near universal suffrage was introduced and elections were held to constituent assemblies to draw up new national constitutions. In England, the Chartists rebelled for equal votes for all but are brutally crushed so they don't arise again until 1918.It was sometimes described as the "springtime of the people." Ireland was still reeling from the effects of a devastating potato blight and the death of Daniel O'Connell.

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Tom Bunbury as boy.

February 24: King Louis-Philippe of France abdicates and the Second Republic is proclaimed in Paris. This revolution sends political sent political shock waves across Europe, and revolutions broke out in Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Prague, Budapest and Kraków.

April 5: 2nd Lieutenant Leopold McClintock (the future Admiral), whom TKMB's father taught how to sail, sets off for the Arctic on the HMS Enterprise, commanded by Sir James Ross, in pursuit of the fate of the late Sir John Franklin.

July 23 - 29: William Smith O'Brien launches short-lived Young Ireland rebellion.

August 26: TK's uncle John McClintock celebrates his 50th birthday.

November 22: Sir Hugh Gough (the future Viscount), cousin of TKMB's father, defeats an army of rebelling Sikhs at Ramnuggar, thus consolidating Britain's commercial and political dominance in India.

November 29: Birth of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, eldest son of Captain William McClintock Bunbury of Lisnavagh and his wife, Pauline (nee Stronge, of Tynan Abbey). It is to be noted that there is a reference to another Thomas Bunbury born on 3 May 1847 in Captain Bunbury's 1847 diary, for whom Sir James Stronge, Kane Bunbury and Lady Erne stood as godparents, and who was named for the Captain's late uncle Thomas, but is this one and the same boy or did the older Thomas perish as a baby?


Captain Bunbury celebrates his 50th birthday.


August 16: Birth of Gerald FitzGerald, later 5th Duke of Leinster.

September 1: Birth of Tom's only brother, John William ("Jack") McClintock Bunbury.


Lord Downshire recommends Tom's uncle, John McClintock, for a peerage.
Captain and Mrs Bunbury celebrate 10 years of marriage.


Oct 8: Birth of Tom's first cousin Frank McClintock, aka Rev. Francis George Le Poer McClintock, Rector of Drumcar, and Dean of Armagh, third son of Major Henry and Mrs. Gertrude McClintock. His two brothers are at least 11 and 9 years older than him.


Oct 25: Amongst those who survived the famous British Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava was Daniel Dowling from Carlow.


July 5: Death of Tom's paternal grandfather, John McClintock, MP, of Drumcar.

October: The 3rd Baron de Robeck’s life ended sadly when, after he had been missing for eleven days, his body was found in the River Liffey near the Salmon Leap. He and his second wife Emily (nee Henry) had been living in nearby Leixlip Castle for several years. The family fortune and the baronetcy now passed onto his firstborn son by Margaret Lawless, John Henry Fock, 4th Baron de Robeck. The 26-year-old had already shown his financial acumen when, just months before his father died, he married Sophia Burton, the daughter of a wealthy County Carlow landowner.

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This is believed to be Tom Bunbury
at the time he went to Eton.


July 29: Tom's 36-year-old uncle Rev. Robert McClintock marries Maria Susan Heyland, only daughter of Charles Alexander Heyland.


March 3: France and Britain declare War on China.

April 30: At the General Election, Captain William McClintock Bunbury and Henry Bruen (Tory) returned unopposed for Carlow County. Tom's uncle John McClintock and Chichester Fortescue win the Louth seats. However, the Whigs, led by Lord Palmerston, finally win a majority in the House of Commons as the Tory vote fell significantly.

May 10: Outbreak of Indian Mutiny. Charles Gough wins Victoira Cross at Siege of Lucknow, saving the life of his brother, Sir Hugh Gough, who also won a VC. The brothers were sons of Judge George Gough, grandsons of Thomas Gough, Dean of Derry, and great-nephews of the Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough.

Tom Browne's Schooldays published. Five editions and 11,000 copies had sold by November; 28,000 by the end of 1862.

The 4th Baron de Robeck puts his riches into a pot and commissions Dublin architect John McCurdy to design a new mansion on the de Robeck family lands at Swordlestown, right beside the Punchestown racecourse.


August 26: Tom's uncle John McClintock celebrates 60th birthday.



In September 1859, Tom went to Eton, starting in the Rev. J.W. Hawtrey’s, which was effectively a separate house for the younger boys, with Dr Edmund Warre (1837-1920) as his tutor. He subsequently had the good fortune to be moved into Dr. Warre's house at a time when Warre's was at the zenith of its success in both scholarship and sport. His brother John joined him in Warre's in September 1865. During the 1860s, there were 7,500 boys at boarding school in England, all being groomed to become colnial governors, parliamentary statesmen, senior ecclesiastics and dastardly lawyers. Christianity was of the essence. There was also an eruption of new schools at this time, reinforcing the Class system as a new 'Middle Class' evolved.

According to The Times, the McClintock Bunburys and Dr Warre were cousins but I'm none too sure about this. Dr Warre was a schoolmaster much in the same vein as Thomas Arnold, the man who single-handedly revived public schools when he took over Rugby in 1828. (Public schools had been on the slide since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. For instance, by 1835, Charterhouse was down to 99 pupils). Central to this new era was the notion of team-sport, the idea that people could and should play together, as kindred souls, for a common goal. When you went out to bat, you were part of a team. Prior to this, sport had tended to be about boxing, racing and personal achievement – all conducive to gambling. The team spirit – or Muscular Christianity as some call it – ignited across the Victorian Empire and spread from Bennetsbridge and Drumcar to the farthest reaches of Ceylon and South America. Dr Warre certainly subscribed to this point of view. He was elected Headmaster in 1884, a position which he retained until 1905. After a period of retirement he was in 1909 appointed provost of Eton in succession to Dr. James Hornby, but during the greater part of his provostship he was incapacitated by ill health from taking any very active part in the government of the school. He took much interest in sport at Eton, and the high standard of rowing to which the Eton eights, including Jack and Tom Bunbury, attained was due in a large measure to his coaching. Rowing was a particularly exclusive sport and nobody who had ever been employed in manual labour was allowed to row. S.D. Muttlebury recalled practicing in a stationary gig without footstraps, with Warre laying his hand on Muttle’s foot during the recovery and saying: “Your feet look right, but you are still trying to pull up with your great toe.” “I thought it a fad then,” wrote Muttlebury, “but I am convinced that it is one of the most important points in rowing.” From 1860 to 1884, when Warre became headmaster and passed the coaching baton to S.A. Donaldson, Warre “was practically alone on the towpath” and turned out a succession of eights for Henley starting in 1861, all trained more or less identically, all more or less successful. (see: The Rowers of Vanity Fair; http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/The_Rowers_of_Vanity_Fair/Warre_E).

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I'm not sure what school this is but I think that's Tom standing on the far right.

As his brother Jack and son William would later be, Tom was a self-elected member of Pop, aka the Eton Society, members of which were entitled to wear checked spongebag trousers, and a waistcoat designed as they wish, as well as the right to furl their umbrellas and sit upon the wall on the Long Walk, in front of the main building. Pop’s less charming side involved their caning sessions, known as ‘Pop-Tanning’, in which ‘a large number of very hard strokes were inflicted by the President of Pop in the presence of all Pop members. The culprit was summoned to appear in a pair of old trousers, as the caning would cut the cloth to shreds and leave the boy's buttocks bleeding’.

One of Tom's classmates was the fun-loving and handsome boatsman Bill Farrer, aka the Rev William Farrer (d. 1934). (There were seven Farrer’s at Eton in 1874). Tom was apparently rather poor at Latin and used to solicit Bill’s help with his homework. When Dr Warre was elected Provost of Eton forty years later, he received a letter of congratulations from Tom containing what The Times described as ‘verses written in the doggiest of schoolboy Latin’:

‘T. Bunbury.
Nun redit in proprium regnum Caput Ipse Magister,
Tutoremque Bello et Ludentia Prata salutem,
Murus et exclamat ‘Dulce redire Domum’;
Gaudet Etona omnis; Domini puerique juvantur;
Nunc Ursoe redeunt in sua tecta duo.
Please Sir, I hadn't time to do any more.

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Presumably Eton, I am unsure whether Tom Bunbury is standing second from right or seated front row, third from left.

Dr Warre wrote to thank Tom for his kind words. Tom replied that he hadn’t written them at all and it was only when Charles Fletcher’s Life of Warre was published that it was revealed that Bill Farrer was the culprit. (See Bill Farrer’s obituary, The Times, Thursday, Nov 29, 1934; pg. 19; Issue 46924; col B)

Tom remained at Eton until July 1868.


Captain Bunbury celebrates his 60th birthday.

Leopold McClintock knighted for his services in discovering the fate of the Franklin Expedition.


April 12: Death of Tom's maternal grandmother, Isabella, Lady Stronge.

August 22: British royal yacht arrives in Dún Laoghaire carrying Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert for an 8-day visit.

August 25: Queen Victoria arrived at Killarney Station with her husband and four of their children. They spent their first night with Viscount Castlerosse (Valentine Augustus Browne), and his wife Gertrude, at the original Killarney House. Valentine was the eldest son of Thomas 3rd Earl of Kenmare, an elderly gentleman who spent little time at Killarney. Killarney House (also, confusingly, known as Kenmare House) was demolished in the early 1870s when the family moved to a new red brick mansion, overlooking the Lakes of Killarney, close to Killarney Cathedral. When this red-brick mansion was burnt down in 1913, the family converted the stable-block of the earlier 18th century house into a residence. It is still called Killarney House today. (Understandably there is always a great deal of confusion concerning these three different residences.)

The royals spent their second and third nights with the Herbert family at Muckross House. The cost of all the interior furnishings at Muckross, specifically commissioned to impress the queen, put quite a dent in the Herbert family fortunes. However, while the royal visit is often stated to be the cause of their financial downfall, it seems their woes were more directly attributable to Major Henry Arthur Herbert, reputedly a man of little financial acumen, who succeeded his father, Colonel Henry Arthur Herbert, in 1866. The family also took a hit during the Land War, even if the Muckross Estate was not as turbulent as the Kenmare Estate. A divorce case and legal wrangles between the Major and his former wife did not help matters. There is very little in the way of primary sources relating to the Queen’s visit or indeed to other aspects of the 19th century Muckross Estate.

While the royals went boating and visiting the local castles and abbeys, the queen’s ladies-in-waiting rested at a viewing point overlooking the Lakes, known ever since as Ladies’ View. The royal visit is often credited with launching Killarney as a major tourist destination but its tourism industry was already a century old at the time, carefully fostered by the Kenmares from the mid-18th century onwards. The opening of the railway in 1853 was also a major factor in popularising Killarney and both the Kenmare and Herbert families undoubtedly saw the royal visit as an opportunity to further that tourism industry. [With thanks to Patricia O’Hare, Archivist, Muckross House, Killarney and Author of 'Kerry People & Places 1860-1960', a publication by The Trustees of Muckross House. See also muckrosshouseresearchlibrary.ie]

December 18: Tom's neighbour, (Sir) Charles Burton, 5th Bart, (1823-1902) weds an American heiress, Georgina May Haliburton, only daughter of David Halliburton of Texas. They have no children.

After 14 years in Parliament, Captain Bunbury is forced to retire due to ill health. In return for his services he is offered and accepts the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. His seat is presently filled by Dennis Pack-Beresford.

Parliamentary Commission set up by former Etonian Gladstone with Lord Clarendon at the head, designed to investigate conditions at public schools, such as the syllabus, sports, fagging and flogging. This culminates in the Public Schools Act of 1868. Before 1868, Eton made a big deal of public floggings and canings, reasoning that there was no better way to maintain order. 'I am all the better for it', wrote one Etonian, 'and am therefore one who has been well swished'.


Captain and Mrs Bunbury celebrate 20 years of marriage.


Lord Randolph Churchill moves into Tom's class at Eton.

Denis William Pack-Beresford married Annette Clayton-Browne in Carlow.

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Tom Bunbury dressed in whites.


28 January:
Marriage at St. Peter’s Church, Dublin, of Mary Halahan of GULISTAN RANELAGH, daughter of SAMUEL HANDY HALAHAN, MD, to Richard Henry Dowse of Rathvilly, son of BENJAMIN THOMAS DOWSE. It is thought he is closely connected to a Dr. Samuel Handy Halahan who died of heart failure on 18 January 1929 at 'Lis-na-vaugh', Creighton, Ixopo District, Natal, South Africa, aged 69. There is considerable mystery about the true identity of this latter S. H. Handy; please contact me for further clues but the fact his house was called ‘Lis-na-vaugh’ is what brings me into it. Dr. Halahan told people he had named the house after his own home in County Carlow! With thanks to Enid Brown.

November 10: In New Zealand, the McClintock Bunbury’s cousin Minnie Tipping married William Bayly Jones, a ship’s purser from Gloucestershire. Her sister Laura was married on the same day to Arthur James Poole.

December 2: Death of Tom's grandfather, Sir James Matthew Stronge, aged 80. His uncle succeeds as Sir James Matthew Stronge, and is elected MP for Armagh (1864-74). Sir James is a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Royal Tyrone Fusiliers.

Cricket Pavillion built for Carlow Cricket Club (at Knockbeg?). I believe the cricket club was orginally beside St Dympna's Asylum and that the mental patients actually built the cricket ground and atheltics track as occupational therapy although I am not sure when this took place. The club was founded circa 1830s by Horace Rochfort.


Feb 1: In General Election that puts the Tory partnership of Derby and Disraeli in power, Dennis Pack-Beresford and Henry Bruen are returned unopposed for the Tories in Carlow.

Tom Conolly, uncle to the future Kate Rathdonnell, tries to run the Charleston blockade in the US Civil War, had his boat shot to smithers, clambered onto some driftwood, hailed a passing yacht bound for England and jumped ship off the Donegal coast making it back to Donegal Town in the nick of time to secure his seat in that week's General Election.

July 6: Dundalk CC v County Louth Club, at Drumcar, 11am.

July 10: North of Ireland CC v 16 of Co. Louth Club, Drumcar ground, 11am.

July 14: Lisrenny CC v Co. Louth Club, at Drumcar, 11am. (Freemans Journal,Wednesday, July 05, 1865, p. 3).

September: Jack Bunbury joins Tom at Eton.


March 13-14: At Eton Sports Day, Tom McClintock Bunbury comes third in Throwing the Hammer (66ft) and third in the Long Jump (16ft, 11in). Four years later, Jack wins the hammer-throwing with a massive throw of 83ft. 7.5in. (The Athlete for 1866, edited by W Pilkington, p. 115)

April 23: Death of 49-year-old Robert Westley Hall-Dare whose sons and daughters become friendly with McClintock Bunburys.

June 2: Less than 20 years after the first brick was laid at Lisnavagh, Captain William Bunbury McClintock Bunbury passes away at Lisnavagh in his 66th year. With his death, 16-year-old Tom Bunbury effectively succeeds to Lisnavagh. The Captain is buried in the family vault at St. Mary's in Rathvilly where he would all to soon to be joined by his wife and daughters. In his will, he instructs his brothers, George Augustus Jocelyn McClintock, Robert Le Poer McClintock, Henry Stanley McClintock and John McClintock (later 1st Baron Rathdonnell) that all life tenants and tenants in tail "shall take and from thenceforth use the surname of Bunbury only and no other name in addition to his or her or their Christian names and shall bear the arms of Bunbury quartered with his, her or their own family arms". He bequeathed to his widow and sole executor of his will, £3000 and "the use of my mansion house and demesne at Lisnevagh together with the use of all my pictures, plates, china, linen, glass, furniture, horses, carriages, harness, saddles, bridles, farming stock and implements of husbandry" until each of his children was 21 after which they would also be entitled to such usage. He also provided £14,000 for his two younger children, Jack and Isabella, and a further £300 pa up until their 21st birthday "for or towards their advancement in the world". John Calvert Stronge and Thomas Vessey Nugent were his trustees.

Rather tragically it seems that the Captain never got to see how good an oarsman his son and heir had become. Tom was second in both Eton's sculling and pulling (pairs) competition in 1866, He won the pulling in 1867 and also won the Ladies plate at Henley that same year. As Nicholas Tinne put it, 'the fact that he was in Warre's house probably helped, as he was the best coach at that time, and coached JC Tinne in the Oxford four which beat Harvard over the boatrace course on the Tideway in 1869.'

Tom also played on Dr Warre's soccer team in their cup match against Evan's on the last day of the school year. One contemporary stated that 'Warre's owed their success in a great measure to the play of Bunbury, who never missed a kick'. Also on that team was Walter Calvert ('who, though Flying-man, kept very much on the defensive, and was always in the way') and Bill Farrer ('who played with equal certainty as long-long and short-behind'. (ANNALS OF AN ETON HOUSE, WITH SOME NOTES ON THE EVANS FAMILY, BY MAJOR GAMBIER-PARRY (John Murray, 1907), p. 137). It's definitely worth tracking the book 'Edmond Warre, D.D., C.B., C.V.0' by Charles Robert Leslie Fletcher.

At Henley, of the twenty-eight medals awarded for fours and eights, twenty-seven went to nineteen Etonians, seventeen of whom had been or were then students of Warre.

June 15: County Louth CC - Married v Single - at Drumcar ground, 10:30am. (Freemans Journal, Wednesday, June 13, 1866, p. 3).

June 23: (Sat) Co. Louth v 9th Lancers at Drumcar.

July 13 & 14: Co Louth CC v NICC at Drumcar.

July 28th & August 1: Na Shuler v 16 of Co. Louth at Drumcar, 10:30am.

September 26: (Wed) Nenagh Guardian (p. 4) quotes a story from the Daily Telegraph that John McClintock was likely to become a new peer and would 'probably assume the title of Baron Drumcar'.

November 18: Tom's uncle, John McClintock (later Baron Rathdonnell) is appointed Lieutenant of the town of Drogheda (18th Nov) and a Colonel in the Louth Militia (until his death).