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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.

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.

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. 

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 …

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.

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.

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.

Adare Manor, South East View, by J. R. Jobbins, 1812.
Introduction to Adare Manor: Renaissance of an Irish Country House

An overview of the contents of ‘Adare Manor – The Renaissance of an Irish Country Manor,' the first of Turtle's two books with Adare Manor, voted No. 1 resort in the world by Condé Nast Traveler in 2022.

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

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

Above: Above: A drawing of the new house at Lisnavagh which Redmond Kane's
son-in-law William Bunbury was planning to build when thrown from
his horse and killed in 1778.
William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh (1744-1778)

William was the great-grandson of the first Bunbury to settle in Ireland. He married the heiress  Katherine Kane, shortly before he was elected MP for Carlow in Grattan's Parliament. He was planning to build a new house at Lisnavagh when he was tragically killed in a horse accident in 1778. After his death, his widow took the family to live in Bath until their eldest son, Thomas, was old enough to return. William's posthumous daughter Jane would produce the future heir of Lisnavagh …

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

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

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.

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 .

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. 

John 'Bumper Jack' McClintock of Drumcar was chief serjeant-at-arms in the Irish House of Commons during the 1790s. He was grandfather of the first Lord Rathdonnell.
‘Bumper Jack’ – John McClintock (1743-1799)

The builder of Drumcar House, John McClintock was one of the most prominent MPs during the age of Grattan’s Parliament, serving as MP for Belturbet and Enniskillen between 1783 and 1797. He was also Chief Serjeant of Arms to the Irish Parliament (when his wife’s cousin John Foster was Speaker of the Irish House of Commons) and Treasurer of the Northern Rangers. This story also takes in the remarkable tale of John Suttoe, a black man who worked for the McClintocks and married Margaret O’Brien from County Louth.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photochrom of the Chester Rows as seen from Chester Cross, 1895
Henry Bunbury (1509–1547) of Great Stanny, Lord de Bunbury

Henry succeeded his father in 1540, the year Thomas Cromwell fell from power. His wife Margaret was the sole heiress of Hugh Aldersey, a prosperous merchant who served as Mayor of Chester in 1528, 1541 and 1546.

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

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

Grafton Street in 1956.
Grafton Street, Dublin City

Grafton Street, Ireland's main shopping boulevard, started life as a small, medieval cattle track that wound alongside the east bank of the Stein, the river that now flows underground between St Stephen’s Green and Trinity College. This account tells the tale of five Georgian houses running from 96-100 Grafton Street, as well as the Turkish Baths and 5 Grafton Street, and who their occupants were, including Weir's and the company that inspired Bono's name.

Wicklow Street, Dublin
Wicklow Street, Dublin

For over five hundred years, Wicklow Street was part of a much longer thoroughfare known as Exchequer Street, named for the Exchequer built by the Anglo-Normans in the late twelfth century.

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.'

H.W. Bunbury. A soldier leaving tavern is confronted by an officer.
Bunbury Baronets in England (1618-1733)

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

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.

Lucia Joyce
Lucia Joyce (1907-1982) – Portrait of a Troubled Daughter

The tragic tale of the deeply-troubled daughter of James Joyce, Ireland’s most famous writer, and her unrequited love for Samuel Beckett.

Detail from statue of James Whiteside by Albert Bruce-Joy in St Patrick's Cathedral
James Whiteside (1804-1876) – Lord Chief Justice of Ireland

James Whiteside was born on 12 August 1804 at Delgany in the north Wicklow Mountains, …

Michael Hayes (1767-1825) - Rebel, Convict, Merchant, Bigamist?
Michael Hayes (1767-1825) – Rebel, Convict, Merchant, Bigamist?

The story of a man transported to Australia for his role in the United Irishmen …

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.  

Germaines, as featured in The Irish Builder, 4 June 1903. With thanks to Mairtin D'Alton.
Germaine of Lisnavagh & Tobinstown

During the 18th and 19th century, some of the lands at Lisnavagh and Tobinstown in County Carlow were rented by the Germaines, a family of Huguenot extraction who are said to have built several houses on the land. A rather unsettling story claims that, following the Tithe Wars, Philip Germaine was evicted and his property razed to make way for the new house at Lisnavagh … could this be so?

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.

Detail from a mural in Belfast depicting a hedge school. (extramuralactivity)
Denny's Turn, Lisnavagh, County Carlow

The sharp bend in the road at the foot of Kinsellagh’s Hill seems to have been named for Denis Delany, the master of a hedge school at Acaun in the nineteenth century.

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.

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.

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

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

Thurland Castle, where North North and his family lived in 1881, is said to have inspired Charlotte Bronte to write the opening scenes of 'Jane Eyre', first published in 1847.
The Versturme-Bunbury Family

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

"The Major"   -    Hugh Caruthers Massy (1914-1987)
“The Major” – Hugh Caruthers Massy (1914-1987)

An account of my father's stepfather Major Hugh Caruthers Massy, from orphaned childhood to Prisoner of War, from Gaza to Kenya to Ballynatray, with musings upon his family background and his lovely sister Narcissa.

Illustrated depiction of Clarion County oil fields in Pennsylvania from 1877.
A History of the O’Leary and the Cavanaugh Families – From Kerry to Houston via Oil City

This epic story homes in on the descendants of Pat O’Leary, who emigrated to North America from Ireland at the height of the Great Famine. Following his marriage to fellow Kerry emigrant Catherine Maloney, he worked on the railroads of New York and Toronto. The O’Leary’s and their seven children then journeyed south to Pennsylvania where the oil industry was underway. Pat's grandson George O'Leary became one of the most influential figures in Houston, Texas. Also told are the back stories of the Maloneys of Knockalougha, County Kerry, and the Cavanaughs of County Leitrim. 

The poster for the 2013 History Festival of Ireland at Duckett's Grove by the eminent Derry Dillon.
The History Festival of Ireland 2012-2014

Turtle co-founded the History Festival of Ireland in 2012, and curated the event in 2012 and 2013, arranging for upwards of 70 leading historians, writers, playwrights and thinkers from Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA to contribute to two highly regarded weekends. The event was subsumed into the annual Festival of Writing and Ideas at Borris House, County Carlow, at which Turtle is a regular speaker. 

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

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

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.

Sir William Gregory
Sir William Gregory (1817-1892) – Governor of Ceylon

Considered one of the finest governors of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the island's history, Sir William's legacy is complicated by the appalling treatment of Tamil labourers, as well as the Gregory Clause in Ireland during the Great Hunger. His wife was the famous Lady Gregory.

The Ballybit Pot.
Ballybit, County Carlow

A brief look at the townlands just west of Lisnavagh and their association with families such as Gilpin, Gorman, Elliot, Lowry, Kehoe, Bryan, Carroll, Leary, and Murphy, as well as Viscount Allen, John Drought and the Bunburys, plus the discovery of the Ballybit Pot in 1861. 

The Vale of Avoca, c. 1897
The Vale of Avoca

Thoughts on a photochrom photo of the County Wicklow valley, taken by the Detroit Publishing Company in the late 1890s.

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.

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.

Le Famille in Languedoc.
Love Home Swap in Languedoc, 2002

In the hot summer of 2022, the Bunbury famille headed off to Languedoc for a week, where we enjoyed bright blue swimming pools, megalithic wine, a boat tour on the Canal due Midi, a stroll on the walls of Carcassonne and a sole-burning trip to Aqualand. Our lovely home for the week came via

Photo: James Fennell.
Ruby Walsh, Champion Jockey – King of Cheltenham

With 58 wins at Cheltenham, Ruby Walsh is comfortably the most successful jockey in the Festival’s history.  He was also Irish jump jockey champion twelve times between 1998 and 2017 and, when he retired in 2019, he was the third most prolific winner in British and Irish jump racing history. This interview took place in Thurles in 2010.

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.

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.

Conor O'Dwyer. Photo: James Fennell.
Conor O'Dwyer, National Hunt Jockey & Trainer – Imperial Call

Winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is every jockey’s dream. Conor did it twice. His 1996 victory on Imperial Call was a staggering performance. Ten years later, he made St. Patrick’s Day his own when he won the Gold Cup for a second time on the Michael O’Leary owned War of Attrition. This interview took place in 2011.

Charlie Swan. Photo: James Fennell.
Charlie Swan – A Racing Icon

An interview with one of the finest jump jockeys of the late 20th century, famed for his partnership with Istabraq – arguably the best two mile hurdler of modern times – on whom he won the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle three years in a row

Paddy Mullins. Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Mullins (1919-2010) – The Quiet Man of Racing

On Paddy's watch, the Doninga Stables in Goresbridge, Co. Kilkenny, was the biggest National Hunt yard in Ireland, and Paddy was the country’s most successful National Hunt trainer.

Willie Mullins, 2010. Photo: James Fennell.
Willie Mullins – Commander of the Turf

An interview with the Cheltenham Festival’s most successful trainer of all-time, a man who racked up 88 wins by 2022. Young Willie was in the saddle from the age he could toddle. In his boyhood, he read as much as he could about the industry, particularly focusing on the methods and problem-solving tactics of other trainers.

Jessie Harrington. Photo: James Fennell.
Jessie Harrington – Queen of the Turf

An interview with Ireland's most successful female Jessie Harrington was named The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2017 after a remarkable year in which she trained Sizing John to win the Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups, won the Irish National with Our Duke, and enjoyed her best ever year on the Flat. This interview took place in 2011.

The stand alone bathtub was designed by Philippe Starck. Photo: Barry Murphy.
The Morgan Hotel, Dublin

A record of the refurbishment of the Morgan in Temple Bar, orchestrated by Paul Fitzpatrick, who owned the hotel from 2001 until 2016.

Photo: James Fennell.
Cape Cod & Pine Woods – A Home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire

The Thoron family have been well established in this affluent part of New Hampshire for well over a century. Her house, built in the early Cape Cod style, can trace its origins back to Robert Harkness, a wealthy Irish Protestant businessman, who constructed the building in about 1780.

Bela Lugosi's Dracula carries Mina (Helen Chandler) off to a breakfast of sorts in the 1931 film.
Ireland – Birthplace of Vampires

The vampire cult owes an enormous amount to Irish writers such as Bram Stoker (Dracula), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla) and Thomas Crofton Croker, not to mention Abhartach, a psychotic dwarf chieftain from Donegal.

Photo: James Fennell.
Loughcrew House, Co. Meath – Gilded Magnificence

An appraisal of the restorative work and reconstruction by Emily Naper, one of Ireland's foremost gilding authorities, and a descendent of Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the original Hell Fire Club.

Surveying the clash of two mighty oceans, this South African home takes inspiration from nature at its most elemental. Photo: James Fennell.
Studio Wanita – Simon's Town, South Africa

Surveying the clash of two mighty oceans, this South African home takes inspiration from nature at its most elemental.

Photo: James Fennell.
Deirdre Mongey – Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland

When designer Deirdre Mongey moved with her family from Dublin city to the Irish countryside, …

The Sea Lodge. Photo: James Fennell.
The Sea Lodge, County Louth, Ireland

It is the sound of the sea and the winds upon it that so entranced Alicia Chawner when she first found her house near Dunany Point on the south coast of Dundalk Bay. Now she is hooked, as defined by her location as the sea kale on the rocky shores or the winkles on the strand.

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.

The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin.
Thomas Burgh (1670-1730) – Engineer Extraordinaire

One of the greatest Irish military engineers of all time, who rose to become Surveyor General of Ireland, his legacies include Collins Barracks, the Old Library at Trinity College, the Linen Hall, the Kilmainham Infirmary and Dr. Steeven's Hospital, as well as his family home, Oldtown, near Naas, County Kildare.

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner. The German composer was a supporter of Mosse's project.
The Premiere of Handel's Messiah – Dublin, 1742

In 1742, over 700 people crowded into the Great Musick Hall in Dublin to hear Handel lead the performance of his choral masterpiece. In view of the numbers, ladies were requested to come “without hoops,” and gentlemen without swords. Critics were unanimous – this was “the finest Composition of Musick that ever was heard.”

George Plant
George Plant (1904-1942) – IRA Executioner

The story of a ruthless IRA assassin of Protestant stock, a man who knew too much about government affairs in the 1930s and early 1940s, and how he was effectively set up for the firing squad.

George Moore: The Man Behind Alfred Nobbs
George Moore: The Man Behind Alfred Nobbs

The film ‘Albert Nobbs' is based on a story, first published in 1918, by the Irish author George Moore. In 1912, he abandoned Ireland in pursuit of unrequited love in London with one of the richest women in the world. An early critic of the dictatorial behaviour of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Moore was also one of the first writers to seriously address equal rights for women.

A sketch of the Very Rev. Hugh Usher Tighe, D.D., Dean of Derry and Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, from H. S. McClintock's scrapbook.
The Journal of Rev. Hugh Usher Tighe & his wife Nanny McClintock (October 1827 – April 1831)

The diary of a future Dean of Derry, Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, and Rector of Clonmore, Co. Louth, (and husband to Nanny McClintock), gallantly transcribed by Audrey Arthure in 2021.

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 … 

HMS Procris, upon which William McClintock Bunbury served as first lieutenant in 1828 under Charles Paget. Painted by Mathieu-Antoine Roux while Procris stopped in Marseilles.
HMS Procris – Lieutenant Bunbury McClintock's Journal of 1829-1830

The transcript of a private journal kept by Lieutenant William McClintock Bunbury (1800-1866), the man who later built Lisnavagh House, when he sailed on the sloop Procris, under Captain Paget. During this time, he voyaged from County Cork in Ireland deep into the Mediterranean, visiting the islands and coasts of Italy, Greece and Turkey, as well as Corfu, Malta, Sardinia &c.

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.

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.

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.

Mrs Desiree Shortt. Photo: James Fennell.
Desiree Shortt of Mahaffy House, Dublin City – Restored Home of Oscar Wilde's Tutor

In 1973, Mrs Shortt sat up in her bed and decided to buy a dilapidated redbrick 22-room townhouse on Dublin's north side that once belonged to Oscar Wilde's tutor, Sir John Mahaffy. “I was mad, of course. Everyone said it. I knew it. I slept in the back boiler room for the first seventeen years”.

African mosaic in the bathroom. Photo: James Fennell.
Pamushana Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe – As Good as it Gets

In 1996, Durban-based architect Bruce Stafford disembarked from his 4WD and set up a small tent beneath …

Soo Piercey relaxing in her garden.
Soo Piercey's Tannery, Zimbabwe – Awaiting the Inevitable

An adventurous artist, whose life sounds very Wilbur Smith, Soo Piercey bought a Zimbabwean tannery for storing elephant hides and leopard skins. It became home to her collections – including the craft of over twenty African tribes, as well as her own extraordinary works, painted over the course of her extensive wanderings.

Photo: James Fennell.
Mexican Wave – Andrea Cali's Cuernavaca Home in Mexico

The eclectic and inspirational Mexican home of best-selling author and astrologist Andrea Valeria.

Photo: James Fennell.
Tritonville Road, Dublin – A Gutsy Renovation

When it comes to renovation, sometimes the only answer is to remove everything and start from scratch. That’s precisely what fashion designer Laura Bradshaw and solicitor Joe Stanley did after they purchased this Sandymount property in 1994.

Photo: James Fennell.
Mikhail Treštík – Cubist Ceramic Collection in Prague

Hidden behind an elegant facade in a Prague suburb lies one of the finest collections of Cubist ceramics, owned by writer, art critic and all-round Renaissance man Mikhail Treštík.

Helnwein. Photo: James Fennell.
Helnwein's Castle, County Tipperary, Ireland – The Austrian Firestarter

Ireland got its first real glimpse into the mind of Gottfried Helnwein in 2002 when he headlined the Kilkenny Arts Festival. Across the medieval city, familiar landmarks were draped in gigantic posters such as “Epiphany”, depicting a voluptuous mother proudly displaying her naked young boy to a gathering of sharp-dressed officers. It is only when one registers the swastikas and iron crosses on the officer's uniforms that one looks again at this toddler and beholds the unmistakable visage of Adolf Hitler …

Evelyn Kelly Lambert (1907-2004). Photo: James Fennell. You can find James's photos of Casa Leon here.
Evelyn Kelly Lambert (1907-2004) – The American Widow who Conquered Europe

In 2001, I was lucky enough to spend a week as a guest of this 93-year-old grande dame, collector, philanthropist 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.

Angus Craigie has been home-brewing since he was a teenager.
Temple Bar – The Heart of Dublin City

Temple Bar has long been one of Dublin’s most popular visitor destinations, the city’s answer …

Nude by Tarquin Landseer
Tarquin Landseer – To the Canvas Born

Landseer seems happily aware that there was absolutely nothing he could have done to have avoided heading into the broad vale of the modern artist. He was genetically doomed, a child destined for imaginational explosions from the very outset. 

Helga's Folly - Jungle Style in Sri Lanka
Helga's Folly – Jungle Style in Sri Lanka

In the visitor's book, everyone searches for an adequate description. “Where Alice in Wonderland met the Marquis de Sade” is one. “Soft pornography” suggests another. Carl Muller was perhaps closest when he wrote: “Truly, the gods of music, art and drama have created the impossible”.

John William Seoige. Photo: James Fennell.
John William Seoighe (1919-2015) – The Oarsman of Connemara

An interview with one of the greatest oarsmen of currachs and Galway hookers to emerge in the 20th century, as well as his remarkable Connemara background and expeditions to Huddersfield and Jersey.

The Church of Santa Prisca in the city of Taxco de Alarcón, in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico, was built between 1751 and 1758.
Mexico: The Silver City of Taxco

A visit to the enigmatic, hill-side Mexican town which has been the hub of silver-ware not once but twice in the last 300 years.

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.

Kilkenny City - Cool for Cats
Kilkenny City – Cool for Cats

Once the medieval capital of all Ireland, Kilkenny has today firmly established itself as the nations' liveliest inland city, with non-stop entertainment throughout the sunny season and plenty enough craic on the other 365 days too.

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.”

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

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

Ballyhacket, County Carlow & the Ridelesford Connection
Ballyhacket, County Carlow & the Ridelesford Connection

 Looking at the townlands connections to Sir Walter de Ridelesford (or Riddlesford), Lord of Bray, as well as the Knights Templar, the Fratres Cruciferi of Castledermot and the displacement of the Mac Gormáin or O’Gorman family.

'Ireland’s greatest export was always its people. Some fled famine, violence, or poverty. Others sought love, adventure, or fortune. And Turtle Bunbury’s “The Irish Diaspora: Tales of Emigration, Exile and Imperialism” pays them tribute.' Jacqueline Cutler  published this account in the New York Daily News on 2 April 2021.
The Irish Diaspora – Global Reviews

I was utterly elated by the first review of ‘The Irish Diaspora’, from BBC History Magazine (April 2021), the UK’s biggest selling history magazine. ‘This fascinating assortment of case histories, spread across 1,400 years and six continents, is an impressive feat of research … The summaries of often-complex historical background to the lives explored are models of lucid compression.' Other reviews can also be found on this page.

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.

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.

Rory Kilduff (1922-2016) - The Saddler of Ballinasloe, County Galway
Rory Kilduff (1922-2016) – The Saddler of Ballinasloe, County Galway

‘Those stories I told you are true,’ says Rory Kilduff, ‘but I could make up a few if you’re stuck. The story of a saddlery business that commenced in Ballinasloe, County Galway, in the 1880s, from the Vanishing Ireland archives.

Photo: James Fennell
Liam O’Shea (1927-2012) – The Blacksmith of Lauragh Forge

The blacksmith of the Lauragh Forge, Killarney, Co Kerry,  on his father’s experiences in Manhattan and the days when the forge was the hub of the community.  ‘There were no cars in that time. Everybody walked … There’s no stopping now. They’re all in cars.’

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).

JJ recounts a tale of his father returning home from Moate with a crystal radio set under his arm on the eve of the 1932 Eucharsitic Congree. With an aerial hanging off the clothesline and an earth plugged into the ground, his father was able to tune into Count John McCormack singing the Pan Angelicus ‘the very same as if he was on a telephone.’ By JJ’s time, they had progressed to a Pye, a wet and dry battery radio which they charged up in Moate; young JJ never missed listening in to the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake Draw. Photo: James Fennell.
JJ Hackett (1937-2017) – Poet & Harness Maker – Ballinakill, Moate, County Westmeath

Born with disjointed hips, things did not get any easier for JJ when a tree fell upon him at the age of twelve, breaking his collar-bone, cranium and right knee. And yet, having spent two years recuperating and unable to walk, he went on to cycle hundreds of miles all over Ireland. His story is an extraordinary one, made all the more so by the fact that he then learned how to upholster and make harnesses by working alongside three men who could neither speak nor hear.

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.

‘The Gallery looks like a Cathedral … I do not know how we shall ever fill it.’ 2nd Earl of Dunraven, 1848. From a drawing by J. R. Jobbins. Inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, the Gallery was the setting for innumerable dinner parties, dances, concerts and hunt balls hosted by the Dunravens during the 19th and 20th centuries. This fabulous space now serves as the primary room for guests to enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea beneath the stained glass windows and antique tapestries.
Chapter 2: The Creation of Adare Manor

The building of Adare Manor by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven and his wife, Lady Caroline, was one of the biggest projects of its kind ever undertaken in Ireland.  Completed over 30 years, it was built in an architectural style that was inspired by the Gothic Revival and the Tudor Revival. This chapter also looks at such epic rooms as the Great Hall and the Gallery.

Murder of a Wife, the death of Molly Bunbury.
Bunbury of Lisbryan, Spiddal, Woodville … and Borneo

This branch of the main Lisnavagh family initially settled between County Tipperary and Connemara. Descendants include a man who held the world record for shorthand writing, the Borneo settler for whom the Bunbury Shoals are named and the unfortunate Molly Bunbury who was murdered by her doctor husband in 1886.

Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe 2000 – Another Annus Horibilis

It's difficult to know when the Stobarts will fully comprehend that they've left Zimbabwe for good. Diesel shortages, they could handle. Mugabe splashing out a million US every day to keep 11,000 soldiers fighting a mysterious war in the Congo basin, they could just about hack. Mugabe himself winning ZIM£100,000 in a national lottery was plain cheeky. The country going bankrupt … that was tougher.

Dún Aonghasa rocks, 2022.
Inis Mór (Inishmore) Island

Inis Mor is the biggest of the three Aran islands, which roll out from the west coast of Ireland, like “a necklace of pearls which God has set upon the bosom of the sea”, as one dreamy monk put it. This was the inspiration for Craggy Island, with its own Tedfest, but it also had a rich and wonderful history.

Photo: James Fennell
Liza Mulvihill  (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.”’

Mouse by Helnwein
Gottfried Helnwein – Head Above the Cuckoo's Nest (2000)

Extracts from this interview were used for features in Irish Tatler and The Dubliner. See …

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

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.

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.

Sopron street scene.
Hungary: Twitching Behind the Iron Curtain

The West Hungarian province of Pannonia is not traditionally the sort of place Irish people go for their holidays, but with the world's biggest thermal lake, first-rate masseurs, the eminent dentists of Sopron and splendid homegrown wines, it's not an area to be ignored.

Charles Spencer Cowper

by Alfred, Count D'Orsay
pencil, chalk and stump, 1845
The Hon. Charles Spencer Cowper (1816-1879)

Exploring his connections to two Prime Ministers – Lords Melbourne and Palmerston – and to Classiebawn, County Sligo, the home of Earl Mountbatten at the time of the latter's killing in 1979.

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.

The outline of a sword on the stone at Castlemore.
Castlemore, County Carlow – A Vanished Town, a Solitary Motte

One of the most influential early Cambro-Normans was Raymond Le Gros, a nephew of Maurice …

Knox D'Arcy, Oil Tycoon.
William Knox D’Arcy (1849-1917) – The Irish Oil Tycoon

Knox D’Arcy was one of Australia’s greatest entrepreneurs. The only son of an Irish-born solicitor, he is regarded as the founding father of the oil and petrochemical industry in Iran. His company, Anglo-Persian Oil, was the forerunner of British Petroleum. He already owned a mountain in Australia that was stuffed with gold. His life was an epic in itself, an extraordinary rollercoaster ride of soaring fortunes and bitter disappointments.

Thomas Bunbury circa 1861.
Major Thomas Bunbury (1791-1861) & the Treaty of Waitangi – Envoy Extraordinary

A remarkable army officers who made a particular impact in New Zealand, where he persuaded 27 Māori chiefs to sign the Treaty of Waitangi and proclaimed British sovereignty over Stewart Island and South Island. Regarded as St. Helier's first farmer and Auckland's first military commander, he was also Commandant of the Norfolk Island penal colony.

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.

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.

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. 

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 a leading light 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. 

The Earl of Ely's Arch, visible from Dodder Park Road, Dublin, by Kieran Swords,
(South Dublin Libraries)
How Ireland's MPs voted in the Act of Union in 1799 & 1800

Sir Jonah Barrington's list of which members voted for and against the Union in 1799 and 1800, and what induced them to change their minds.

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 …

Kitty Kiernan – Michael Collins’ Fiancée
Kitty Kiernan – Michael Collins’ Fiancée

A short account of the love that bloomed between Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, including an extract from the last letter she wrote to him before he was shot dead on 22 August 1922.

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

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

Viscount Gough's statue by the Dublin-born sculptor John Henry Foley and his assistant Thomas  Brock. It was was badly damaged by a Republican bomber in the 1950s. It is presently held at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. Would it have survived the 2020 purge of public statues?
Hugh Gough – Of Opium Wars & the Punjabi Sikhs

Hugh Gough commanded in more battles than any other British soldier of the nineteenth century save for his fellow Irishman, the Duke of Wellington. This included his victories in the Opium War and the Anglo-Sikh Wars. His mother was a Bunbury.

Auburn House. Photo: Barry Murphy.
Auburn House, Malahide, Co Dublin, Ireland

One of the finest residences in Malahide is Auburn House, a golden-brown three-storey mansion located within a wooded demesne adjacent to Malahide Castle. In the early 2000s, its owners – aviation pioneer Ulick McEvaddy and his wife Mary – renovated the property with the help of John Deaton of Deaton Lysaght Architects.

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.

Lough Rynn by Studio 77.
Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill, Co. Leitrim

A lakeside Victorian castle in County Leitrim with a colourful past is enjoying a new lease of life as the contemporary hotel. Built in the 1830s for the Earls of Leitrim, the present owners recruited the Cotton Box Design Group to revamp the Gothic building, which now extends deep into the old stable wing.

A mural by the Dutch artist Jan Adam Hartman. Photo: James Fennell.
Libertas – 18th Century Murals in South Africa

Located in the vineyard belt outside the historical university town of Stellenbosch, South Africa, this celebrated “Cape Dutch” farmhouse dates back to 1699. Restored in the late 20th century, it is home to a fabulous collection of 18th century murals by the Dutch artist Jan Adam Hartman.

Photo: James Fennell.
Casa Leof, Mexico – A Pre-Columban Sculpture Fantasia

Built upon a fascinating history, Nadine Vinot-Postry's home at Casa Leof was originally a trading station for merchants heading along the Camino Royale from Acapulco during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Photo: James Fennell.
Majada del Lentiscus – The Melians of Sotogrande, Spain

An enterprising Filipino family find El Dorado along the Mediterranean's sweeping coast. Built in 1966, their home has an old colonial feel with high ceilings, myriad windows and a collection of rare Ming pottery.

Photo: James Fennell.
Casa Alba – The Spanish Home of Candida Taylor

A private haven in Sotogrande SA, the 4000-acre golfing resort on the south coast of Andalusia.

Photo: James Fennell.
Casa Ken Scott, Cuernavaca, Mexico – A House of Fabric

The late Milan-based designer Ken Scott made one of his greatest creations amid the magnificence of Mexico.

Photo: James Fennell.
Berkeley Forest, County Waterford, Ireland – Playing the Dane

In 1957, a charming Danish Count and his young Limerick-born wife took on a dark Georgian house and added a whole lot of colour. The house is also home to the Costume & Toy Museum.

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 .

Mick Gallagher. Photo: James Fennell.
Mick Gallagher (1932-2022), Farm Labourer – Collooney, County Sligo

‘When he wasn’t thatching, my uncle was making crill baskets for the donkeys to carry the turf in from the bogs. It was all donkeys at that time. There were droves of them on the mountains.’ A much loved resident of Ox mountain, County Sligo, recalls a life of hunting rabbits, open-top tractors and working with the O'Hara family.

Siyalima Staircase. Photo: James Fennell.
Siyalima – Amid the Mavuradonna Wilderness of Zimbabwe in 2000 AD

Mike McGrath treats architecture like a cryptic crossword and cannot rest until he has sorted it out. His impulsive nature is strongly reflected in the creation of his own home, Siyalima, which he built in 1993. 

A fascinating map coloured to show how people voted on the Home Rule question in 1886. The areas in green were in favour. It would be another 35 years before the Irish Free State was born; the six counties of Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom.
Map showing how Britain and Ireland voted over Irish Home Rule in 1886

A fascinating map coloured to show how people voted on the Home Rule question in 1886. The ares in green were in favour. It would be another 35 years before the Irish Free State was born; the six counties of Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom. 

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!”

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’. 

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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.

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: 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 …

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.

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.

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.

'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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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