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This extensive archive offers hundreds of historical articles on (mostly Irish) families, houses, companies and events, including content from Turtle’s best-selling ‘Vanishing Ireland’ series, as well as ‘Easter Dawn’, ‘Dublin Docklands’, ‘The Irish Pub’, ‘Maxol’ and the ‘Past Tracks’ panels now on show at Irish Rail stations throughout Ireland.

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This considerable archive is updated, improved and expanded on a daily basis. You can also try searching by County, by Historical Era or by Category here. If any story you seek is incomplete or not showing up, please email us and we shall investigate.

ImageTitleSummary
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 saloons for gold-miners 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. 

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 …

Colour lithograph of a barber powdering a wig on a stand.
Thomas Bunbury of Kill (1705-1774)

The life of a Georgian gentleman farmer in 18th century Ireland as he extends his land ownership from County Carlow into Longford and Kildare. Thomas Bunbury was grandfather of Jane Bunbury who married John McClintock of Drumcar, from whom the McClintock Bunbury family descend, and also of Field Marshal Viscount Gough.

Turtle circa 1998 by Amy McElroy.
About Turtle Bunbury

An overview of Turtle's professional career, including bundles of photos from the last two or three decades.

Arthur Guinness
Arthur Guinness (1759-1803) – The Brewing Maestro

The story of the man who founded the famous brewery at St James's Gate in Dublin, including his ancestral link to the MacCartans of County Down, the controversy of his birth in Celbridge , his bequest from Archbishop Price and his marriage to the heiress Olivia Whitmore. 

A bust of Jonathan Swift, similarly hatted to  Thomas Finlay.
Jonathan Swift – A Tale of Two Women

Dean Swift, the celebrated satirist and author of such works as ‘Gulliver’s Travel’s’, was Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin for over thirty years. However, perhaps the greatest conundrum of his life was how to maintain an intimate relationship with two women, without one finding out about the other. 

The River Derreen at Acaun. Photo: Turtle Bunbury (2021)
The Monastic Townland of Acaun, County Carlow

Located just east of the Lisnavagh farmyard, Acaun is the smallest of Carlow County's 603 townlands. This account considers the origins of its monastery, mill-race and castle and touches on its connections to people such as Alice Kyteler, Bishop Ledred and Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick.

Sir Henry Sidney - Lord Deputy of Ireland (1565-1578)
Sir Henry Sidney – Lord Deputy of Ireland (1565-1578)

Looking at his lengthy service to the Tudors – including his boyhood friendship with Edward VI – and his controversial terms as the Viceroy, or Lord Deputy, of Ireland.

The principal front of Desart Court.
Cuffe, Earls of Desart – Ghostly Women and Forgotten Heroes 

The story of the Cuffes of Desart Court in the Irish county of Kilkenny is as sprawling an epic as ever there was. Over nine generations, the family were deeply ensconced in the affairs of Ireland and the Anglo-Irish world. Their rise through the ranks of Great Britain’s social hierarchy makes for a fascinating mirror of the rise of Britain itself, from uncertain nation state to brash and broody empire.

When College Green was Green
When College Green was Green

Looking at fabulous picture of Dublin's College Green in the Georgian Age by Joseph Tudor, the principal landscape painter of his day,

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.

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.

A tea set gifted by Lieutenant Michael Wogan Browne to his Friend, Peter Chaigneau. Wogan Browne apparently died in Peter Chaigneau's home, thought to have been No. 4 Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin.
Wogan-Browne of Clongowes Wood, County Kildare

A far too brief account of two families, Wogan and Browne, whose cast includes Judith Wogan-Browne, the founder of the Brigidine nuns; a former aide-de-camp to the King of Saxony; an architect who was refereeing Gaelic football matches in 1798; and a popular rugby player who was shot dead in Kildare in 1922. 

Rathmore Mill and Farm
Malone of Lisnavagh and Rathmore, County Carlow

The story of Joseph Malone, agent at Lisnavagh in the early Victorian era, and the Malones of nearby Rathmore.

Bellevue close up, Derry Dillon.
La Touche of Marlay, Bellevue & Harristown

Arguably Ireland’s most prominent Huguenot family in the Georgian Age, the La Touche family descend from David La Touche, a refugee from the Loire Valley who served at the Battle of the Boyne and went on to found the bank of La Touche & Sons. His descendants were to be instrumental in the evolution of Ireland’s banking institutions over the 18th century, and spearheaded educational reform in the 19th. The Harristown branch included John “The Master” La Touche, a fanatical evangelist, and his daughter, Rose, whose tragic romance with artist John Ruskin resulted in her untimely death at the age of 25.

Priscilla Middleton (1910-92) of Altamont, County Carlow
Priscilla Middleton (1910-92) of Altamont, County Carlow

There is a grave at Altamont, County Carlow, to a lady by name of Priscilla …

Close up of Derry Dillon's illustration of the FitzGerald ape.
FitzGerald of Carton House & Kilkea Castle, County Kildare – Earls of Kildare, Dukes of Leinster

The dramatic story of one of the most powerful families in Irish history – their early years as French-speaking adventurers, their rise to being a vital cog in the running of the Irish colony, their rebellions against the kings of England and their stunning decline when the pay-off of a gambling debt backfired.

Bob Murphy (1909-2002) – The End of an Era
Bob Murphy (1909-2002) – The End of an Era

A story about the first person interviewed for the Vanishing Ireland project, arguably the smartest dresser in Rathvilly, with a cameo from two eels. ‘We won’t get those people again,’ said his neighbour. ‘Bob was the end of an era.'

Memorial to Michael Fay, Rathvilly, erected in 2021.

"From Flanders plain across the Main,

There came a soldier bold,

who changed his mind, a place to find,

Beneath the Green and Gold,

In England's war he fought till it was o'er,

And his name was Michael Fay

By Barrow banks he joined the ranks,

The ranks of the IRA.' [1]
Michael Fay (1899-1921)

Michael Fay was killed in an ambush at Ballymurphy, County Carlow, in 1921. Born in Dublin, he grew up a virtual orphan before joining the British Army as a teenager in the First World War. He subsequently moved to Carlow where he worked as a gardener (possibly at Lisnavagh) and coachman / chauffeur (at Altamont). In 1920, he joined the Irish Republican Army who assigned him to the Carlow Brigade’s Active Service Unit. These notes were assembled when I was asked to deliver a speech at the launch of a memorial to him in Rathvilly on the centenary of his death.

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.

Cyril Fry’s Magnificent Model Railway Collection
Cyril Fry’s Magnificent Model Railway Collection

The Casino Model Railway Museum in Malahide, County Dublin, is home to probably the greatest private collection of miniature railway engines, wagons and carriages in existence, largely thanks to the genius of Cyril Fry and Tommy Tighe.

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.

The copse at Knocknagan which is said to be associated with the battle of Dunmachir.
Knocknagan by Lisnavagh, County Carlow

A consideration of the lands beside Lisnavagh, once part of the Bunbury empire, and its association with the Shepard, Nolan, Salter, Browne and Hopkins families, as well as the ancient ringfort.

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 .

Barry Yelverton, 2nd Viscount Avonmore
The Yelvertons, Viscounts Avonmore

Originating in Norfolk, the Yelvertons rose through the ranks in England to become, at various times, Baron Grey de Ruthyn, Earl of Kent and Earl of Sussex. Another branch moved to Ireland where Viscount Avonmore was a leading legal eagle in the Georgian Age. This takes in such events as the celebrated Yelverton v. Longworth case and explores connections to Blackwater (Cork), Portland and Belle Isle (Tipperary), and Whitland Abbey (Wales). Also covered are an early American connection and influential Australian emigres Charles Yelverton O'Connor and Henry John Yelverton.

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

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.

Galanthus 'Straffan' Snowdrop. With thanks to Jim Tancred.
Barton of Straffan House, County Kildare, and Grove, County Tipperary

The remarkable tale of the family of ‘Wine Geese’ who, having arrived in Ireland in the last year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, prospered in the wine trade despite the French Revolution.  They owned the Châteaux Léoville Barton and Langoa vineyards from where some of the finest clarets in France are still produced to this day, and co-founded Barton and Guestier. With their profits, they purchased Grove House in County Tipperary, and Straffan House in County Kildare, better known as the K-Club.

Memorial to Thomas Bunbury in Stoke (Stoak) Church
Thomas Bunbury (1606-1668) – Oxford Links

The Bunburys of Lisnavagh descend from Thomas Bunbury, son of Sir Henry Bunbury (1565-1634) of Stanney Hall, Cheshire. This page looks at his links to the Birkenhead family and Balliol College, Oxford, as well as Cromwellian links to Carlow town and the gruesome fate of his cousin Sir Arthur Aston during the siege of Drogheda of 1649.

Sir Ernest Shackleton - By Endurance, We Conquer
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.

Kick Kennedy and her husband Billy Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, heir apparent to the 10th Duke of Devonshire. He was killed in the Second World War about four months after their wedding.
Kick Kennedy, the Marquess & the Earl

On 13 May 1948, a plane crash in southern France ended the life of both Kick Kennedy, oldest sister of Jack and Bobby, and her lover, Peter, Earl Fitzwilliam. This story recounts the series of events that led up to the tragedy, including Kick's marriage to the Duke of Devonshire's heir, as well as the remarkable Irish connections to each of the protagonists.

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

Winnifred Letts published a series of remarkable war poems during the First World War, in which she worked as a 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. South Dublin Libraries hosted a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of her death in June 2022.

William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke (1147-1219) - The Greatest Knight
William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke (1147-1219) – The Greatest Knight

William Marshal was the most powerful Anglo-Norman lord to come to Ireland. A jousting champion, die-hard crusader and pre-Machiavellian tactician, he survived the turbulent courts of four Plantagenet Kings to become Regent of England, Lord of Leinster and the richest man in the British Isles by his death in 1219. As successor to Strongbow and Aoife, he did more to establish Anglo-Norman control in Leinster than any other man. He was also an enthusiast for roast rabbit and sautéed mushrooms…

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.

Benjamin Bunbury the magistrate, close up.
The Magistrate: Benjamin Bunbury (1751-1823) of Moyle & Killerig

Benjamin Bunbury was one of the younger sons of Thomas Bunbury of Kill but the death in a horse fall of his older brother William propelled him into the deep end as he took over the running of Lisnavagh, as well as Moyle and Killerrig, on behalf of his young nephew. He earned himself a reputation as something of a diplomat during the 1798 Rebellion but narrowly avoided being murdered by the Finnegan gang shortly before his death at the age of 72 .

Carlow Castle, as depicted in 'Antiquities of Ireland' (1792) by Captain Francis Grose.
Carlow Castle: Rise & Fall

A detailed history of Carlow Castle from its construction by the Normans over 800 years ago through to the present day, co-starring Prince Lionel of Antwerp and the extraordinary doctor who accidentally blew most of the building apart in 1814.

Kindred Spirits by Alex Pentek.
The Choctaw Nation’s Extraordinary Gift to Ireland, 1847

In 1847 the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma raised $170 for Irish famine relief. Their empathy was stirred by a similar experience during the early 1830s when between 1500 and 4,000 died Choctaw on the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’. This story explores the fate of the Choctaw and the two Irish-American brothers who helped them cross the Mississippi.

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.

Jimmy Ryan (1928-2018, Hurley Maker), Crosscannon, Killenaule, County Tipperary. Photo: James Fennell.
Jimmy Ryan (1928-2018) , The Hurley Maker – Crosscannon, Killenaule, County Tipperary

‘To make the perfect hurley, you need an ash tree that is between 25 and 35 years old. If the tree is any younger than that, you won’t get enough hurleys out of it. And if the tree has gone beyond 35, then the skin becomes too rough and the timber is old and brittle.’

Portrait of John Joseph Henry by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Henry of Straffan House & Lodge Park, County Kildare

Descended from a Presbyterian minister whose son struck gold in banking and linen, the family lived at Straffan House on the banks of the Liffey during the 18th century, as well as nearby Lodge Park. A high-profile marriage to the Earl of Milltown’s daughter gave them a prominent position in Irish society. Family members include Joseph Henry, one of Ireland’s greatest art connoisseurs; Admiral Hastings Yelverton, First Lord of the Admiralty; and Commander Michael Henry of the Polaris submarine.

De Robeck of Gowran Grange, Co. Kildare & the Focks of Estonia
De Robeck of Gowran Grange, Co. Kildare & the Focks of Estonia

Originating in Estonia and Sweden, the de Robecks came of age during the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars, while Admiral de Robeck was one of the principal figures in the Dardanelles campaign of the First World War. Other family members have been pivotal to the success of events such as the Punchestown races, the Kildare Hunt and the Dublin Horse Show.

De Burgh of Oldtown, Co. Kildare
De Burgh of Oldtown, Co. Kildare

Reputedly descended from Charlemagne, the de Burgh's role in Irish affairs has been immense since the first knights who cantered across the seas in the 12th century. The Oldtown branch was established in Kildare 325 years ago by Thomas Burgh, a brilliant military engineer. His descendants include the Georgian politicians Walter Hussey Burgh and John Foster, General Sir Eric de Burgh, the singer Chris de Burgh and the 2003 Miss World, Rosanna Davison.

Mary Osgood (née Clements) was embroiled in the Salem Witch Trials.
Clements of Killadoon, Co. Kildare

Following the fortunes of a family who arrived in Ireland with Cromwell’s army and scooped up estates in Cavan and Kildare, as well as the Earldom of Leitrim. Nat Clements, one of the great architects of Georgian Ireland, built the Irish President’s residence in Phoenix Park. Also looking at a branch of the family who emigrated to Massachusetts, where they became embroiled in the Salem Witch Trials.

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.

A Narrative of the Life of Benjamin Benson, Emancipated by the English Government, August 1, 1838, and Subsequently Sold as a Slave in the United States of America' was published in 1847.
Benjamin Benson – A Bermudan Evangelical in Ireland

The lesser known Irish connections to a former black slave who wrote ‘A Narrative of the Life of Benjamin Benson, Emancipated by the English Government, August 1, 1838, and Subsequently Sold as a Slave in the United States of America,' published in 1847.

Morristown Lattin was designed by William Deane Butler.
Mansfield of Morristown Lattin, County Kildare

The Mansfield family have been in Ireland at least since the 12th century. Penalized for their Catholicism in the 17th century, fortune returned when they married the sole heiresses of the Eustace and Lattin families, as well as a fortune from the Danish colony of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Latter day characters associated with the family include the parachuter Major Richard Mansfield, children’s author Brownie Downing and Fine Gael politician Gerard Sweetman.

Henry Ford (1863 –1947)
Henry Ford (1863 –1947)

Ford's grandfather emigrated to Michigan from Cork at the height of the Great Hunger; the Irish connection would lead to the establishment of the first Ford plant outside of the US in Cork in 1917.

Lady Franklin waits in vain for her husband's return. The child by her side is probably his daughter by a previous marriage.  Illustrated London News, 2 November 1977.
Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock & His Family

An especially accomplished branch of the family, descended from Harry McClintock, Collector of Customs at Dundalk port and uncle of the first Lord Rathdonnell. Harry's son Leopold would find lasting fame as the man who discovered the fate of Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition, while another son Alfred became Master of the Rotunda. Leopold's children included a naval veteran of Gallipoli, a Royal irish Constable and a New Zealand emigrant, while his grandson was one of the great keepers of Irish language literature.  

Kevin McClory. Illustrated by Derry Dillon.
Kevin McClory (1924-2006) – James Bond's Mentor

The flamboyant Hollywood producer Kevin McClory (1924-2006) grew up in Dublin. He is credited with converting James Bond’s character into the dashing, charismatic star of 27 hit films. In 1983 he co-produced ‘Never Say Never Again’, in which Sean Connery reprised his role as Agent 007 for the first time in twelve years.

Colley Siblings: Dudley, Jack, Noreen, Valery
The Colleys of Castle Carbery, Mount Temple & Corkagh

The story of the Colleys is a rip-roaring account from the first  dastardly Tudor to come to Ireland on Thomas Cromwell's watch through to the sad finale for Corkagh, the Colley house near Clondalkin, County Dublin. Among those profiled are the Duke of Wellington, the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, the Titanic victim Eddie Colley and the ancestors of the actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.

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.

Nicole Kidman’s Irish Ancestry
Nicole Kidman’s Irish Ancestry

A consideration of Nicole Kidman's connection to the Gallagher or Callachor family of Rathkenny, County Cavan, and George Townsend of the Trevallyn estate in Australia's Hunter Valley.

Snapshot of Mrs Butler, or a governess, with her children at Lisnavagh, c. 1901.
Charlie Butler (1860-1932) – Agent at Lisnavagh

A collection of photographs of Lisnavagh House, farmyard and nearby Germaine's from 1901, mostly connected to the agent Charlie Butler.

King Edward III's face from his bronze effigy in Westminster Abbey.
Wall (Du Valle) of County Carlow

From the time of the Anglo-Normans through until the end of the seventeenth century, a large swathe of land running east of Carlow town in Ireland was held by the Wall family. Much of this property was subsequently subsumed into the estates of the Bunbury and Burton family. The area has been home to humanity since ancient times – Johnstown, one of the Bunbury’s principal houses, is only a mile or so from the Browne’s Hill dolmen and boasted its own bullaun stone.

Above: Mantua, Swords, County Dublin, taken by Maurice Craig in the book, “Vanishing Country Houses of Ireland." This was Redmond
Kane’s house in the 1770s and is where his grandchildren, including the future Jane McClintock (Bunbury), were born. Sadly it was
subsequently demolished, but it looks like rather a remarkable pile. Mantua Road is still there, being a business park located
between the old Belfast Road and the Malahide Estuary.
Redmond Kane and the O'Cahan Family

The story of the O’Cahans of Limavady, who became the Kane family, prominent bankers, homing in on the attorney Redmond Kane of Mantua, Swords, County Dublin, one of the wealthiest commoners in Ireland during the late 18th century. He was also for many years the Solicitor to the Irish Company entrusted with management of what is now County Derry Londonderry. In time, the substantial Kane estates would pass to his grandson Colonel Kane Bunbury.

Pat Kenny's father with the elephants at Dublin Zoo. With thanks to Robyn Fallon.
Elephants at Dublin Zoo

“Oh, I can well remember the elephants, Sara and Komali! A penny’s worth of cubed stale bread to feed them and rides on Sara down by the lake!”

Dr Myddelton & the Destruction of Carlow Castle, 1814
Dr Myddelton & the Destruction of Carlow Castle, 1814

Carlow, Ireland, Sunday 13th February 1814, 9am. The explosions that shocked many of the town’s …

George Thomas by his open fire. Photo: James Fennell.
George Thomas (1926-2009), Farmer – Greenane Mor, Co. Wicklow

‘You couldn’t bring any lady to live under my conditions’, jokes George. ‘It’s been declared unfit for human habitation – but luckily I’m not human’. 

Photo: James Fennell.
Bill Burgess (1902-2007) – Ireland's Oldest Farmer – Tobinstown, County Carlow

‘I have no control over how long I live, but when I’ve gone? Well, as the man used to say when we'd meet on a bank in a chase, “Cheerio till the other side!”’ My neighbour Bill Burgess was the second oldest man in Ireland when he died in 2007. He was also the oldest farmer.

Ted Murphy's award-winning book,
'A Kingdom of Wine' celebrates the Irish Winegeese.
Ireland's Wine Geese

We may not have the climate to grow our own vines, but the Irish have done a colossal amount to develop the wine trade and spread those succulent grape juices across this world from France to California to Australia and New Zealand.

Coyle & Sons. Photo: James Fennell.
Coyles of Four Roads, County Roscommon

Simon Coyle, the fourth generation of his family to run the pub, pulled his first pint when he was five years old. It is in pubs such as this that plots are hatched and loyalties sworn.

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.

Photo: James Fennell.
Mary Kennedy’s of Callaghane Bridge, Co. Waterford

Set in a vernacular Irish cottage, Kennedys has been serving pints since the 1880s. Traditionally it was a community pub where farmers and labourers from the parish came to drink and play poker and music and catch up on the gossip. Sometimes they came to fight.

The grocery and bar sections run along opposing sides of the wall, separated by a flagstone floor salvaged from the pavement of Dublin’s Mountjoy Square. The counter tops were salvaged from an abandoned ship in Belfast Harbour. Photo: James Fennell.
Leonard’s of Lahardane, Co Mayo

In 1943, Laurence Leonard, gave up his career at a wholesalers in Belmullet and opened a grocery bar that offers offering the sheepfarming community a useful array of tea, sweets, boots, shoes, hardware, seeds, wine, spirits and beer.

McGinn’s pub was bought in trust for Annie’ father Hugh McGinn over a hundred years ago. Photo: James Fennell.
McGinn's of Newbliss, Co. Monaghan

The pub was purchased in 1912 in trust for Annie’s father, Hugh McGinn. He was in America at the time, having emigrated there with the rest of the family. Fortunately he had mastered the bar trade, running a pub in downtown Manhattan with his brother.

Floral stools run the length of the narrow, green bar room, encouraging intimate banter between customer and landlady. Photo: James Fennell.
Murray’s of Maghera, Co. Westmeath

A white-washed 18th century cottage with an asbestos roof boasts one the smallest bars in the land. Behind the counter stands Lizzie, the fourth generation of the Murray women to run the bar. 

The stout black pub features in the Guinness brewery’s Christmas television advertisement.
Mrs O's (O’Connell’s Bar) – The Hill of Skryne, Co. Meath

I visited the legendary Mrs. O at this pub in 2008, and again in 2012, shortly before she passed away. On the latter occasion, I was blessed to unite with Terry Wogan for a quick televised chat about the Boyne. Mrs O's pub was a cinnamon-hued step back in time to a 1950s country bar.

Old whiskey jars and photographs from the Lawrence Collection adorn the upper shelves of the main bar. Photo: James Fennell.
O’Shaughnessy’s (The Ivy House) of Glin, Co. Limerick

Hungarian-born Dody Meer and her husband Captain John O’Shaughnessy did much to make this pub a landmark institution of the Shannon region during the late 20th century, a legacy their son is determined to continue.

Photo: James Fennell.
O'Shea's of Borris, County Carlow

The pub has been frequented by some of the most powerful minds of the 21st century, who swing by after (and occasionally before) their performances at the nearby Festival of Writing and Ideas at Borris House, which began in 2012.

Photo: James Fennell.
Gartlan’s Bar – Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.

Gartlan’s is a traditional grocery bar, nicknamed the Hypermarket by its regulars. It has hardly changed since Paul’s grandfather George Gartlan first opened it in 1911. ‘Well, we’ve dusted it once or twice’, admits Paul.

A squash racquet and a carpet beater frame a travelling priest's altar from penal times, found in New York. Photo: James Fennell.
PJ Guerin (The Kingfisher) of Castleconnell, Co. Limerick

Paddy’s pub offers perhaps a dozen different seating arrangements, flowery sofas, quirky bar stools, upturned half-casks, railway benches, church pews, rough wooden tables, everything different. ‘I’m like a crow', he says. ‘I pick up things. Everything is borrowed, never given back or stolen’.

Behind the bar at Smyth's. Photo: James Fennell.
P. F. Smyth of Newtown Co. Carlow

P.F. Smyth’s, now sadly closed, was one of Ireland’s longest family-run licensed premises, with records dating to the mid-1740s. It was also once the premier music hall in County Carlow – a piano lounge with the sort of pin-striped, red leather ambience you’d expect of a Roaring Twenties cruise ship. ‘If you didn’t come before nine on a Saturday night, you had to stand.”

Somers of Clogh, County Kilkenny
Somers of Clogh, County Kilkenny

Closed since 2008, Somers pub was also where Eddie did his accountancy business. His eyes shone when he talked figures, shillings and sixpences, percentages and additions and, above all, logical ways to increase one’s money. ‘It’s all about management’, he counselled.

Pa Byrne, with dog Sandy, inherited the pub from his mother’s family in the 1980s. Photo: James Fennell.
M.J. Byrne's – Greenane, Co. Wicklow

‘There was no such thing as stabbing or kicking that time. If you pulled a …

Dating to the late 18th century, the two-storey public house bore witness to the violence of the 1798 Rebellion. Photo: James Fennell.
E. Butterfields – The Harp Bar, Ballitore, Co. Kildare

Dating to the late 18th century, the two-storey public house in Ballitore bore witness to the violence of the 1798 Rebellion. Today, a vast open hearth brick fireplace smokes beside an organ, delineating the space where musicians gather on certain Wednesday evenings. Old tables and chairs are scattered randomly across a cracked flagstone floor.

Kane Smith of Moyle

Col. Kane Bunbury was the second son of William Bunbury of Lisnavagh, MP for Carlow, …

Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson – Of Wooden Legs & Birthday Gifts

Homing in on how the author of ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ enjoyed his time on the Pacific Island of Samoa where he read bedtime stories to the future Marjorie Leslie of Castle Leslie, County Monaghan.

Harrington with Eileen Grey, pictured in The Tatler of 24 December 1941, following their engagement.
Bill Harrington, 11th Earl of Harrington (1922-2009)

This story followed my meeting with Bill in 2005 in which he told me he had personally arrested Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, Hitler's successor as President of the German Reich. Sadly the facts don't add up but Bill, who was one of my grandfather's greatest friends, nonetheless lived an incredible life.

Admiral Doenitz (from a photo at the RAF Museum, Hendon).
Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz (1891-1980)

Looking at the man who was handed arguably the biggest hospital pass in history – the role of Adolf Hitler's successor.

Dublin-born Samuel Clayton, a convicted forger who produced Australia's first bank notes.
Samuel Clayton: Forger, Freemason, Freeman

The story of the convicted master forger from Dublin who founded Freemasonry in Australia and produced Australia's first bank notes.

Arms of the Marquess of Waterford
Beresford of Curraghmore – Marquess of Waterford

The story of a family from Staffordshire in England who prospered in Ireland in the wake of King William's victory at the Boyne, marrying the heiress of wealthy Power family and acquiring the titles of the Earl of Tyrone and Marquess of Waterford. Also told here is the story of Lord William Beresford and Edmund O'Toole, who won Victoria Crosses after an especially close call during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Detail from a 1758 portrait of Thomas Conolly (1738-1803) by Anton Raphael Mengs.
Conolly of Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Charting the rise of Speaker Conolly, an innkeeper’s son from Donegal who became the most powerful man of his generation. His magnificent Palladian residence at Castletown House, Celbridge, is one of the Irish nation’s greatest treasures. Also looking at connections to the disastrous 1798 Rebellion, the beautiful Lennox sisters, the Charlston Blockade and the Irish Georgian Society.

Above: Johnstown House, near Carlow Town, 2020.
Bunbury of Johnstown House, County Carlow, Ireland

A branch of the Bunbury family lived at Johnstown House outside Carlow town for most of the 18th and early 19th century. This account looks at such characters as the travel writer Selina Bunbury and the pioneering postmaster Sir Henry Noel Bunbury, as well as connections to the Irish Volunteers, William Pitt, Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton, Oscar Wilde, the Conellan family and sub-branches in Liverpool, Essex and Cuba.

Above: William Tighe by Thomas Pooley 1679
Tighe of Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny, and Rossana, 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.

Above: Molesworth Street, 2021.
A History of Molesworth Street, Dublin

A history of the central Dublin street from its origins as a playground for citizens during the Tudor age through its development by families such as Molesworth, Rosse, Dawson and Hamilton, to its gentrification in the 19th century and its reemergence as an urban hotspot in the 2020s.

William Caldbeck (1733-1803) & the Moyle Park Gunpowder Mills
William Caldbeck (1733-1803) & the Moyle Park Gunpowder Mills

An account of the amateur architect and barrister who built a gunpowder mills for the Irish Volunteers in Clondalkin, County Dublin, in 1782, only for the mills to explode dramatically five years later.

The 54-metre high Fastnet Lighthouse, the tallest in Ireland, was designed by William Douglass and built under the supervision of James Kavanagh between 1897 and 1904.
The Fastnet Tragedy of 1979

For sailors, the biennial Fastnet Race has marked the climax of the summer races since 1925. In 1979, a freak storm overwhelmed the great flotilla in the tempestuous Celtic Sea, leaving 15 yachtsmen and four spectators dead.

Leafy Seahorse. Photo: Tony Browne.
Fishy Tales from Tampa, Florida (2001)

The deeper in you go, the greater the depths the creatures on display represent. An encounter with non-plussed ducks, sleepy alligators, harmless tarantulas, a shovelnose guitarfish and, king of the crazy shapes, the leafy seahorse.

Spotlight on Belfast - City of Music & Joy
Spotlight on Belfast – City of Music & Joy

Belfast City, Northern Ireland's progressive capital, developed as a great port and industrial centre during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 2021, Belfast was awarded prestigious UNESCO City of Music status, while the Array Collective, a Belfast-based group, won the Turner Prize and Kenneth Branagh's movie ‘Belfast' won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2022.  The Belfast International Arts Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and runs from 6 October to 7 November 2022.

The Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773)
The Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773)

‘The world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description; one must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it’. A short account of Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694 – 1773), British statesman, man of letters and arguably the most liberal Lord Lieutenant Ireland ever had.

Croquet - The Forgotten Irish Sport
Croquet – The Forgotten Irish Sport

Croquet as we know it apparently originated on the west coast of Ireland. Alas, while the thought of Croke Park becoming the national stadium for future croquet clashes is endearing, one would be hard pushed to say croquet was strictly an Irish game. It was more of a gentry thing …

Evelyn Kelly Lambert (1907-2004). Photo: James Fennell.
Evelyn Kelly Lambert (1907-2004) – The American Widow who Conquered Europe

In 2001, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks as the guest of 93-year-old Mrs Lambert, collector, philanthropist and grande dame of late 20th century Dallas, at Casa Leon, her wonderful home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Evelyn and her late husband Joe Lambert were icons of Dallas and Venice in the 1960s and 1970s.

Bob Dylan - Kilkenny 2001
Bob Dylan – Kilkenny 2001

Memories of a remarkable night in Kilkenny in 2001 when Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and the Blind Boys of Alabama lit up the marble city.

One of William Whitelocke-Lloyd's sketches of the British army preparing to knuckle down against the Zulus.
William Whitelocke-Lloyd: The Irishman who Sketched the Zulu War

The story of an independent spirit from County Waterford who was kicked out of Oxford for partying too noisily, and found himself painting the horrors of the Anglo-Zulu War while serving with the the 24th Foot in the time of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, plus the back-story of the Whitelocke and Lloyd families.

The Trench Family, Earls of Clancarty
The Trench Family, Earls of Clancarty

A remarkable family, descended from a French Huguenot refugee whose grandson established the family at Ballinasloe in County Galway. Headed up by the Earl of Clancarty, its prominent figures include one of the architects of modern Europe after Napoleon's fall, a 20th century UFO expert and a celebrated dancing girl of the Victorian Age. 

Temple House, Co. Sligo - Atlantic Stronghold of the Knights Templar
Temple House, Co. Sligo – Atlantic Stronghold of the Knights Templar

Temple House in County Sligo has a rich history reaching back to the 13th century, when it was a stronghold of the Knights Templar, and quite probably many centuries, or millennia, before that. The property has belonged to the ancestors of the Perceval family since the 17th century and Temple House is now one of Ireland's most beloved places to stay. The two articles that follow below are already quite elderly.

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.

King William III by an unknown artist, oil on canvas, c. 1690, 85.5 x 68.25 in, National Portrait Gallery, London.
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.

You needed a lot of neck to be a sailor in the 1830s. And judging by this portrait of Captain William McClintock Bunbury, he wasn't short of neck. The portrait is held at Lisnavagh, the mansion he commissioned during the 1840s. The portrait suggests a kindly
man whose sea-faring career ensured he was well used to staring into the middle distance.
Captain William McClintock Bunbury, R.N., Part 2: The Sea Years (1813-1835)

In 1813, 13-year-old William McClintock Bunbury joined HMS Ajax as a first-class volunteer, participating in his first sea battle the following year. Over the next two decades he would rise through the naval ranks and travel astonishing distances across the southern hemisphere. Most of this was on board HMS Samarang, a sister ship of HMS Beagle, and Charles Darwin was never far away. Meanwhile, as William IV succeeded George IV, and slavery is abolished, there is pile up of family tragedy in store … 

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

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

Bill and Birdie Martin. Photo: James Fennell.
Romance in Ballitore: Bill Martin (1921-2019) & Birdie Martin (1931-2022)

Bill and Birdie are as charming a couple as you can meet. They still flirt and rile and tease and torment and love each other, just as they did back in the early 1960s when Bill first offered to walk her home from a dance in Crookstown. ‘He asked me after only one waltz,’ says Birdie, still bashful at his haste. ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into, mind! He was my first and only one.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Eamon Madden (1924-2022) – The Blacksmith of Athenry, County Galway

‘It was a new world,' says Eamon, of the 1960s. ‘The farmers still needed to repair their ploughs and grubbers and the harrows and the grills that kept the cattle in. But they also needed us to work with the tractor and all the implements that followed, to adjust them or put a piece onto them or, if they were broken, to fix them.’

Radley’s Hotel at 11 College Green, Dublin. According to Archiseek, the fine but austere seven-bay three-storey granite building of Radley's Hotel was completed in 1799 to a design by Edward Park. It stood at the corner of Dame Street and Trinity Street, on the old Fownes Court, and included a very handsome pedestrian shortcut through the building and courtyard to Cope Street in London. In 1805, it became a meeting place for the Ouzel Galley Society which dealt with ship insurance and arbitration, and later became a part of Dublin Chamber of Commerce. The beautiful hotel was pulled down to make way for what I would deem an eyesore, but others might like, namely the Central Bank of Ireland, built by Sam Stephenson in 1975. The bank was built higher than planning permission allowed but this was retrospectively rectified.
The Radley Family – Hoteliers & Copper Smelters

A look at a family who developed extensive hotel interests across Britain and Ireland during the early Victorian Age. They started the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool, as well as Radley’s Hotel on College Green, Dublin, and other hotels in London and Southampton. The family, whose name passed to my great-uncle Anthony Radley Drew, also had an interest in the copper-smelting business at St Helen’s, Lancashire.  

Detail from the McClintock of Trintaugh tablecloth from circa 1736.
John McClintock of Trintaugh (1698-1765)

John McClintock of Trintaugh, County Donegal, was the third surviving son of John and Janet McClintock of Trintaugh. A favourite of his older brother Alexander, which irked his other brother William of Cappagh, he was father to 13 children including Bumper Jack McClintock of Drumcar, Alexander McClintock of Seskinore and Anne McClintock (grandmother of the 1st Baron Lisgar).

This is believed to be Edward Wingfield, 2nd Viscount Powerscourt, who died unmarried in May 1764, aged 34.
Wingfield, Viscounts Powerscourt of Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Powerscourt House is one of the most famous Georgian houses in Ireland. Built in the 1740s, it was devastated by fire in 1974 but subsequently rebuilt. The estate takes its name from the de la Poer family who built a castle here in Norman times. In 1608, the property came to the possession of Sir Richard Wingfield, a prominent general in the English army. This story of their descendants included one of Lord Byron’s closest friend, a man who hosted George IV to dinner and Sarah, Duchess of York. The Slazengers of Powerscourt are closely related to the present Viscount.

At Caher Castle, two iron cannonballs - one in the wall of the keep, another in the wall of the north east tower - are left as evidence that the Siege of Caher did actually happen once upon a time. In 2022, the 700-year-old castle won the  prestigious European Film Commissions Network Location Award 2021, having served as a location for numerous movies and television, including "The Green Knight," "The Tudors" and "Excalibur."
Robert Essex & the Siege of Caher

Following the rise and fall of one of Queen Elizabeth I's favourites, and his connection to a canon ball wedged into the wall of Caher Castle in County Tipperary.

The Sun King, Louis XIV of France, whose ill-advised Revocation of the Edict of Nantes dispatched thousands of Protestant Huguenots to Ireland.
Chaigneau of Corkagh & Youghal

The story of a Calvinist Protestant (or Huguenot) dynasty from France who relocated to Ireland in the 17th century. Louis Chaigneau, a wealthy Dublin wine and property merchant, built Corkagh House in Dublin, as well as properties in Gowran, County Kilkenny. Also looking at connections to Wolfe Tone, the actress Peg Woffington and a well-connected army agent.

Major William Arabin was to be immortalized in the painting ‘Major Arabin as Sir Bashful Constant’ by John Downman in 1787.
Arabin of Corkagh & Moyglare

The tale of a French gentry family who fled their homeland, prospered as officers in William of Orange’s army and ran the gunpowder mills at Corkagh near Clondalkin, Co. Dublin, for almost 40 years, with cameos by a disgraced Lord Mayor, a cuckolded husband and a Commander-in-Chief of India.

Corkagh House was home to the Finlay and Colley family for over 200 years between 1750 and 1960, when the house was demolished by its new owners.
General Henry de Grangues of Corkagh House, County Dublin

The tale of a French emigre who commanded Wynne’s Dragoons, the second most senior cavalry regiment in the British Army, before retiring to live at Corkagh House in south County Dublin.

Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford.
The Chenevix Family & the Gunpowder Mills of Corkagh, County Dublin

In the 18th century, the descendants of Monsieur Chenevix d’Eply, one of Louis XIV’s councillors, excel in Ireland. One serves at the battle of the Boyne, another perishes at Blenheim. One becomes chaplain to the Earl of Chesterfield; another, the Bishop of Waterford. A branch run the gunpowder mills at Corkagh, while yet more become leading lights of the Gaelic League.

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 McClintock Family in Scotland
The McClintock Family in Scotland

The McClintocks were a Scottish family who settled in north west Donegal (Trintaugh) during the early 17th century and spread east into Counties Derry (Dunmore), Tyrone (Seskinore) and Louth (Drumcar, Red Hall, Newtown). In 1798, John McClintock married Jane Bunbury and so gave life to the McClintock Bunburys of Lisnavagh. The McClintock genes claim to a number of historical celebrities including Generals Montgomery and Alexander, Speaker John Foster, the Barons Rathdonnell, Brigadier Dame Mary Colvin and the explorer Sir F. Leopold McClintock.

Section of Mount Edgcumbe Panorama (Men-of-War and other vessels on Hamoaze) c.1779
Peart Robinson of Burnley & Chatburn, Lancashire

A cast that includes the extraordinary Dutch SOE operative Door de Graaf,  the homeopathic surgeon Dr Drysdale, the German novelist Wilhelm Christoph von Polenz, a bailiff of Clithero, a pioneer of the Arts and Craft movement (John Gorges Robinson), the directors of Craven Bank and my great-grandmother's family.

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 1597. He may have been a mercenary who fought during the Nine Years War of the 1590s, or he may have been mythical. It seems more likely the family arrived as part of a settlement arranged by Bishop Knox of Raphoe circa 1620s. Their first known home was a farm at Trintaugh near the River Foyle in County Donegal. They built the nearby church at Taughboyne. This page seeks to flesh out what we know of the early settlers.

Churchill with Montgomery and Alexander; both generals were part McClintock.
James McClintock of Trintaugh (1735-1786) & the Rathdonnell House Link

The family fortune floundered when one extravagant individual kept 29 hunters and coach-horses in his stable, and always drove with four horses in his coach, but, on the positive side, the hymm-writer C F Alexander, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein and Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis were all part-McClintock.

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.

Shah Alam hands a scroll to Robert Clive.
The Alexanders, Earls of Caledon

The Alexander family emigrated from Scotland to Ireland with the plantations of the early 17th century and prospered as merchants in Limavady, Londonderry and Dublin. The most successful family members was James Alexander, who made his fortune as a nabob of the East India Company in India in the 1770s and became the 1st Earl of Caledon. Other descendants include Field Marshal Alexander of Tunis, a Primate of All-Ireland and the milling Alexanders of Milford, County Carlow.

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. 

This gentleman is said to have been William Hickey (with an Indian servant) who sailed to India with Alexander McClintock in 1769. Did Alexander did soon after his arrival?
William McClintock of Lifford (1724-disinherited)

Disinherited for marrying his first cousin Francelina Nesbit, William had further heartache with the premature death in India of his son Alexander, a friend of the diarist William Hickey.

Scene from Romeyn de Hooghe, Siege of Londonderry, 1689
John McClintock (1649-1707) of Trintaugh (Treantagh), County Donegal

John was the oldest known son of Alexander McClintock and his wife Agnes (née Stinson / Maclean). The ancestor of the McClintocks of Drumcar, Lisnavagh, Seskinore and Red Hall, he was 21 years old when his father died. His wife Jenet was the daughter of John Lowry, a prosperous Scottish landowner who settled in County Tyrone. Also looking at links to Donegal townlands of Trentaghmucklaugh, Leck and Trensallagh.

Baron Lisgar & The Youngs of Bailieborough
Baron Lisgar & The Youngs of Bailieborough

A little bit of salacious Victorian gossip, and East Indies Company shenanigans, connected to a line of the McClintocks.

George Colley served at the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816. Painted by George Chambers.
McClintock of Castrues & Prospect Hill, County Donegal

A quick look at a Donegal branch of the family, including Lieutenant Henry McClintock, a protege of Admiral Lord Exmouth, who died before he could achieve his ambitions.

Detail from Philadelphia 1778
William McClintock (1697-1774) of Cappagh & the Pennsylvania Links

A branch of the Donegal family who made their mark in Pennsylvania, including the McClintock Slave Riot of 1847, when John McClintock was accused of instigating a riot that resulted in the rescue of a number of fugitive slaves

A lime-wood rendition of the coat of arms, which was made in 2019 by Sarah Goss. (With thanks to Alex Watson)
McClintock of Newtown (Louth) & Seskinore (Tyrone)

This branch of the family descend from Alexander McClintock (1746-1796) of Newtown, County Louth, whose son Samuel succeeded to the Perry family home of Perrymount, also known as Seskinore, in County Tyrone. The story culminates in a sad episode in the 1930s, as well as the demolition of Seskinore.

Young Dororthea.
Dorothea Findlater (1909-2017) – Ireland’s Oldest Woman in 2017

Dorothea Findlater, née de Courcy-Wheeler, was the oldest woman in Ireland for ten weeks before her death in 2017. As a child, she saw her father set off to Dublin to arrest Michale Mallin and Constance Markiewicz during the Easter Rising. He also took the famous photo of Pearse’s surrender, from which Nurse O’Farrell was subsequently air-brushed from history.

Mision del Sol, Mexico: Quatro Manos (2001)
Mision del Sol, Mexico: Quatro Manos (2001)

The Misión del Sol has every intention of alternatively pampering and beating you up so that you will leave with a spring in your stride, a song in your heart and a healthy determination to get all your coughing, spluttering, stressed out amigos to check in asap.

Jersey - An Island of Potatos & Pretty Cows
Jersey – An Island of Potatos & Pretty Cows

Situated 14 miles off the north west coast of France, the Channel Island of Jersey …

One of several photograph taken by Sergeant Andrew Gordon of Stepaside police station at the behest of Superintendent John Reynolds, the first Garda officer at the scene of the crime. It shows Lily O’Neill’s corpse by Ticknock Crossroads on the morning of 9 June 1925. According to Patricia Hughes, granddaughter of Lily O'Neill, the photos were neither shown nor alluded to during the trial of her alleged killers.
Who Killed Honor Bright?

An intriguing and controversial book in which Patricia Hughes proposes that her grandmother Lily O'Neill, aka Honor Bright, was the mother of W. B. Yeats lovechild, and that she was then murdered in a plot hatched by Yeats’ jealous wife George and carried out by the Irish Free State authorities.

Aerial view of Dublin with the River Liffey running through.h
32 Top Visitor Sites in Dublin (2022)

With Summer 2022 underway, the Irish capital has plenty to offer first-time visitors and indigenous Dubliners alike. Here's 32 of the city's highlights. 

The Forth Bridge, one of the great masterpieces of Victorian engineering. Credit: Getty Images
Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), or, How A Boiled Sheep’s Head Shaped The Industrial Age

The greatest bridge builder of his generation learned his craft while singeing hair off sheep's heads in a blacksmith's forge as a boy. He went on to build works such as the Forth Bridge and the Tay bridge in Scotland, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Arrol Gantry in Belfast, Tower Bridge in London, the Nile Bridge in Egypt, the Hawkesbury Bridge in Australia and all the bridges along the Manchester Ship Canal.

The Maxol Story
The Maxol Story

Turtle was commissioned to research, write and  produce the history of Maxol as a handsome coffee table. He also converted the history into an 11-part podcast series, which he narrated.

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.

In 2011, Turtle interviewed the then 88-year-old Baby (Babs) Rudden, the cover-girl of the second 'Vanishing Ireland', for RTE 1's 'Nationwide'. The show aired on 5 July and was watched by 33.8% of Irish televisions. Photo: James Fennell.
Baby Rudden (1923-2015) – The Farmer of Redhills

An interview with the charming cover star of the second Vanishing Ireland book, recounting the challenges of farming cattle in the damp County Cavan countryside.

John Kay's depiction of  Charles Byrne towering over the extra short George Cranstoun and three contemporaries of more conventional height.
Charles Byrne, the Irish Giant (1761-1783)

It’s not often that a funeral director buys everyone a drink, but this undertaker had his reasons … The story of a giant from County Derry, a household name in 18th century London, the fate of his corpse and the important role his DNA has played in identifying the “gigantism gene”.

A miniature portrait of Thomas
Bunbury as a young boy, presumably about
the time of his father's death.
Thomas Bunbury III of Lisnavagh (1775-1846), MP for Carlow

A chronological account of the bachelor Thomas Bunbury, eldest son of William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh and his wife Katherine (née Kane), taking in the tragic deaths of his father and sister, his time at Oxford, his connections to Bath and his role as an MP and magistrate in County Carlow on the eve of the Great Hunger.

John Richardson (1580–1654), Bishop of Ardagh, son-in-law to Sir Henry Bunbury. His portrait was engraved by T. Cross and prefixed to his Choice Observations.
Sir Henry Bunbury (1565-1634)

Henry Bunbury was grandfather of the Benjamin Bunbury who first acquired the land in County Carlow, Ireland. Henry succeeded as head of the family in 1601 and was knighted two years later by the new king, James I. He appears to have been of Calvinist persuasion in religion, encouraged by his second wife Martha, but his first cousin Sir Arthur Aston was a prominent Catholic mercenary and his children would chose opposing sides in the Civil War.

Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid (1859-1882)

A veritable Irish desperado if ever there was one, Billy the Kid was born ‘Henry McCarty', the son of an Irish emigrant, and raised amid the ramshackle tenements of New York's Lower East Side before he headed off to the Wild West.

Huntington Castle has been in existence since the 17th century.
Huntington Castle – Ghostly Tales & Worthy Fellowships

Huntington Castle has always had an otherworldly ambience. Just over a hundred years ago, a meteorite fell to earth and landed near the avenue. The story takes in Franciscan monks, Tudor bigamists, American pioneers, ghosts a-plenty and a cellar devoted to devoted to an Egyptian Goddess.

During his younger years, Windham Quin was a member of the Limerick Hellfire Club, a satirical gentlemen’s club that met at Askeaton, 15km north-west of Adare. He appears in this painting by James Worsdale, a co-founder of the club, which was painted between 1736 and 1740. The work depicts Windham alongside eleven other merry men, and one woman, drinking, smoking and chatting, with bottles of wine on a rack in the foreground, and a large bowl of punch on the table. (Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland).
Chapter 1: ‘O, Sweet Adare!' – The Early Years

Return to Contents   Extracted from ‘Adare Manor: The Renaissance of an Irish Country House’ …

Lisnavagh in the Down Survey
The Pre-Bunbury History of Lisnavagh, County Carlow

A look at the origins of Lisnavagh's name, and the various players – Butler, Leyn, Meredith, Gilbert and Korton – who were connected to the townland before the Bunburys arrived. The more I learn about the past, the more connected I feel to the future.

Above: Browne's Hill, County Carlow, pictured in 2020. The house is thought to have been built in 1763.
Browne Clayton of Browne's Hill, County Carlow

An account of the family who lived at Browne's Hill outside Carlow from 1763 through until the 1950s, including the Browne Clayton Column (modelled on Pompey’s Pillar in Egypt) in Wexford, and a more recent connection to the last days of the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot.

Viewmount lease in the Dublin Evening Post, 9 February 1790
Viewmount House, County Carlow

The story of one of County Carlow's oldest mansions, a Browne-Clayton house, and its connection to Sir Edward Crosbie, executed in 1798.

Humewood Castle, County Wicklow
Humewood Castle, County Wicklow

Humewood Castle is without doubt one of the most eccentric buildings in Ireland. Built in 1868 for Fitzwilliam Dick, it later passed to his granddaughter, Mimi, who married General Maxim Weygand, commander-of-chief of the Allied forces in Europe on the eve of the German invasion of France. The castle is now owned by the American business executive and philanthropist John Malone whose extensive refurbishment earned Humewood the best conservation/restoration scheme award from the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 2016.

Waterways Through Time', a podcast series by Turtle, launched on his 50th birthday.
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.

Illustration: Derry Dillon.
Kilkenny – Historical Tales

The Kilkenny ‘Past Tracks' panel features short accounts of Ellen, Countess of Desart; Hubert and Peggy Butler (of Butler Gallery fame); Lionel of Antwerp & the Statutes of Kilkenny; Jonathan Swift, George Berkeley & Kilkenny College; Martin Renehan – White House Doorman; and the tragic fate of Petronella, servant to Alice Kyteler, burned at the stage by wicked Bishop Ledred. With Irish translations by Jack O’Driscoll.

Past Tracks - An Illustrated Journey Through Irish History
Past Tracks – An Illustrated Journey Through Irish History

Like Paddington Bear, Past Tracks came to life on a railway platform. In fact, so …

Detail from Slaves cutting the sugar cane - Ten Views in the Island of Antigua (1823)
Hugh Mills 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.

The Pitons of St Lucia, where Thomas Bunbury was Governor.
Bunbury of Cloghna, Cranavonane & Marlston

Descended from a younger son of Benjamin Bunbury of Killerrig, this branch settled in the region of the River Barrow in County Carlow. One ran The Bear Inn in Carlow. Another was a wine merchant on Bow Street, Dublin, who intermarried with the Mill family, wine merchants of Exeter. This marriage brought them to Marlston House, Berkshire. Family members include a leading diplomat in New Zealand, a Governor of St Lucia and a Privy Chamberlain to Pope Pius XI, as well as the ancestors of the Versturme Bunburys and the Guyana branch.

Silken Thomas, illustrated by Derry Dillon
Silken Thomas FitzGerald's Rebellion, 1534-1536

In 1534, Silken Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, flung down his Sword of State in front of the Council of State and renounced his allegiance to Henry VIII. This was the opening gambit of a rebellion in which FitzGerald attempted to capture Dublin Castle, only to be executed in London, along with five of his uncles, on what was possibly the blackest day in the long, epic history of the FitzGerald family.

Back garden at Ballyvolane House by David McClelland.
Ballyvolane, County Cork, Ireland – The Place of the Springing Heifers

Ballyvolane is one of the most admired guest houses in Ireland. Built by a former Chief Justice of Ireland, past occupants of the County Cork mansion include a butler and a maid executed for murder and a nationalist politician who vanished without trace. Owned by the Green family since 1955, its recent guests have included Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. This history includes a piece I wrote for National Geographic Traveller.

Rita Hayworth. Illustration by Derry Dillon.
Clonsilla, County Dublin – Historical Tales

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.

Launching: 14 March 2022.
Turtle Bunbury's Global Irish

A podcast series exploring some of the more extraordinary Irish people who have found fame and infamy around the world in centuries past. 

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.      

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Queen of England and Ireland from 1558, last Tudor monarch. Version of the Armarda portrait attributed to George Gower c1588. (Photo by: Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images) (Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Queen of England and Ireland from
Thomas Bunbury (1542-1601)

Thomas Bunbury is the first of the family with a proven connection to Ireland, being trustee of Lismore Castle for his half-brother Sir William Stanley in 1585. Thomas was a son of Henry Bunbury, Lord de Bunbury, and his wife Margaret Aldersey. He  succeeded his father to Great Stanney in 1547. His wife Bridget Aston was the scion of a prominent Catholic family.

Mary Spring Rice (1880-1924)
Mary Spring Rice (1880-1924)

During her all too short life, Lord Monteagle's remarkable daughter sailed out with the Childers on Asgard on that extraordinarily audacious gun-run in 1914 and, during the War of Independence, she made her mark by offering indispensable first aid lessons to nurses tending to wounded IRA members.

Daniel Robertson, an American Architect in Ireland
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.

Drew of Scotland & Westmorland

[Work in progress] Above: A gathering at Dalmonach on the shores of Loch Lomond. The …

Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh, P.C., M.P. (1831-1889)
The Incredible Mr Kavanagh

The story of a remarkable Irishman, born without arms or legs, who became an explorer and member of parliament, as well as a huntsman, sailor, photographer and father of seven. 

Antony and Justin with Bertha.
Bertha’s Resurrection

A two-time Guinness World Record-holder – the oldest and the most prolific cow ever recorded – Bertha passed away just three months short of her 49th birthday, being more than twice the lifespan of your average cow. This legendary Droimeann cow from Sneem, Co. Kerry, has been immortalised by an award-winning Irish gin.

The Life & Death of Kevin Barry (1902-1920)
The Life & Death of Kevin Barry (1902-1920)

Kevin Barry’s short life was full of firsts. He was the first person executed since the Easter Rising of 1916 and, as such, the 18-year-old medical student was the first person to be executed in the War of Independence. This story looks at his upbringing between Dublin and County Carlow (where he was at school in Rathvilly), his work as a Volunteer, his fatal role in the Monk’s Bakery raid and the world-shocking events of his execution.

Lisnavagh - The War Horse
Lisnavagh – The War Horse

A remarkable hunter, bred at Lisnavagh, who competed at the International Horse Show in London before going off to the Western Front as the mount of Captain Eustace Mansfield.

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

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.

Athenry's stonemasons were busy in the wake of the Night of the Big Wind. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Athenry, County Galway – Historical Tales

The stories of a best-selling novelist, Governor of North Carolina, a terrifying hurricane, a giant cake, ‘The Fields of Athenry’ song and a woman who refused to eat. Extracted from Past Tracks. Irish translation included.

Roisin Folan. Photo: James Fennell.
Róisín (Folan) Ui Chualáin (1929-2022) – The Nurse of Inisheer Island

Everyone had a donkey,’ she says. ‘But there’s only two left on the island now.’ Born in 1929, the former District Nurse reflects on working as a midwife in Tottenham, London, and life in Lurgan village on Inisheer in the Aran Islands of County Galway.

Saint Brigid of Kildare
Saint Brigid of Kildare

In Ireland, St Brigit became known as “Muire na nGael” (Mary of the Irish), as venerable as the Blessed Virgin, mother of Christ, and second only to St Patrick in the hierarchy of patron saints. However, her story is infinitely more complex, embracing the deities of pre-Christian Ireland and the political machinations of the medieval church, as well as a certain amount of revamping in recent times.  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) – A Study in Green
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) – A Study in Green

‘I, an Irishman by extraction, was born in the Scottish capital after two separate lines of Irish wanderers came together under one roof’. So remarked the creator of Sherlock Holmes. His mother was Mary Foley from Lismore with strong roots in Kilkenny; his father Charles Doyle had paternal roots in Dublin and Wexford. One of Arthur's uncles was director of the National Gallery of Ireland and married into a Dublin a family by name of Sherlock …

The Palatines in Ireland
The Palatines in Ireland

In 1709, just over 3,000 mostly Protestant refugees from Germany's Palatine region sailed for Ireland. Their descendants include the families of Switzer, Wyse, Keppel, Cooke, Young , Embury, Miller, Baker, Poff and Gleasure. This article looks at the origins and impact of that Palatine emigration.

John McClintock, 1st BAron Rathdonnell
John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell (1798-1879)

John McClintock, who inherited Drumcar House, County Louth, in 1855, launched a series of mostly unsuccessful campaigns to represent County Louth at Westminster. He served just one term from 1857-9, but he caught the eye of Benjamin Disraeli and was created Baron Rathdonnell in 1868. This story follows his life and times, his links to the Bunbury family, and his marriage to Anne Lefroy.

A portrait of Din Lane by Shania McDonagh
Din Lane (1923 – Turf Dealer of Glin, County Limerick

‘It was hard work. We were on Joe White’s bog by eight o’clock every morning from the end of March. We often used to make our dinner with a fire out in the bog. If we were out of butter we’d go into Glin on our way, but we’d be there a half an hour before anyone else would get up!'

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.

Spike Island -  Australian Convicts & the Vagrancy Act
Spike Island – Australian Convicts & the Vagrancy Act

Between 1787 and 1868, over 30,000 Irish men and 9,000 Irish women were transported to the Australian colonies as convicts. The vast majority were held at Spoke Island before they departed for exile from Cobh, the County Cork seaport which had been renamed Queenstown in 1849. This article looks at the campaign to secure a posthumous pardon for those sentenced during the time of the Great Hunger.

Bunbury of Kilfeacle, co. Tipperary

MATTHEW BUNBURY (1675-1733) The Bunburys of Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary, descend from Mathew Bunbury (1675-1733), fourth …

Photo: James Fennell
Liza Mulvahill  (1915-2015) – Dairymaid & Cook of Moyavne, County Kerry

‘I got afraid seeing all the men and I ran. One of them put up the gun to shoot me. They thought I was running to tell the IRA they were coming. My mother was in a panic until another one said, “Stop, don’t shoot the child.”’

Photo: James Fennell.
Maurice Fitzgerald (1919-2012) – Farmer of Glin, County Limerick

‘I was a great boxer. A heavyweight. Oh yes, I was highly dangerous and the whole town knows it. I’m Maurice Fitzgerald. One of the Normans. Did you ever hear of them? I’m a tough man. My right arm is a ten-pound sledge. Did you ever get a belt from a sledge? And my left arm is a kick from a mule. Do you know what a mule is?’

Replica of an urn found on Ballon Hill.
Around Lisnavagh: Neolithic to the Bronze Age

As of January 2022, I have an inventory of (extant or vanished) 3 ring forts, 1 square fort, 1 standing stone, 1 dolmen, 1 monastery, 1 castle, 1 Bronze Age settlement, all located in a small stretch of land running from the summit of Knocknagan to the Haroldstown dolmen, drawing in a little bit of Tobinstown and the townland of Acaun  …. throw in an underground stream, the River Dereen and the mysterious shapes in Bowe's Grove, and the stage is set for yet more sleuthery. 

Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton's Island

A review of the National Geographic's episode of Ice Patrol entitled ‘Shackleton's Island' (2009) when a group of marines followed Shackleton's astonishing journey through the uncharted mountains of South Georgia Island.

Photo: James Fennell
Maisie Grannell (b. 1925) – The Seamstress of Enniscorthy, County Wexford

Maisie has endured considerable hardship in her life but by dint of her amazing determination and sheer work ethic, she has survived with her sense of humour intact. Politician, be warned. Maisie has a catapult and a bag of road chippings set aside for door-to-door canvassers. And she knows how to use them.

The Races of Castlebar. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Castlebar, County Mayo – Historical Tales

The stories of the inventor of the torpedo, a global prima donna, a telephone pioneer, the short-lived Republic of Connacht, the inglorious Races of Castlebar, the rise and fall of the Earls of Lucan, and a gentleman who went to the gallows. Extracted from Past Tracks, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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

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.

Laurel and Hardy in Cobh. Illustration by Derry Dillon.
Cobh – Historical Tales

A mercy mission from Boston, the bells that rang out for Laurel and Hardy, Sonia O'Sullivan and a remarkable Titanic survivor are among the cast on Turtle's panel in Cobh railway station, illustrated by Derry Dillon, translated by Jack O Driscoll.

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).
Arklow, County Wicklow – Historical Tales

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

Count John McCormack. Illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Athlone, County Westmeath – Historical Tales

The stories of a Victoria Cross winning drummer boy, a world heavyweight boxing champ, a deadly hurricane, the Earls of Athlone, Count John McCormack, and a brilliant bandmaster who performed at the inauguration of six US presidents. Extracted from Past Tracks. Irish translation included.

Dick Hooley of Ballina ran one of the most popular opera houses in America in the 1870s. From an Illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Ballina, County Mayo – Historical Tales

The stories of one of Ireland's most successful presidents, the origin of the town ‘Font', a pioneer of showbiz in Chicago, the engineering ancestors of Joe Biden, a leading opponent of slavery and a strike by schoolboys seeking an end to corporal punishment and Wednesday's off. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

George Brent of Ballinasloe (with Olivia de Havilland) was one of the great movie stars of his generation. From an illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Ballinasloe, County Galway – Historical Tales

The stories of the Earls of Clancarty (who liked UFOs, dancing girls and redrawing the map of Europe), as well as a prominent Australian photographer, a Hollywood star from the 1930s, the battle of Aughrim and one of Europe's oldest fairs. 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).
Booterstown, County Dublin – Historical Tales

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.

Reactions to the destruction of Carlow Castle. From an Illustration by Derry Dillon, extracted from Past Tracks (2021).
Carlow Town – Historical Snapshots

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.

Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) - A Hugely Successful Author
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) – A Hugely Successful Author

The story of the author of the critically acclaimed ‘Castle Rackrent’, a comic masterpiece, and her inventive father, and how Maria came to the aid of the people of Longford during the Great Hunger.

Richard Butler, Vicar of Trim and  Dean of Clonmacnoise, was described by contemporaries as ‘a handsome man with expressive eyes’.
Richard Butler (1794-1862), Vicar of Trim and  Dean of Clonmacnoise

Maria Edgeworth’s sister Harriet married my grandfather’s great-uncle Richard Butler, Rector of Trim and Dean of Clonmacnoise, Described as ‘a handsome man with expressive eyes’, he was born at Granard, County Longford, in 1794.

Bishopscourt
Kennedy of Johnstow and Bishopscourt, County Kildare

One of the most celebrated families of the Kildare hunting scene during the middle decades of the 20th century, the Kennedys were direct descendants of Sir John Kennedy, the Father of the Kildare Hunt. Indeed, for much of the 20th century, the area around Straffan was known as ‘Kennedy country’.

Bunbury of Russellstown and Bunbury Lodge, County Carlow
Bunbury of Russellstown and Bunbury Lodge, County Carlow

An unusual branch of the family, whose stars included Henry Bunbury (described by contemporary as ‘an agreeable oddity') and his son Thomas Charles Bunbury, who campaigned for Daniel O'Connell in the 1830s. 

Liely
A Historical Odyssey through Dublin’s Literary Pubs

The pub and the pen have always gone hand in hand, especially in Dublin. That’s why the city is so celebrated for its playwrights and poets and authors from Jonathan Swift to Oscar Wilde to Flann O'Brien to Sally Rooney. That's why Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature, with an annual Book Festival; why three of the bridges that span the Liffey are named for writers; why it offers one of the richest literary prizes in the world; and why Dublin was home to all four Irish-born winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This story explores the pub side of things.

The Sam Maguire Cup was modelled on the Ardagh Chalice and made by Hopkins and Hopkins. jewellers and silversmiths at 2 O'Connell Street, Dublin (now a bank). The brothers' family originally hailed from Tuckamine, about half way between Tullow to Rathvilly and Carlow to Hacketstown. They were also connected to Knocknagan by Lisnavagh, County Carlow.
Sam Maguire & Liam MacCarthy – For Whom the Cups are Named

MacCarthy and Maguire are household names on account of the All-Ireland cups for hurling and football which are named in their honour. But few know just how intricately both men were linked with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson in London and the meteoric rise of Michael Collins.

Aerial view of Lisnavagh, 2021.
William Bunbury (c. 1674-1710) of Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow

William was given the lease on Lisnavagh and Tobinstown by his father in 1695, the year before he married Elizabeth Pendred and commissioned the construction of the original house at Lisnavagh. This page provides some historical context on William's relatively short life, along with some speculations about the first house and its surrounding landscape.

John Barry, co-founder of the Continental Navy in the USA.
Commodore John Barry (1745-1803), Father of the American Navy

The Wexford man was the United States’ first commissioned naval officer, as well as its first flag officer. On his watch, the US Navy converted 40 acres of Brooklyn into one of the world's biggest shipyards. It stands next to the oldest park in Brooklyn, renamed Commodore Barry Park in his honour.

William Browne, photographed circa 1847.
William Browne – Father of the Argentine Navy

When Argentina launched its War of Independence against its Spanish overlords, William Brown of Foxford, County Mayo, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine fleet and powered his adopted country to victory.

Mick King (1924-2013) - Farmer of Lanmore
Mick King (1924-2013) – Farmer of Lanmore

‘I never bothered my head about marriage, but I tell you, when my father and mother were alive, you couldn’t go bringing a woman into an old house like this.' A charming bachelor farmer from County Mayo recalls his days working on the bogs of Allenwood, bringing potatos to Westport by horse and cart, and a school where ‘swallows flew in and out the broken windows’ and ‘you’d clap your hands every now and then to stay warm’.

Desmond Leslie, 1945
Desmond Leslie (1921-2001) – An Irish Gentleman

The man who punched Bernard Levin live on TV, in front of 11 million viewers, was also a brilliant Spitfire pilot during the Second World War. As well as his first marriage to the stage actress Agnes Bernelle, Desmond Leslie made his mark as a scriptwriter, music composer and, perhaps most famously, as a passionate advocate for the existence of flying saucers and alien life.

Photo: Bryan Meade
Interview with Turtle Bunbury, March 2020 – The Irish-American Post

Conducted by Martin Russell of the Irish-American Post, this appeared in March 2020, coinciding with the launch of ‘Ireland's Forgotten Past' and the arrival of a certain irksome virus …

The Whiteboy Insurrection in Macroom, 1822
The Whiteboy Insurrection in Macroom, 1822

An account of one of the most notorious agrarian secret societies to emerge in the Irish countryside in the Georgian age, who remerged during the war against tithes, arguably the most reviled tax of the early 19th century.

Richard Corrigan Papers – General Notes (County Carlow)
Richard Corrigan Papers – General Notes (County Carlow)

Miscellaneous pages connected to County Carlow, extracted from one of Richard Corrigan's books and transcribed as written by Maribeth Nolan in Nov/Dec 2012. Giltrap, Cope, Corrigan are among the names recorded, as well as the Parish Church in Kinneagh.

Blake Castle on Quay Lane, Galway, was  the property of Sir Valentine Blake of Menlo at the time of the 1651-2 siege.
Blake of Menlo Castle, County Galway & Meelick House, County Clare

Looking at one of the most celebrated of the 14 Tribes of Galway, whose properties included Menlo Castle and Meelick in Ireland, as well as Whitland Abbey in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The account considers all nineteen of the Blake baronets, Wild Geese and Wine Geese, as well as curious links to Cary Grant, Red Hugh O’Donnell’s assassin and Tony Blake, who was executed during the Korean War.  

Ballynatray House, near Youghal, was inextricably linked with Raleigh, who became owner of both Ballynatray and nearby Molana Abbey in 1587. The abbey was given to his friend, the brilliant mathematician Thomas Hariot while it was Robert Maule, one of Raleigh's two estate managers in Ireland, who most likely lived at Ballynatray in the late 16th century. When Raleigh's star waned and disgrace loomed, he sold his vast Irish estates directly to Richard Boyle, subsequently the Earl of Cork, for a token £1500. 
Smyth of Ballynatray

The Holroyd-Smyth family who lived at Ballynatray House near Youghal in County Waterford descend from a family named Smyth who were closely allied with Richard Boyle, the Great Earl of Cork. This story charts the family's journey from the Tudor age to the 1850s.

Charles Kickham
Charles Joseph Kickham (1828-1882)

A short account of the 19th century novelist and Fenian pioneer, famed for the poem ‘Slievenamon', who was born at his mother's family home in Mocklershill outside Cashel, County Tipperary, with some additional notes on his cousin, Michael Kickham, a priest who became the bane of the Catholic church in Australia during the 1880s.

Photo: James Fennell
Betty Scott (1923-2013) – The Inspiration for the Vanishing Ireland project

The story of Betty Scott, who started work at Lisnavagh as a parlourmaid in 1941 and was the housekeeper from 1959 throughout my young life until she retired in 2007. Without Betty's influence, the Vanishing Ireland project would never have happened.

Murder at Shandy Hall - The Coachford Posioning Case, 1887
Murder at Shandy Hall – The Coachford Posioning Case, 1887

The murder of Laura Cross of Shandy Hall was the talk of all Britain and Ireland when the story hit the press in the summer of 1887. Michael Sheridan's 2010 book reexamined the extraordinary circumstances which ultimately led to the execution of her husband, Dr. Philip Cross.

Deep-Sea Fishing in County Clare
Deep-Sea Fishing in County Clare

In 2009, a Swiss financier caught a bluntnose sixgill shark near Carriagaholt, County Clare. It was the largest yet fish caught by a rod and line in Irish or British waters. Turtle headed down a week later to see if he could do any better. He could not.

Brian Kennedy - The Rise of a Falls Road Boy
Brian Kennedy – The Rise of a Falls Road Boy

“I've never set out to be political in any sense but because of where I was born and how I grew up, that defined me immediately.’ We were never involved in anything other than the day-to-day thing of going to school and being shot at and all those kinds of mad things.” Turtle interviewed the Belfast born singer shortly before he competed at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.

Sir William Stanley - Hero, Traitor & Bunburying in Tudor Ireland
Sir William Stanley – Hero, Traitor & Bunburying in Tudor Ireland

The tale of a remarkable man, a Catholic in Queen Elizabeth's army, who was tipped to be Viceroy of Ireland until he allied himself with Catholic Spain and became intricately involved with the Babington Ploy, the Spanish Armada and the ill-fated Gunpowder Plot orchestrated by Guy Fawkes.

Dr Bartholomew Mosse – Founder of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin
Dr Bartholomew Mosse – Founder of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin

Dr Bartholomew Mosse was the founder of Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, the first purpose-built maternity hospital in the world, which opened in 1757. This highly motivated surgeon and man-midwife achieved his ambition through his immense gift for corporate fundraising: running lotteries, staging concerts and productions in the theatre, including a number of Handel's oratorios.

Kevin O'Higgins with WT Cosgrave behind him in 1923.
Chesterfield House, Booterstown, Co. Dublin

WILLIAMSTOWN Chesterfield House is located on Cross Avenue, midway between Booterstown and Blackrock. When the house was …

Johnny Golden, mechanic and sexton, of Doogarry, Co Cavan. Photo: James Fennell.
Johnny Golden (1937-2010) – The Gouldy

Raised in the Sunbeam Orphanage near Bray, Johnny Golden was a home-boy on a farm in County Leitrim by the 1950s. He later became sexton of the church in Killegar, and worked as a mechanic from his home in County Cavan. The Gouldy was murdered in 2010. This story formed the basis of the eulogy I read at his funeral.

The Clonmel Show (1865-2015)
The Clonmel Show (1865-2015)

The Clonmel Show has survived some of the darkest days in Irish history, through times of local agitation, national crisis, global conflict and Covid 19. This account was commissioned by the Clonmel Show Committee as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

Charles Bianconi
Charles Bianconi (1786-1875) – The Man who put Ireland on Wheels

‘Earn a shilling a day and live upon sixpence’. That was the motto of a remarkable entrepreneur from Italy whose energy, perseverance, punctuality and good humour made him the transport king of Ireland in the 1820s and 1830s. A friend of Daniel O’Connell, he became Mayor of Clonmel in 1845.

Ral
Sir Walter Raleigh in Ireland

Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the most one of the most enigmatic adventurers, soldiers, …

Werner von Siemens, c. 1847
Werner Siemens & the Gutta-Percha Tree

In the summer of 1847 the young German army engineer Werner Siemens secures a contract from the Prussian Army to lay a subterranean telegraph line insulated, at his suggestion, by sap from the Malaysian gutta-percha tree. By October the innovative genius has established a telegraph company in Berlin that will evolve into the present-day global telecommunications and engineering giant, Siemens AG.

Photo: James Fennell
Very Rev. Patrick Gill – The Parish Priest of Lecanvey

Born in 1927, the Very Rev. Patrick Gill muses upon a horrendous pogrom in 1795 that drove 7,000 Ulster Catholics to Connaught,  the impact of the Great Hunger on County Mayo and his own experiences administering a parish at the foot of Croagh Patrick.

Sister Rita, née Molly Cranny. Photo: James Fennell.
Sister Rita (1917-2013) & Sister Alphonsus (1920-2015)

‘It was a very sheltered life, and it wasn’t always easy. But that was the way it was. You did whatever you had to do and there was plenty to be done’. Two Sisters of Mercy in Athy, County Kildare, look back over the nine decades since their childhood, and explain how they fetched up in the order.

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

Reviews of '1847 - A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery' by Turtle Bunbury
Reviews of ‘1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery' by Turtle Bunbury

“1847” is, for me, the best thing Turtle has done so far. It is vivid, surprising, hugely entertaining; an unforgettable encounter with an extraordinary year.' Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson and others weigh in on Turtle's 2016 book ….

Search by County, Historical Era or Category
Search by County, Historical Era or Category

Search the History Quarter by County, by Historical Era or by Category.

Harry Kernoff's celebrated painting A Bird Never Flew On One Wing. Two auld fellows raise a pint. In the background is the name of every pub in Dublin they frequent. The second pint is always justified by the reasoning that a bird never flying on one wing.
The Irish Pub – Media Coverage & General Applause

‘Delightful' says The Irish Times. ‘Fascinating' concurred the Independent-on-Sunday. ‘A brilliant history of the Irish pub' declared Country Life. ‘A masterpiece of pub porn' said the Sunday Independent. Turtle's 2008 book ‘The Irish Pub' – his third with photographer James Fennell – gathered plenty of the plaudits following its publication. It was selected as Bookseller's Choice for Christmas by Hughes and Hughes and short-listed in The Irish Times Christmas Gift Special. The sumptuous hardback sold over 5,000 copies in its first 3 months.

Bill Rathdonnell and his fellow B-Squadron Officers of the Hussars on a Humber scout car
in Germany. L-R: Lieutenant S.R.M. Frazer, Captain Sutherland, Lieutenant R.F. (?),
Captain the Earl of Harrington, Major the Lord Rathdonnell, MC (puffing a pipe at the back) and Captain Weatherby, MC.
An Interview with Bill Harrington, 2005

William Henry Leicester Stanhope, 11th Earl of Harrington (1922-2009) was second-in-command to my grandfather, Major the Lord Rathdonnell, aka Bill Rathdonnell, during the Second World War. They served with the 15 / 19 Hussars in northern Europe in the wake of the Battle of the Bulge. In October 2005, I took a train to Limerick and interviewed him about his wartime experience.

The late 19th-century bar in The Long Hall runs down the right side of the room. Miscellaneous chandeliers hang from a ceiling the colour of beetroot soup, each set into its own unique rose.
The Long Hall – 51 George’s Street, Dublin 2

The Long Hall is the sort of place Brunel would have created if he’d taken to pub design. Reminiscent of a mid-Victorian train station, it came in at No. 2 on a list of the most popular pubs in Dublin published by Tripadvisor in February 2022. Up until 1951, the bar was men only but women sitting in this hallway were served through hatches. One regular was notorious Dublin bad boy Brendan Behan whose father worked across the road in Dockrells.