Turtle's History Library

An extensive archive of Turtle’s writings on history, travel, interiors and other matters.

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Photographed in August 2018 by Ken Williams of Shadows and Stone, this drone photograph shows the outline of several barrows and ring-ditches, as well as a
large circular enclosure, in the Long Field behind the Haroldstown Dolmen in County Carlow. The road on the right is the R727 from Hackestown to Tobinstown, the bendy
bit is Acaun Bridge and the grey lump in the field by the bridge is the dolmen. This incredible photo, made possible by the long drought, is the first indication of any such complex in this area.
(With thanks to Ken Williams)
Haroldstown, County Carlow – Of Dolmens, Evictions and Eccentric Historians

Located on the River Dereen, this 350 acre townland includes the beautiful Haroldstown Dolmen, while neighbouring Ballykilduff appears to have been home to a Bronze Age settlement that was first charted by a drone in 2018. Closely linked to the nearby monastery at Acaun, its past owners include two former Lord Chancellors of Ireland and an eccentric newspaper man. It was also the scene of an appalling eviction of 173 tenants in the 1830s, including numerous widows.  

The Very Rev. Fr. Cullen preparing Rathvilly for its Tidy Town victory, with Martin Cody, Miley Brennan and Joe Toole.
Clergy who have Served in Rathvilly and Kiltegan by Monsignor John McEvoy

AP: Assistant Priest. CC: Curate. PP: Parish Priest Parish Priests Years Native of Born Ordained …

The Altar of St. John by Rogier van der Weyden (c.1400–1464), from a c. 1455 oil-on-oak wood panel altarpiece now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. This panel shows the beheading of John, with Salome receiving the disembodied head on a plate.
Protected: The Forgotten Cult of St John the Baptist in Medieval Ireland by Michael Brabazon & Turtle Bunbury

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Coptic Ireland – A Chronology
Coptic Ireland – A Chronology

A chronology of events, mostly related to Egypt, some of which may have had a long term influence or impact on the evolution of Christianity in Ireland and, therefore, Europe.

John 'Old Turnip' McClintock, father of the 1st Lord Rathdonnell, Captain William
McClintock Bunbury and Kate Gardiner, as well as eight children by his second wife,
Lady Elizabeth McClintock, daughter of the Earl of Clancarty.
John ‘Old Turnip' McClintock (1769-1855) of Drumcar, County Louth

A prominent player in Irish politics during the last years of the Parliament in Dublin, aided by his kinship with John Foster, the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and his opposition to the Act of Union, the Brexit of its day. Following the tragic death of his first wife Jane (née Bunbury) in 1801, he married a sister of the 2nd Earl of Clancarty, one of the power houses of European politics after Napoleon’s defeat.

A History of Ballyfin House, Co. Laois, Ireland
A History of Ballyfin House, Co. Laois, Ireland

Consistently ranked among the world’s top resorts, Ballyfin’s history reaches back to an age when the O’More chieftains dominated the surrounding lands. Its story encompasses multiple families – Crosbie, Pole, Coote and Wellesley – with Iron Dukes, bounders and heiresses in the mix, as well as its tenure as a Patrician school and its remarkable restoration in the present century. In 2024, it was voted the No. 1 Resort in Ireland & UK by Travel + Leisure Readers.

Notes on Kildare Town

What’s in a Name?   The Curragh plains were formed at the end of the …

The McGrath Brothers Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Bagenalstown (Muine Bheag), County Carlow

New Versailles   Walter Bagenal (1670–1745), the founder of Bagenalstown, already had an estate of …

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Killiney, County Dublin

See also: Notes on Dalkey, County Dublin.   Postcard Pioneer   Evelyn Wrench (1882-1966), a …

Illustration by Derry Dillon
Winifred Letts (1882-1972) – A Poet of the Great War & the Cuala Press

Winifred Letts published a series of remarkable war poems during the First World War, in which she worked as a physiotherapist and nurse. The Dublin-based author also wrote poems for the Cuala Press, published children's books and penned a play staged by the Abbey Theatre.

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Corrupt Banking in Victorian Ireland

The scandals that rocked Irish banking in the 19th century were little different to those of more recent times. In each case the men responsible – some rascals from birth, others corrupted along the way – attempted to absolve themselves on the basis that they had not expected things to turn out so bad, that the gambles they took had simply back-fired, that everyone else was doing it so why couldn’t they …

Denis Horgan (1869-1922). Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Banteer, County Cork

See also Notes on Kanturk O'Callaghan of Banteer House, Clonmeen O'Callaghan of Bannagh, Kanturk O’Callaghan …

George Colley served at the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816. Painted by George Chambers.
The Bunbury Isaac Family

In 1758, Thomas Bunbury of Kill, County Carlow, married Susanna Priscilla Isaac, daughter of the County Down barrister John Isaac. Their descendants would hold properties such as Holywood (Hollywood), near Hillsborough, County Down, Seafield House, near Donabate, County Dublin, and Lisbryan (Lisbrien), County Tipperary. Among them were Thomas Bunbury, Bishop of Limerick, and other lines that sprang up in Jersey and Mozambique.

A Lawlor-Keely family gathering at the opening day at Naas Racecourse on 19 June 1924.

Standing (l to r): Jim Lawlor (Bridget’s son), Dorothy Whiteside (Bunty Power), Marjorie Whiteside (Byrne) and Tom Lawlor (Bridget’s son).

Front Row (l to r): Ellen (Nelly), Bridget (Mrs Lawlor), Ellinor (Nell) Whiteside and Catherine Whiteside.

Nelly, Bridget and Catherine were the Keely sisters.
Mrs Lawlor (1880-1969) of Naas – Caterer Extraordinaire

Founded on the eve of the First World War, Mrs Lawlors Naas-based enterprise was reckoned to be the largest catering firm in Ireland by 1937. From the Dublin Horse Show to the Naas Races to the Grand Prix or the Eucharistic Congress, her tents were invariably to be found serving up to the crowds.

The founding fathers tip their bowlers and trilbies during the presentation of prizes for the Trainers Cup at the first meeting at Naas Racecourse on 19 June 1924. General Waldron (the handicapper) and Thomas Whelan are on the left, with Edward ‘Cub’ Kennedy, raising his hat high on the right. Ned Gaul is centre background, with hat and tie. Charlie Farrell is also said to be in the photo. There may also be a Dowse from outside Naas. Edward Brophy is not in the picture.
Naas – Chapter 2 ­– The Roaring Twenties

The formative years of the Naas Race Company, and the story of its original cast and dramatis personnae.

The Gaffer and his family, Ballyknockan, c. 1903-4
Back: Patrick, Lil, John, Nan, Bob.
Middle: William, Bride, William (The Gaffer), Mary (née Brady), Marcella, Mary
Sitting: Joe, Jim, Kitty
Osborne of Ballkyknockan, Craddockstown and Tipper

The family who prospered on the Ballyknockan granite quarries in County Wicklow, several branches of which relocated to County Kildare where they became one of the best-known equestrian dynasties in Ireland during the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh (1930-2024). Photo: James Fennell.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh (1930-2024), The Voice of the GAA

No man has a more encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport than Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh. He appears to know who won every championship, and the accompanying scores, since the GAA was founded 126 years ago. ‘Well, I keep an eye on things, he says bashfully.

For more stories of World War One and 'The Glorious Madness' click here.
The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War (Contents)

‘The Glorious Madness’ explores the lives of some of these people – including nationalists, nuns, artists, sportsmen, poets, aristocrats, nurses, clergymen and film directors – whose lives coincided with one of the most brutal conflicts our world has ever known.

Cork in 1918
Cork in 1918

For over 300 years, Cork Harbour had been a cornerstone of British defence in the Northern Atlantic, one of the most fortified harbours in the world, protected by a ring of stone forts and bombproof Martello towers…

Above: The New York Times report on the sinking of the Lusitania.
The Sinking of RMS Lusitania, 1915

In 1915 the horror of the First World War war ripped into County Cork when a torpedo sank the Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale; nearly 1200 people died in the attack.

Rita Hayworth. Illustration by Derry Dillon.
Notes on Clonsilla, County Dublin

The stories of Rita Hayworth and Prince Aly, the Shackleton Gardens, Luttrellstown Castle, the wrestler Stephen Farrelly, a strange poisoning and a remarkable barrister.  Irish translations follow below.

This was one of the draft covers for the Kilkea book. 

Pre-1170 	O’Toole (ua Tuathail) sept.
1170s-1290s	De Ridelesford
1290s-1304	De Iverthorn 
1305-1425	Wogan
1420s-1534	FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare
1534-1547	Butler / Eustace
1547-1556	Peppard
1556-1634	FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare
1634-1646	The Jesuit Order
1647-1668	FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare
1668-1675	Brabazon, Earl of Meath
1675-1679	Jennings
1679-1706	Browne
1706-1797	Dickson / Dixon
1797-1798	Reynolds
1798-1840	Caulfield
1840-1849	Lalor / Lawlor
1849-1949	FitzGerald, Marquess of Kildare
1949-1960	FitzGerald, Duke of Leinster
1961-1966	Draddy
1966-1973	Cade
1971-1975	Chapman
1975-1987	Shanley
1988-2010	Conway
2010-present	Cashman
Kilkea Castle – Acknowledgments

The Kilkea Castle book was a deep dive into the history of the FitzGerald family, as well as many other remarkable people and families associated with it. In the historical process, consultation is key. I was blessed by a magnificent cast of kind and supportive hands to help me shape, enhance, verify and enrich these tales.

Extract from Taylor & Skinner's map of 1783.
Kilkea Castle, Chapter 6: Hellfire (1668-1837) – The Dixon, Reynolds and Caulfield Years

During the late 17th century, Kilkea Castle in County Kildare was occupied by a series of well-to-do families while the FitzGeralds prepared to move to Carton. In the century thereafter, the dissolute Henry Dixon and the duplicitous Tom Reynolds did not bode well, and Kilkea would be the scene of high drama during the 1798 Rebellion, with Lord Edward FitzGerald centre-stage. Ultimately, it would find calm under the Caulfields before the FitzGeralds resumed control of Kilkea once more.

Joe Biden and Teddy Kennedy
The Irish & the White House – Why Irish Eyes are Smiling

The White House was built by a fellow from Kilkenny and burned down by a man from Down. At least 22 of its presidential occupants had Irish roots, as did numerous other founding fathers and leading political figures in US history. This epic looks at the many, many connections between Ireland and the US presidents, including the White House staff over the years.

Magherymore House.
Leslie-Ellis of Magherymore, Co. Wicklow, and County Monaghan

Looking at the family who lived at Magherymore (now spelled Magheramore), near Wicklow Town for a number of generations, and their connections to the US state of Georgia and Cambridge University. Their home is now a St Columban nursing home.

Benjamin Bunbury (1642-1707), the first of the family to settle at Killerrig. Courtesy of Camilla Corrie of Leighton Hall, Shropshire, England.
Benjamin Bunbury (1642-1707) of Killerig, Lisnavagh & Tobinstown, County Carlow

Looking at the life of the first of the family to truly settle in County Carlow, where he acquired Killerrig, Lisnavagh and Tobinstown, as well as his connections to the Dukes of Ormonde, Philip Wharton and some lousy days for a Quaker sheep-farmer by name of Thomas Cooper. 

County Kildare – Choose a Topic
County Kildare – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Kildare’s past.

Mrs Dunne, The Gunslinger and the Fearless Frogman

Margaret Behan Dunne (1806-1891), the postmistress of Kildare Town, had two remarkable nephews. Johnny Behan served as Sheriff of Cochise County in the Arizona Territory during the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, while Paul Boyton was a showman known as the Fearless Frogman, who navigated over 25,000 miles of rivers and waterways in a pioneering rubber suit.

Notes on Laytown, Bettystown and Julianstown, County Meath

An Oscar-Winning Bridge   Released in 1991, The Crying Game was the movie that propelled …

County Meath – Choose a Topic
County Meath – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Meath’s past.

The explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was born in Kilkea House in 1874.
Sir Ernest Shackleton – By Endurance, We Conquer

An astonishing lesson in leadership from the Irishman whose attempt to cross the Antarctic by land left him with the immense challenge of leading his 27 crewmen on a godforsaken adventure through the world's most hellish waters and an uncharted mountain range.

Highwayman. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Kishoge, Ballyowen, Clonburris, Grange and Balgaddy, County Dublin

NB: See also Notes on Clondalkin and Fonthill. St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne   St Cuthbert …

Dublin Fire Brigade. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Tara Street, Townsend Street, Poolbeg Street and George’s Quay, Dublin

What’s In A Name?   Developed as a completely new street in 1885, Tara Street …

Howth Harbour Lighthouse, undertaken by Halpin who was the Inspector of Lighthouses; his brother Richard was Warden of Howth. 
The Halpin Family: Lighthouse Builders, Port Engineers, Pioneers

A dynasty whose bloodlines interlink across multiple generations from their origins in the Huguenot stronghold of Portarlington, County Laois, to Wicklow, the Dublin Docklands, Meath and the distant lands of the USA and Australia. George Halpin, the ‘Founding Father’ of Irish lighthouses, constructed 53 lighthouses around the Irish coast, and did much to shape Dublin Bay and the Liffey. His nephew Captain Robert Halpin laid the Atlantic cable, while the article brings us to the present-day with the inventor, engineer and MacArthur fellow, Saul Griffith.

Maurice FitzGerald and the Black Castle of Wicklow. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Wicklow Town & County Wicklow

The Black Castle   In 1176, the land on which the Black Castle stands was …

Patricia Crowley. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Dunboyne & Ratoath, County Meath

The Dunboyne Scholarship   A succession crisis for the Barons Dunboyne yielded useful dividends for what …

The Blackrock Baths. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Blackrock, County Dublin

The Diver’s Baths   The nearby Blackrock Baths were once Ireland’s most fashionable place to …

The Tipperary Races. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Limerick Junction

The First Lady’s Cousins   Richard Nixon was one of the most controversial US presidents …

Frank Butler. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Longford Town & County Longford

The Potsdam Giant   Ten Irishmen are reported to have served in the Potsdam Giants, an …

Notes on Thomastown, County Kilkenny

The Artist   Mildred Anne Butler (1858–1941), one of the greatest painters of her time, …

Trainer Henry de Bromhead, his wife Heather, left, and winning jockey Rachael Blackmore after Honeysuckle won the Mares' Hurdle. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile.
Chapter 12: Naas Races 2020-2024

From ‘The Centenary of Naas Racecourse (1924-2024) – Nursery of Champions’ by Turtle Bunbury. Back …

Naas Roll of Honour

Between 2020 and 2023, National Hunt horses that ran at Naas also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase, the Aintree Grand National, the Cheltenham Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase, twice. On the Flat, they also scooped the Epsom Derby, the Epsom Oaks, the English 2,000 Guineas, the English 1,000 Guineas, the Melbourne Cup and four Breeders’ Cups.

This little piggy is part of a remarkable collection found in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
‘It’s a Sulawesi pig, warts and all, painted with vivid red ochre and is quite possibly the earliest known artwork produced by human hand. In fact, the artist even added human hands to the scene. So many millennia ago is a massive timespan to get your head around, but I take much encouragement from the notion that, even then, mankind was seeking to make sense of its surroundings through art.
Sulawesi Warty Pig: ‘My Favourite Painting.'

This little piggy is part of a remarkable collection found in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It’s a Sulawesi pig, warts and all, painted with vivid red ochre over 45,000 years ago, making it one of the earliest known artworks produced by human hand.

Turlough O’Connor, High King of the Waterways
Turlough O’Connor, High King of the Waterways

One of the most remarkable figures in early medieval Irish history, Turlough was one of just two O’Connors to reign as High King of Ireland, holding the throne for an impressive 35 years. His cores strength was a vast fleet that dominated Irish waterways. Away from war, he also built numerous bridges, redirected two Irish rivers and endeavoured to establish Tuam as a New Jerusalem.

Naas veteran Fort Leney wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Naas – Chapter 6 – The 1960s

  From ‘The Centenary of Naas Racecourse (1924-2024) – Nursery of Champions’ by Turtle Bunbury. …

I concede this is not Naas but it is too cool a shot to ignore - its a race at Cheltenham from 17 March 1948.
Naas Races – Chapter 4 – The 1940s

The post-war years were dominated by Vincent O’Brien who saddled three Grand National winners, as well as Cottage Rake (who won three consecutive Gold Cups) and Gold Cup winner Knock Hard. All five of those horses honed their craft at Naas.

Dancing on the Door, with Frank and Mini McGovern.
Carleton's Country – The Rose Shaw Collection

Rose Shaw was governess to the Gledstanes of Fardross House in County Tyrone during the early 20th century. She spent much of her time walking in the Clogher Valley, on the border of Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone, photographing local people. This page showcases 11 of her wonderful photographs.

I think this is Tom dressed in sporting whites at Eton.
The Life & Times of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, of Lisnavagh, County Carlow – Part 1 (1848-1878)

The Formative Years – Tom McClintock Bunbury (1848-1929) would become probably the most influential member of the Irish branch of the family in history. This section looks at his childhood, his Eton education, his time in the Scots Greys, the death of his parents and sisters, his marriage to Kate Bruen and his position as heir apparent to his uncle, the 1st Baron Rathdonnell.

Illustration: Derry Dillon
Notes on Drumcondra, County Dublin

Click here for further tales of Dublin City and County Dublin   Don Patricio   …

Notes on Bray, County Wicklow

The King of Bray   Edward Breslin (1818-1897), the son of a small farmer from …

Notes on Sandymount, County Dublin

Rebel Actor   Handsome, sharp-dressed Seán Connolly (1882-1916) was the first ‘rebel’ to die in …

Maureen Sullivan of Boyle first starred as Jane in the 1932 Tarzan movie. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Notes on Boyle, County Roscommon

The stories of the Hollywood beauty who starred in the Tarzan movies, the scullery maid who became a baroness, a Great War air ace, the woman who composed India’s national anthem, a regiment known as the Devil’s Own and the inspiration for Chris O’Dowd’s ‘Moone Boy.’ Extracted from Past Tracks, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

 Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Kilcock, County Kildare

John Huston at Courtown House. Illustration: Derry Dillon. Hollywood Royals   Courtown House, just south-west …

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Hansfield & Phibblestown, County Dublin

What’s In A Name?   The townland of Phibblestown was renamed ‘Hansfield’ by Hans Blackwood, …

Kilkea Castle - Further Reading
Kilkea Castle – Further Reading

In terms of source material, as well as the persons acknowledged here, I salute the …

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, as portrayed by Keira Knightley, with Bess Foster played by Hayley Atwell in The Duchess.'
Foster of County Louth – Ambassadors, Speakers, Lovers Extraordinaire

A family who rose through the hierarchy through their astute understanding of finance, property and agriculture, culminating with John Foster’s election as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and his elevation to the peerage as Baron Oriel. With 6,500 acres at Collon, Dunleer and Glyde Court, County Louth, the head of the family also became Viscount Ferrard and Viscount Massereene, inheriting Antrim Castle. Includes the philanthropist Vere Foster and Lady Bess Foster, part of the Duke of Devonshire’s ménage à trois with Georgiana.

Tom Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell  with his wife, Kate (née Bruen), courtesy of Hugh Dalgety.
The Life & Times of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, County Carlow – Part 3 (1914-1929)

Following the final quarter of a century of Tom Rathdonnell's life from the outbreak of the First Word War through the Irish revolutionary period to the Wall Street Crash.

A family gathering at Harpsden Court, Henley-on-Thames, including Admiral Versturme, Laura Palairet, Harry, Eleanor Hodges (Palairet), Anne and Adolphus Versturme-Bunbury, Eleanor, Charlie, Edith.
The Versturme-Bunbury Family

The Versturme-Bunbury family descend from the 1829 marriage between Anne Elizabeth Bunbury, a descendent of the Bunburys of Cranavonane, and Captain Louis Versturme of Berkshire. They include the North North and Bunbury North family, and a number of people who became influential in Kenya during the mid-20th century.

Thomas Saint George Armstrong. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Clara, County Offaly

Quaker Quarter   Arguably the most influential family in Clara’s history were the Goodbodys of …

Willougby  Hamilton. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
The Golden Age of Irish Tennis

During the Golden Age of the 1890s and early 20th century, Ireland’s tennis stars racked up nine Wimbledon titles (4 x men’s, 1 x ladies, 2 x men’s doubles and 2 x mixed double’s) as well as two Olympic Golds, the Australian Open, the US Open and, effectively, the Davis Cup. This is the story of some of those remarkable players.

Sir William Gleadowe-Newcomen. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Killester, County Dublin

St Brigid in Killester   Kilbride Road refers to the ‘church of Bride’ as in …

Saint Brigid of Kildare
Saint Brigid of Kildare

In Ireland, St Brigit is considered as venerable as the Blessed Virgin, mother of Christ, and second only to St Patrick in the hierarchy of patron saints. She's even been known to turn up in a Lindsay Lohan rom-com. Her story is a complex cocktail, embracing the deities of pre-Christian Ireland and the political machinations of the medieval church, as well as a series of revamps in recent times.  

Royal Danelli in action, 1939
Naas Races – Chapter 3 – The 1930s

Bringing the story onwards as Naas Racecourse evolves in the face of the Great Depression, the Betting Tax and the outbreak of the Second World War.

Kilkea Castle - Contents
Kilkea Castle – Contents

Foreword   Introduction 1 – The Time Before the Normans Charting the emergence of the …

The Altartate Cauldron in the Prehistoric Ireland exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. The find suggests the continuation of certain Later Bronze Age traditions into the Early Iron Age although its form differs from that of Later Bronze Age cauldrons. A band of ornament below the rim, which may be compared closely with that found on certain Early Iron Age spears, suggests that the wooden cauldron may have been carved during the 2nd century BC. See also image on this page of WIlliam Mealiff.

(With thanks to Matthew Gallagher).
A History of Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan

Built as a rectory for the Church of Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars, Bishopscourt was considered such a fine abode that two Bishops of Clogher opted to use it as their main place of residence during the first decades of the 20th century. This tale takes in the Lennard family, scions of a natural daughter of Charles II, as well as Cassandra Hand, champion of Clones Lace; the dairying enterprise of the Mealiff family; the fabulously named Baldwin Murphy; and the enigmatic Archie Moore, Consultant Surgeon at Monaghan General Hospital.

Field Marshal Montgomery pins a Military Cross on Bill Rathdonnell at Schleswig
on 12 August 1945. As chance would have it, Montgomery descended from the McClintock
family, as did Field Marshal Alexander. Colour by BSC
William Robert Bunbury, 4th Baron Rathdonnell, M.C. (1914-1959)

My grandfather packed a lot into his 44 years. Born during the Great War, he lost his mother at the age of eight and, an only child, became very close to his father, the 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. Educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge in England, he lived it up in the US in the late 1930s but life turned serious again at the age of 21 when his father died and he succeeded as 4th Baron. He married Pamela Drew, a free-spirited artist, a few weeks later. And then came Hitler’s War, in which he found himself in command of a squadron of tanks …

 Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Portmarnock, County Dublin

The Pirate Station   Sunshine Radio, the most successful super-pirate radio station in Irish history, …

One of the best-known photographs from Niall’s book is a close-up shot of him driving a van called the Band Wagon with a glassy-eyed David Bowie sparking up a cigarette on the seat behind him. Niall was Bowie’s driver from 29th July - 19th August 1991 . They were headed to to Desmond Guinness’s house in Leixlip, he told me. Anyway, a few weeks after Niall’s book was launched I took an old friend out for lunch. That sounds a little too like Hannibal Lecter. Let me rephrase. In early September 2017, I drove to Gorey and picked up a senior gentleman by name of DG from the Oakwood Nursing Home where he has been resident for the past decade. I knew him quite well when I was in my early 20s. Over lunch at Marlfield and he told me, among other tales, about the time he spent hanging with the Rolling Stones and Bowie, in the USA and in Ireland. Fun tales; he rates Keith Richards as the pick of them all. Anyway, when I returned DG to his room at the very end of a long corridor (which he calls ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams’) I chanced to see a large photograph framed above his bed that stopped me in my tracks. Niall Power driving a van with Bowie in the back, except this time the photo was bigger than Niall's version and had a few other men in it. ‘Why on earth do you have that?’ I asked. ‘Look who’s in it?’ he said. I looked again and I saw Niall and Bowie and a man in a checkered jacket who was also lighting a cigarette. It was DG! He had no idea who Niall was, other than the driver, but when I sent him Niall’s story, he quickly responded: ‘I little realized what a physical phenomenon I was sitting next to that day.’ Also in the van beside Bowie was Ronnie Wood, to whose house Niall drove the Band Wagon the following day, and beside DG was Oliver Musker.
Niall Power: Timing is Everything

I met Niall in a swimming pool. He told me he’d grown up on the Curragh and listening to marching bands inspired him to become a drummer. I slowly worked out that he was a professional drummer who had performed alongside Bob Geldof for years, as well as Johnny Logan and Westlife. My admiration for Niall mushroomed when I realised that he showed up at that pool every morning because he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and he was utterly determined to outfox the brute.

Seven Coptic Monks
Protected: Ireland’s Schools (500-700 A.D.)

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Grace Kelly (1929-1982) - Olympic Gold & Mayo Princesses
Grace Kelly (1929-1982) – Olympic Gold & Mayo Princesses

In 1956 the Academy Award-winning actress from Philadelphia achieved what many deemed a fairytale dream when she married Monaco’s Prince Rainier. There hadn’t been an Irish woman on a throne since Grace O’Malley who was not just Grace’s namesake but also came from Mayo. This is a short account of those Mayo roots back to Strong John Kelly and how the currach rowers of Clew Bay connect to two multi-Olympic medal winning cousins.

Index to Vanishing Ireland Interviews
Index to Vanishing Ireland Interviews

A county-by-county index to all the people interviewed for the Vanishing Ireland series.

For other interviews from the Sporting Legends of Ireland book, click here.
Sporting Legends of Ireland (Contents)

Portrait interviews with 44 of Ireland's leading sportsmen and women, probing the question as to whether they were simply born to greatness or was it all about how much they trained and a certain degree of luck.

County Kerry – Choose a Topic
County Kerry – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Kerry’s past.

Tim McClintock Bunbury (1881-1937), 3rd Baron Rathdonnell
Tim McClintock Bunbury (1881-1937), 3rd Baron Rathdonnell

Tim became heir apparent to Lisnavagh and the lordship of Rathdonnell, after his brother Billy was killed in the Anglo-Boer War. As a young man, he was Private Secretary to the Governors of Ceylon and Fiji, and the High Commissioner of Australia. A key figure at the Imperial Institute, he served in the war in East Africa, Italy and Carinthia, now Slovenia. His only child was my grandfather.

Little Moyle, County Carlow.
Colonel Kane Bunbury (1777-1874) & the Kane-Smith Family of Moyle and Rathmore, County Carlow

Dismissed from the British Army after a court martial in 1823, Kane moved to Moyle, Kellistown, County Carlow, where he became one of Ireland’s principal cattle breeders. From 1865 until his death aged 97 in 1874, he lived at Rathmore Park, also in Carlow. Although he died unmarried, it seems that Colonel Bunbury did not die without issue: hence, the Kane Smith. Also into this colourful mix can be added Willie Wilde, brother of Oscar, and Vera, Countess of Rosslyn, as well as the late architect, Jeremy Williams.

The Dalkey Atmospheric. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Dalkey, County Dublin

Accounts of the Dalkey hawks and the Atmospheric Railway, of Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, and Harry Styles, of the Kingdom of Dalkey, a gold rush and a woman who tried to kill Mussolini, of Flann O’Brien, Maeve Binchy and the evolution of Sorrento Terrace, Vico Road and Monte Alverno, amongst other tales.

Close up of Lady Rathdonnell (née Anne Lefroy), attributed to
Mayer and dated to August 1829, the year of her marriage to John McClintock.
Lefroy of Carrigglas (Longford), Ewshot (Hampshire) and Canterbury (Kent)

Hailing from Cambrai in French Picardy, the Lefroy family arrived in England as refugees during the French Wars of Religion. Having prospered as silk merchants in Canterbury, two branches emerged. The Irish branch included Tom Lefroy, famed as the love interest of Jane Austen, before he became Chief Justice of Ireland. The English branch were based at Ashe in Hampshire where they were again closely affiliated with Jane Austen's family. Among the family were the first Lady Rathdonnell and the surveyor Sir John Lefroy.      

Reflections on Irish Identity, 2024
Reflections on Irish Identity, 2024

Considering the impact of Ireland abroad from Cillian Murphy to St Patrick's Day to Mick Lynch and the Trade Unions, as well as the historical precedent behind the Biden presidency's support of the Good Friday agreement and the Irish diaspora around the world.

Timmy O’Keefe (b. 1931, Farmer) & Patsy Kingston (b. 1935, Farmer, Soldier and Bus Driver), Caherlaska, Co. Cork. Photo: James Fennell.
The Caherlaska Three: Ellen O’Keeffe (1920-2017), housewife; Timmy O’Keeffe (1931-2017), farmer; and Patsy Kingston (1935-2018), farmer, soldier + bus driver.

Timmy and Patsy have been best friends since childhood, despite the complications of one being Protestant and the other Catholic. ‘He went that way to school and I went that way,’ explains Patsy, and the two men roar with laughter for a moment or two. Patsy then said the single most unlikely thing anyone said to me during the entire Vanishing Ireland project: ‘I knew Colonel Gadaffi’ …

Naas Racecourse is located within the townland of Kings Furze, as it was named on a map of Kildare produced in 1783 by Major Alexander Taylor (1746-1828). Taylor, who also noted a ‘Burying Ground’ on the site, came from Aberdeen, Scotland, and was serving as surveyor with the Royal Irish Engineers at this time. He married Elizabeth Bonner of Naas and was later buried in the cemetery at Maudlins in Naas.
Prologue – The Early History of Racing in Naas

From ‘The Centenary of Naas Racecourse (1924-2024) – Nursery of Champions’ by Turtle Bunbury.   …

A poster made to promote The Irish Pub book.
The Irish Pub – On The Road

Over the course of 2007 and early 2008, James Fennell and I visited every county in Ireland bar Leitrim, popping our heads into an estimated 700 pubs. We undoubtedly missed a heap of brilliant pubs but we returned home with 70 pubs photographed. We subsequently showcased 39 of those in the book, The Irish Pub, published by Thames & Hudson.

Helen Mackworth, who shot herself when she found the bodies of her fiancee and his mother.
McClintock of Dunmore House, Co. Donegal

The story of a branch of the family that came of age after the relief of Derry in the Williamite Wars of the 1690s, only for inconceivable tragedy to come in the form of a triple homicide on the eve of the Second World War. With a brief account of the McFarland family who bought the house outside Carrigans, County Donegal, in 1954.

The 2nd Baron Rathdonnell and his wife were buried beneath a Celtic cross in St Mary's Church, Rathvilly, the church built by his ancestors and extended on his father's watch. He opted not to join his parents, sisters and great-uncle Kane Bunbury in the crypt beneath the church. It was unusual to have a Celtic cross in a Church of Ireland graveyard. This one may have been carved by a man called Taylor, who often did crosses for Glasnevin. This photograph was taken while David Halligan, commissioned by my father, was cleaning up the grave in November 2021.
William Bunbury II (1704-1755) of Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow

A grandson of the original Benjamin Bunbury of Killerrig, William (known as Billy) inherited Lisnavagh at the age of six, following the premature death of both his parents. He would preside over Lisnavagh for the next forty years, during which time he helped fund the construction of the Protestant church in Rathvilly. This chapter also looks at his sister Elizabeth Bunbury and her connection to the Lockwood, Minchin and Carden families.

County Dublin & Dublin City – Choose a Topic
County Dublin & Dublin City – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to the city and county of Dublin.

Lainey Keogh - The Empress of Knitwear
Lainey Keogh – The Empress of Knitwear

Lainey Keogh was born on 20th September 1957 in Old Town, north Dublin, midway between …

Joseph Marmion (1858-1923), known as Dom Columba. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Enfield, Rathcore and Johnstown Bridge, County Meath

See also Notes on Kilcock, here. United Irishwoman   The novelist and playwright Katherine Frances …

Jack Cade's Rebellion, depicted in a mural of the history of the Old Kent Road.
The Gough Family – Irish War Heroes

A family with several Victoria Crosses and a Field Marshal to their name, the Goughs started out as clergymen in County Limerick before becoming imperial warriors with the British Empire.

Detail from Slaves cutting the sugar cane - Ten Views in the Island of Antigua (1823)
Hugh Mill Bunbury & the Guyana Connection

Plantation owner Hugh Mill Bunbury of Guyana (Demerara) was born in Devon and moved to the West Indies as a young man. His daughter Lydia was disinherited for marrying the French Romantic poet Count Alfred de Vigny. His son Charles commanded the Rifle Brigade and married Lady Harriot Dundas. One grandson was Privy Chamberlains to the Pope, as well as heir to Cranavonane, County Carlow. Another was the much-decorated businessman, Evelyn James Bunbury.

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Holywood, County Down

Child Prodigy   Rory McIlroy, who has enjoyed over 120 weeks as the world’s top …

County Down – Choose a Topic
County Down – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Down’s past.

 Illustration: Derry Dillon.
A Wily Fox

  As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday July 5th 2008. AN EPIPHANY is …

Depiction of Irish Free State army officers dressed as 11th century Gaelic warriors during the opening ceremony of the 1924 Tailteann games by P.J. Lynch.
“Ireland Goes For Broke: The Gamble of the Tailteann Games” – A Guest Post by Brian Hopkins

An overview of an extraordinary sporting event that took place three times in the 1920s and early 1930s by Brian Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Lancaster University.

County Tyrone – Choose a Topic
County Tyrone – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Tyrone’s past.

Waterways Through Time - Contents
Waterways Through Time – Contents

Season 1 Season 2 From Glacial Origins and Tuatha de Danaan Names to the Early …

The Strabane Navigation
The Strabane Navigation

Strabane owes much of its early prosperity to the construction of a 4-mile canal from the tidal waters of the Foyle, completed in 1796.

The junction between the Poddle tunnel and the Liffey is visible at low tide.
The Secrets of Dublin's Underground

The underground of any city is replete with the possibilities of another world. Think of the darkly magical catacombs of Edinburgh or Rome, or the abandoned Tube lines under London. Many of the legends of a subterranean Dublin riddled with interconnecting tunnels are codology. The Irish capital is too wet for a decent underground, resting upon reclaimed marshland, but there are nonetheless some tunnels worth knowing about …

William Tighe by Thomas Pooley 1679
Tighe of Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny, and Rossanagh, Co. Wicklow

An epic saga that follows the descendants of an opportunist farmer who became the principal baker to Oliver Cromwell’s troops in Ireland through to a murder in 1917. We meet one of Dean Swift’s greatest foes, families such as Bligh, Fownes and Bunbury, and a host of literary greats including Percy and Mary Shelley, Thomas Moore, John Wesley and Patrick Bronte.

H.W. Bunbury. A soldier leaving tavern is confronted by an officer.
Bunbury Baronets in England (1618-1886)

A quick overview of the Bunbury baronets in England, including the Jacobite supporter Sir Harry Bunbury and the family of Sir Charles Bunbury, Admiral of the Turf, and Henry William Bunbury, the artist.

Jacobus Schlachter, Imperial Hunt in the Park of Schwetzingen, 1730
Germanic Hunting Scenes

Humans have inflicted unbelievable cruelty on animals over the course of time. One thinks of the Colosseum where a million animals are said to have perished in the name of human entertainment. The spectacle came of age again in the medieval period with Hapsburg aristocrats leading the way.

Brendan Behan and his mother Kathleen. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Harmonstown, Artane & Coolock

The Drummer’s Kitchen   60 Rosemount Avenue, Haromonstown, was the childhood home of U2’s co-founder …

The Head Reliquary of St. Oswald at Hildesheim Cathedral in Lower Saxony, Germany.
Protected: St Oswald and St John the Baptist – Two Heads are Bigger Than One

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Trixie Friganza was born with the name Delia O'Callahan in Grenola, Kansas. She was a comedian with a unique and gentle sense of humor.
Notes on Kanturk, County Cork

Trixie Friganza (1870-1955)   The vaudeville and early movie actress Trixie Friganza (1870-1955) was born …

Dan Donnelly fights George Cooper. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Dan Donnelly (1788-1820), Prize Fighter

Back in 1815, few Irishmen were as famous as Dan Donnelly. Over the course of his short lifetime, the Dublin-born boxer was to defeat several British champions and, or so it was rumoured, to have been conferred with a knighthood. In death his fame did not desist because his famous right arm was fated to become one of the most macabre showpieces of the Georgian Age.

The banker Thomas Finlay who bought Corkagh House from the Chaigneau family.
Finlay of Corkagh House, Clondalkin

The saga of a family who flee Scotland with the downfall of Mary, Queen of Scots, and make their fortune in Ireland through private banking and a useful cousin that happens to own a handful of iron mines in Sweden. Covering events such as the 1798 Rising and Robert Emmet’s Rebellion, the story ends in tragedy with the death in war of the last three Finlay sons of Corkagh House, County Dublin.

Dublin City - Streetwise
Dublin City – Streetwise

The etymology (ie: origin) for the names of the streets, bridges, docks and other landmarks of Dublin. This is mainly focused on the docklands area as it is based on work I did for my 2008 book, ‘Dublin Docklands – An Urban Voyage’, which was commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority

The dresses worn by Kate Rathdonnell and her eldest daughter Isabella at the latter's wedding to Forrester Colvin in 1894.
The Life & Times of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, of Lisnavagh, County Carlow – Part 2 (1879-1913)

Taking the story from his succession as 2nd Baron Rathdonnell in 1879 and the complexities of the Land Wars, through the glory days of Anchor, Bluebeard and the other Lisnavagh bulls, plus the marriage of his daughters, the death of Billy in the Anglo-Boer War and up to the eve of the Great War.

Rosie Hackett. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Rosie Hackett (1893-1976) – For Whom the Dublin Bridge is Named

Perhaps the most remarkable women to serve in the Royal College of Surgeons during the Easter Rising, Rosie was a woman of such unbending resolve that Dublin City Council chose to name a city bridge in her honour in 2013.

View from Eagle Hill.
Of Rings, Raths & the Kings of Leinster: Around the Lisnavagh Estate

In the distant past, the raths around Lisnavagh were part of the power base of the Uí Ceinnselaig (Kinsellagh). This section considers the links to Rathmore, Rathvilly, the Oldfort ringfort and the Slíghe Chualann, as well as two kings of Leinster, Crimthann mac Énnai (who was baptised by St Patrick) and his father, Enna Kinsellagh .

The River Nore flowing by Woodstock.
Waterways Through Time

The text version of Turtle's collaboration with Waterways Ireland in which he explores Ireland’s natural rivers and lakes, as well as the man-made canals that criss-cross the island. This starts with the geology and archaeological legacy of Ireland's waterways and how, the Blackwaters aside, almost every Irish river is named for a goddess of the mythical Tuatha de Danaan. I then delve into the spiritual aspects of the waterways with the onset of Christianity.

A Radburn Family. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Bayside (Cois Bá) and Baldoyle, County Dublin

Click here for further tales of Dublin City and County Dublin, including Howth, Sutton, Kilbarrack, …

The Pratt Family Tragedy in Australia, 1918 by Alan Clegg
The Pratt Family Tragedy in Australia, 1918 by Alan Clegg

A guest post by Alan Clegg about the sad fate of an emigrant family from Borris-in-Ossory, County Laois, when they reached Australia.

A gathering of unnamed O’Callaghan cousins from Banteer circa 1908. (Photo courtesy of Margaret McGrath).
O’Callaghan of Banteer House, Clonmeen, County Cork

See also: O’Callaghan of Bannagh House, Kanturk O’Callaghan of Clonmeen and Duhallow Notes on Kanturk …

Sisters Catherine (left), known as Sis, and Kathleen (right).
O’Callaghan of Bannagh, Kanturk, County Cork

There have been O’Callaghan’s in Bannagh for hundreds of year. On the eve of the 1641 Rebellion, for instance, Donough O’Callaghan, ‘Irish Papist’, claimed ownership of 144 acres in Banteer. However, by 1670, those same 144 acres were registered to a Captain Walter Yelverton. 

The 17th century bawn at Clonmeen is thought to have once held a fortified house with towers at each corner.
O’Callaghan of Clonmeen, County Cork

The O’Callaghan family were traditionally headquartered in castles at Clonmeen and Dromaneen, as well as many smaller strongholds. After the 1641 Rising, they lost much of their power and lands. In the 18th century, Cornelius O’Callaghan usefully converted to the Church of Ireland and managed to reclaim some of the former O’Callaghan territory. Both the Banteer and Bannagh branches would appear to descend from Cornelius.

County Cork and Cork City – Choose a Topic
County Cork and Cork City – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Cork and Cork City’s past.

Jack McClintock Bunbury
The Hon. Jack Bunbury (1851-1893)

Thought to be the inspiration behind Oscar Wilde’s famous ‘Bunbury’, Jack Bunbury was a remarkable oarsman who won many trophies for Eton and Oxford. He also enjoyed acting, not least during his service with the Royal Scots Greys in the 1870s. His life spiralled when he was caught up in the Land Wars, after which he moved to England. The death of his only son, aged 11, in 1892 was followed by his own premature demise a year later. This account also looks at his wife Myra, of the famous Watson hunting dynasty, and her second husband, Baron Max de Tuyll.

Cistercians at work. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
The Cistercian Order in Ireland

Between 1142 and 1270, the Cistercian Order built 38 abbeys in Ireland from which, at their peak, they owned almost half a million acres in Ireland, including 48,000 acres at their mother-house, Mellifont Abbey. Famed for their agricultural prowess, the Cistercians were particularly adept at bringing sheep's wool to the markets of Flanders, by which means they became a corporate megastar – closely affiliated with the Knights Templar.

Illustration: Derry Dillon
Daniel Robertson, an American Architect in Ireland

An eccentric and prolific architect. Robertson left his mark on such well-known Irish mansions as Killruddery, Powerscourt and Lisnavagh. An American of Scots origin, he grew up between South Carolina and Georgia before training as an architect in London. Having gone bankrupt in 1830, he moved to Ireland where he lived until his death in Howth in 1849.

County Laois - Choose a Topic
County Laois – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Laois.

Weremchuk, Max, John Nelson Darby: A Biography (Southern California Seminary Press, 2021)
John Nelson Darby (1800–1882)

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), aka JND, was a hugely influential figure in the history of Protestant Christianity. In 1832, he co-founded the Plymouth Brethren, an evangelical group of travelling preachers who believed strongly in the power of the Holy Spirit.  

County Offaly - Choose a Topic
County Offaly – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Offaly.

Arriving at Rathsallagh.
Rathsallagh, County Wicklow: A Potted History of 6,000 Years

An epic and sweeping saga of Stone Age genius, Normans warriors, Georgia gentlemen and noble revolutionaries in the Wicklow Mountains, homing in on the Ryves, Pennefather and O'Flynn families.

Corkagh House
The Story of Corkagh, Clondalkin (Dublin) – Introduction & Chapter 1

The Corkagh demesne has been in existence since at least 1326 when listed as part of the Archbishop of Dublin’s manor of Clondalkin. A modest castle existed here in the medieval age followed by a farmhouse constructed in about 1650. This section looks at the turbulent 17th century when both house and lands passed through a series of families such as Mills, Trundell and Browne before being were settled upon the Nottinghams, kinsmen of the Jacobite dynasty of Sarsfield.

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Herbie Brennan (1940-2024) – Master of the Universe

Over the course of his 83 years, Herbie wrote almost 120 books, of which he sold over 10 million copies in at least 50 countries. He was my mentor and my friend. You never quite knew what would happen next when he opened his mouth to speak, what strange story he would reveal …

The White Tower at Kilkea Castle. Photo: Elaine Barker.
Kilkea Castle – (2) De Ridelesford & the First Castle (1169-1304)

Following the Cambro-Norman conquest of Leinster in the late 12th century, the lands around Kilkea and Castledermot in County Kildare were granted to Walter de Ridelesford, a man with strong links to the Knights Templar. The original stone castle – once among the most formidable in Ireland – was built by Hugh de Lacy in about 1180. Within a hundred years, the manor had been divided between Walter’s female heiresses, Christiana De Marisco and Emmeline Longespée, which would bring the House of FitzGerald into the mix.

'Storm in the Mountains' by Albert Bierstadt.
The Night of the Big Wind, 1839

The Night of the Big Wind was the most devastating storm in recorded Irish history. The hurricane of 6-7 January 1839 made more people homeless in a single night than all the sorry decades of eviction that followed – a hurricane so powerful that the Atlantic waves are said to have broken over the top of the Cliffs of Moher.

Surgeon Lawless 2. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Shankill, County Dublin

The Founder of Tillystown   Tillystown is named for Benjamin Tilly, who lived at Chantilly …

Lola Montez and the King of Bavaria
Lola Montez and the King of Bavaria

Lola Montez was one of the most famous dancers in Europe in the 1840s. Her love affair with the King of Bavaria brought him crashing down before she embarked upon a new life running a literary and social salon in California. This tale follows the rise and fall of this tempestuous Irish woman, charting her romance with Franz Liszt and her encounters with Richard Wagner, Hans von Bülow and Alexandre Dumas. 

Close up of the man I believe to be Captain William McClintock Bunbury.
Captain William McClintock Bunbury, Part 3: Lisnavagh House & Westminster MP (1835-1866)

This part takes up from William’s retirement from the navy, after 20 years at sea, and the complete revolution in his life in 1846 when, in the space of 5 weeks, he succeeded to his wealthy uncle’s fortune and became MP for Carlow, just as Peel’s government collapsed and the potato blight began to scorch the land. It looks at his sojourn in County Fermanagh, his marriage into the Stronge family of Tynan Abbey, his political term at Westminster and the construction of Lisnavagh House.

Scene from Rathvilly railway station, undated. It has been proposed that the man in the white cap is Rathdonnell.
Rathvilly Railway Station

Rathvilly and Tullow Railway Stations opened in 1886, along with Baltinglass railway line extension to both places. The arrival of the railway opened Rathvilly to new horizons, connecting it with the wider world and ushering in an era of modernity.

County Carlow – Choose a Topic
County Carlow – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, pubs, families, events and places connected to County Carlow’s past.

The Irish Roots of the Brontë Sisters
The Irish Roots of the Brontë Sisters

Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey are considered three of the greatest literary classics of all times. The three novels were published in 1847 by the brilliant Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. This is the lesser known story of their father, an Irish clergyman from County Down, and the Heathcliff-like story of his ancestors, as well as a look at Charlotte Brontë's connections to Banagher, County Offaly.

The Red Cross of the Knights Templar was given to them by the Pope on the eve of the Second Crudade.
Rise & Fall of the Knights Templar – The Irish Experience

The Knights Templar have captivated people’s imagination ever since the Order was founded in 1119. One of the most powerful forces in Europe for almost 200 years, their initial purpose was to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. In Ireland, they had manors and banking preceptories across Leinster, as well as anchorage for ships from Waterford Harbour to Galway City to the north-west coast. Their fall was astoundingly dramatic.

An tSlí Mhór (The Great Way) and the Esker Riada
An tSlí Mhór (The Great Way) and the Esker Riada

Three parishes and circa 74 townlands across the island of Ireland are named after eskers, ridges formed in glacial times. This article offers a few thoughts on how and why some of Ireland’s present-day roads have been used for several thousand years.

The Lucan Spa, County Dublin
The Lucan Spa, County Dublin

In 1645 Gerard Boate, a Dutch physician, compiled a book he called ‘Ireland’s Naturall History, …

Death of Sir Hector Maclean
Alexander McClintock of Trintaugh, County Donegal – The First Settler

It is said that the first of the family to come to Ireland was an Alexander McClintock who arrived in Donegal 1597. A mercenary, perhaps, who fought during the Nine Years War? And yet it seems more likely he arrived as part of a settlement arranged by Bishop Knox of Raphoe circa 1620s. The first known McClintock home was a farm at Trintaugh near the River Foyle. They built the nearby church at Taughboyne. This page seeks to flesh out what we know of these early settlers.

Of Chloroform & Ether, 1847
Of Chloroform & Ether, 1847

Prior to the 1840s, giving birth to a child, or having a limb amputated, or a bullet extracted, or tooth removed, all had one thing in common. Profound levels of pain. To the immense good fortune of future generations, humanity worked out how to rectify or substantially reduce such agony with the creation of two anaesthetics that swept across the world in 1847, chloroform and ether.

More Bronze Age gold hoards have been found in Ireland than anywhere else on earth, including eighty gold lunulae.  These decorated neck-collars, shaped like a crescent moon, are made of thin, hammered sheets of gold. 
By the Late Bronze Age, the fashion had moved towards bigger, wider, thinner ‘gorgets’, such as the beautiful gold collar found at Glenisheen, just east of Gregan Castle. The gorget is about the size of a 12-inch dinner plate and was crafted between 900 and 500BC. A teenage boy spotted it tucked into a limestone gryke while hunting rabbits in 1932. 
When Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the Glenisheen gorget was chosen as the symbol that defined the state’s cultural heritage.
A Short History of Irish Gold

There is gold in Irish hills, as evidenced by recent finds on the Armagh-Monaghan border, Slieve Glah in County Cavan and the Sperrins Mountains of County Tyrone. Ireland’s rapport with gold actually began about 4,000 years ago when the Bell-Beaker people arrived in from Europe, heralding the so-called Bronze Age. 

In 1975, four generations of FitzGeralds gathered at Langston House, Chadlington, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. L-R: Gerald (8th Duke of Leinster), with his grandson Thomas on his lap, seated near his father, the 7th Duke, with Maurice, the present duke standing in between. Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of the 2nd Duke is on the wall behind them.
Kilkea Castle 8 – Nightfall (1887-1961)

The FitzGeralds would face no end of challenges during the opening decades of the 20th century with two tragic deaths and the loss of a huge portion of their ancestral wealth. However, with the birth of the Irish Free State, Kilkea Castle in County Kildare remained home for many FitzGerald sons and daughters through both wars until 1961 when sold by the 8th Duke of Leinster.

‘The Couple Beggar’ by Ben Clayton appeared in The Irish Penny Magazine in 1833 when Schultz was at his busiest…
The Rev. John Schultz, The Tack ‘Em Clergyman

The Rev. John Schultz was a notorious German clergyman who married over 3,000 couples in Dublin between 1806 and 1837. Such marriages were often conducted in secret, perhaps because the couple were of mixed religion, or the bride was pregnant, or there was family disapproval, or simply to keep the costs low.

Pat Nixon.  Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Mrs. Nixon, the First Lady from County Mayo

The story of Richard and Pat Nixon's visit to Ireland in 1970, how they met, his connections to Kildare and Antrim, and her visit to meet her Ryan and Naughton kinsfolk near Ballinrobe, County Mayo. 

The River Chicago is dyed green every St Patrick's Day.
The Irish in Chicago

By 1890, Chicago had the third highest population of Irish emigrants in the USA. The city's heroes include Butch O'Hare, Captain Francis O'Neill, Richard Daley, Mother Jones and the men who built the I&M Canal. In the fall of 2024, Ireland House will open in the Chicago to house the Consulate General of Ireland and representatives from Ireland’s economic and trade promotion agencies. This page includes what is surely the most comprehensive list of Chicago-linked Irish-Americans online, thanks to Belinda Evangelista.

Dr Barry O'Meara. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Dr Barry O’Meara (1786-1836) – Napoleon’s Doctor

An account of the gung-ho surgeon from Blackrock, County Dublin, who became physician and friend to the fallen French Emperor during his exile on the island of St Helena.

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Raheny, County Dublin

Click here for further tales of Dublin City and County Dublin, including Kilbarrack, Harmonstown, Sutton, …

Butler’s Grange, County Carlow
Butler’s Grange, County Carlow

Click here for other stories about County Carlow places such as Tobinstown, Killerrig and Clonmore. …

The children at Tobinstown School.
The Townland of Tobinstown (in progress)

A working document about the townland south of Lisnavagh and east of Haroldstown, including Tobinstown School and the old pub.

Ireland's Forgotten Past
Ireland's Forgotten Past A History of the Overlooked and Disremembered

An alternative history that covers 13,000 years in 36 stories that are often left out of history books. Among the characters profiled are a pair of ill- fated prehistoric chieftains, a psychopathic Viking, a gallant Norman knight, a dazzling English traitor, an ingenious tailor, an outstanding war-horse and a brothel queen.

The archangel side of St Cuthbert’s coffin in Durham Cathedral.
Was St Cuthbert an Irishman?

St Cuthbert (c. 634– 687) was one of the most revered saints in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom …

The Earl of Wicklow was one of the 'bright young things' of the 1920s and 1930s. Illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Notes on Arklow, County Wicklow

The stories of the Arklow munitions factory, a 1920s party animal, an Olympic Gold medal winner, a spy called Agent ZigZag, a lady mariner, the man who made Jefferson presdient, and an old world cure for Charles Stewart Parnell's wounded hand. Extracted from Past Tracks. Irish translation included.

Dudley Colley crossing the Ha'penny Bridge. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Notes on Clondalkin & Fonthill, County Dublin

The stories of the poet laureate who asked Paddy Kavanagh to be a spy, a 1,200 year old Round Tower, a gentleman farmer who drove across Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge, a plethora or writers and boxers, and a devastating explosion at a gunpowder mill. Extracted from Past Tracks, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

A wolf hunt in the Great Scaldwood. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Coolmine and Blanchardstown, County Dublin

Click here for further tales of Dublin City and County Dublin, such as Clonsilla – …

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
J. Gordon Lewis (1892-1954) – The Cinematographer

Born into a Presbyterian family in Belfast, Lewis initially supported the Unionist cause but was so shocked by the execution of the Easter Rising leaders that he paid closer heed to the nationalist cause. He filmed many remarkable events from the period and did much to polish Michael Collins’ public image. In 1919, Lewis teamed up with the English film pioneer Norman Whitten to create film Aimsir Padraig / In the Days of St Patrick. His work can also be seen in George Morrison’s pioneering Irish language film Mise Éire, and its darker sequel, Saoirse.

County Antrim, 1878.
County Antrim – Choose a Topic

Choose from these topics for stories of people, families, events and places connected to County Antrim’s past

An old stone bridge carries the Belfast to Dublin railway line over the disused Lagan Canal near Moira. Photo: Wilson Adams.
The Lagan Navigation, County Antrim (1763-1958)

The Lagan had long seemed an intelligent trade route for the merchants of East Ulster, …

The Coalisland Canal (sometimes known as The Tyrone Navigation)
The Tyrone Navigation, aka the Coalisland Canal

The story of the 7.2km navigation designed to connect the boggy coal fields of Drumglass at Coalisland, County Tyrone, to Dublin City via Lough Neagh, the Bann and the Newry Canal.

The Newry Canal, from 'Ireland's Inland Waterways' by Ruth Delany.
The Newry Canal, 1742

Opened in 1742, the 18.5 mile Newry Canal was the first summit level canal in Britain or Ireland, a blueprint for future designs. Its purpose was to enable coal to be transported from the coalfields of County Tyrone coalfields, via Lough Neagh, to the wealthy homes of Georgian Dublin.

Catherine Disney. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Brabazon Disney – A Mostly Clerical Family

Looking at the life of an Irish clerical family whose best known members include John Disney, sometime Mayor of Galway, and Catherine Disney (1800-1853), a love interest of mathematician and astronomer Sir William Rowan Hamilton. 

Cathy Gannon. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Howth Junction & Donaghmede

The Grange   Most of present-day Donaghmede and Clongriffin falls within the 451-acre townland of …

Sir William Rowan Hamilton etches his famous formula. Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Notes on Broombridge & Cabra, County Dublin

Click here for further tales of Dublin City and County Dublin   Eureka!   Born …

Tom Cruise’s Irish Ancestry
Tom Cruise’s Irish Ancestry

Tom Cruise’s real name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. And he’s got so much Irish in him that he was awarded a Certificate of Irish Ancestry in 2013.

Arthur Corrie Lewin by Bassano (1920).
Arthur Corrie Lewin, DSO – Aviator Extraordinaire

The story of a Galway-born military commander who briefly went missing while flying over Africa …

Irish Cavalrymen, 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons, in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783
Bunbury of Kilfeacle & Shronell, County Tipperary

Following the descendants of Mathew Bunbury (1675-1733), fourth son of Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig, Co Carlow, from Tipperary and Kilkenny to Borneo and Australia, including the family of Field Marshal Lord Roberts and Henry Sadleir Prittie, 1st Baron Dunalley.

Headshot of Fr Patrick Lavelle
Father Patrick Lavelle (1825-1861) – The Patriot Priest of Partry.

The story of a courageous and fiery priest from County Mayo who sought to end landlordism, evictions and evangelical conversion of Catholic children in the 19th century and who was alleged to have stolen the famous Cross of Cong, one of Europe’s most valuable treasures. The cross was almost certainly commissioned in 1123 by Turlough Mór O'Connor, High King of Ireland.

The Glorious Madness - Reviews
The Glorious Madness – Reviews

The impressively versatile Turtle Bunbury is known for his sensitively written, well-observed Vanishing Ireland series of books and his appearance on RTE’s Genealogy Roadshow. He has an eye for irony and pathos and a fluid attractive writing style …

'The Seraph's Watch' by Ford Madox Brown
Art of 1847

Showcasing works by Dionysios Tsokos, Ford Madox Brown, Pavel Fedotov, Richard Airey, Antoine Wiertz, Charles Lees, David MacDonald, Friedrich Nerly, Thomas Websiter, John Everett Millais, Thomas Couture and others.

Reactions to the destruction of Carlow Castle. From an Illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Notes on County Carlow

The stories of a man born without limbs who became an explorer, as well as the Czech engineer who invented the water-bike, the murder of a Hollywood director, the prince of Antwerp who made Carlow his home, the crazy doctor who blew up Carlow Castle and the mystery of one of the world’s biggest ancient monuments. Extracted from Past Tracks, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

Barbara Verschoyle built churches, schools and convents in Dublin in the 19th century. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Notes on Booterstown, County Dublin

The stories of a multi-millionaire opera singer, a remarkable Georgian lady, an ancient highway, the most powerful politician in 20th century Ireland, a Sunday morning assassination and how the Radisson Blu was once given as a prize to a victorious general. Extracted from Past Tracks, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

The soprano Grace Bumbrey.
Bumbry (Bunbury) of Virginia

The eldest grandson of Sir Henry Bunbury went to North America as an indentured servant in 1660 and became a tobacco farmer in Virginia. His great-grandson Dick founded the Bunberry, or Bumbrey, family, from whom sprang Grace Bumbry, one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation. The family also connect to Abraham Lincoln’s assassin and Ronald Reagan’s near assassin.

A still from Kennet Branagh's acclaimed 1989 film, 'Henry V.'
Bunburys in the Medieval Age

Looking at the Bunbury family during the 100 Years War and the Wars of the Roses, including a timely sickie on the eve of Agincourt.

Notes on Charleville, County Cork
Notes on Charleville, County Cork

The Side-Switcher   Charleville was named in honour of Charles II who was restored to …

Tailteann Games poster
Strange Tales from Croke Park

Looking at the American Invasion Tour’ of 1888, the Tailteann Games of 1924-32 and the Thunder and Lightning Final of 1939.

Kilruddery House, Bray, County Wicklow,  in the 19th century.
Brabazon of Killruddery, County Wicklow – Earls of Meath, Barons Ardee

The Brabazons came to prominence during the Tudor conquest of Ireland when Henry VIII dispatched the shrewd Sir William Brabazon to Ireland as Vice-Treasurer. He established the family at Killruddery and his grandson was created 1st Earl of Meath in 1627. Over the next 300 years, the family would consolidate their influence in Wicklow, Ireland and the wider world of the British Empire.

Kelly’s has been a haunt beloved by judges and lawbreakers for over 300 years.  Photo: James Fennell.
Kelly's Cellars – Bank Street, Belfast

The oldest licensed premises in Belfast is also one of its most alluring. The pub was a meeting place for the United Irishmen in the run up to the disastrous rebellion of 1798. It is still easy to imagine such characters plotting revolution here over dark ales and tankards of mead. The pub has changed little since the age of Wolfe Tone and McCracken.

Eliza Lynch, 1864
Eliza Lynch, First Lady of Paraguay

Born in County Cork, in 1834, Eliza Lynch became the lover of Francisco Solano López, the president of Paraguay. In this essay, Turtle made the ground-breaking revelation that her father Dr John Lynch, died of a fever contracted in 1840 ‘in the discharge of his professional duties’ at the Charleville Dispensary and Fever Hospital.

Bunbury Bridge on the Barrow Navigation between Athy and Carlow.
Bunbury of Ardnahue & Liverpool

A lesser-known branch of the Bunbury tree is a Roman Catholic family of that name who lived in Ardnehue and Benekerry, near Johnstown, County Carlow, during the 18th and 19th century, from which outliers spread into Liverpool and Australia, and possibly Wisconsin and New Brunswick.