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This extensive archive offers hundreds of historical articles on (mostly Irish) families, houses, companies and events, including content from Turtle Bunbury’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.

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

Following his seizure of the High Kingship of Ireland in 1120, Turlough O’Connor, King of Connacht, and the O’Duffy’s, attempted to establish Tuam, County Galway, as a new political and spiritual capital. As part of the project, a new priory-hospital was dedicated to St John the Baptist. This became the centre of a cult that brought bonfires and holy wells to all parts of Ireland but its story became blurred when it was confused with a later order that became known as the Fratres Cruciferi.

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.

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

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

Close up of dog-fight by Derry Dillon, from the Boyle 'Past Tracks' panel.
The Irish Air Aces – Mick Mannock, Jimmy McCudden & George ‘McIrish’ McElroy

The top three Allied air aces in World War One were Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock, James McCudden and George ‘McIrish’ McElroy. All three were destined to die in the war. A rather lesser known fact is that all three had strong Irish connections. Mannock was born in Ireland to a mother from Cork. McCudden’s father was born in Carlow and McElroy was the son of a Roscommon schoolteacher.

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.

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 …

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.

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.

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, Teskey, Baker, Poff and Gleasure. This article looks at the origins and impact of that Palatine emigration.

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

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

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.

The lavabo at Mellifont Abbey (c1200) where the monks washed their hands before meal, pictured in November 2022.
The Cistercian Order in Ireland

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

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Antony and Justin with Bertha.
Bertha’s Resurrection

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

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.

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

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

The Irish Diaspora
The Irish Diaspora – Tales of Emigration, Exile & Imperialism

I was utterly elated by the first review of my 2021 book, ‘The Irish Diaspora,’ from BBC History Magazine, 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.' Here's some further detail.

Hugh Stirling MacKenzie, right, commander of the submarine Thrasher.
Mackenzie of Druim, Inverness

Looking at the lives of the Rev Hur Libertas MacKenzie, a Scots missionary who was in China from 1860-1899; his son Theodore, who was in charge of the Inverness District Asylum, and grandsons, including Admiral Hugh Stirling MacKenzie, commander of the Polaris submarine. 

Elizabeth in pearls.
Reflections on Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

The author of ten novels and over 100 short stories, Elizabeth Bowen was one of the most remarkable writers of her generation. She was also my grandmother's first cousin and, arguably, best friend. I once found her CBE in my sock drawer and my mother inherited her typewriter. This is an account of her life, and her many loves, which I add to as new reflections strike me.

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.

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.

Reflections on Irish Identity in 2023
Reflections on Irish Identity in 2023

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

The Mother Prioress, Dame Teresa, and the three nuns
who revisited Ypres.
The Irish Dames of Ypres – Escape from the Western Front

The dramatic story of the Irish Benedictine nuns of Ypres and their escape from Belgium and France at the height of World War One to Ireland where they went on to establish Kylemore Abbey.

Gozo - Blessed Virgins and Grophibberous Beaches
Gozo – Blessed Virgins and Grophibberous Beaches

Turtle sizes up the second-largest of the Maltese islands, with its clearwater beaches, religious festivals and Neolithic ruins.

The Glorious Madness - Tales of the Irish & the Great War - Introduction & Contents
The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War – Introduction & Contents

By the time you combine all the Irish or half-Irish who served in the British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and US armies during World War One, there was probably more than quarter of a million soldiers. As to the number of Irish-born died, 36,000 seems to be the increasingly accepted figure. My book a collection is not a definitive book of Irish involvement in the war. It is simply a collection of Great War stories with an Irish twist

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.

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.

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

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

The Lisnavagh archives contains all of Benjamin’s regimental commissions, including some that appear to be personally signed by King George III.
The Rathdonnell Papers (PRONI)

This index – a work in progress – was originally compiled in 1996 by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. This list covers almost all of the Rathdonnell archive. 

Molana Abbey.
Molana Abbey: From the Stone Age to Dissolution

Molana Abbey is located on the Blackwater outside Youghal, County Waterford. Its history is astonishing – the birthplace of Canon Law, the burial place of Raymond Le Gros and the home of Thomas Harriot, one of the first Europeans to visit the Americas.

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.

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.

The River Nore flowing by Woodstock.
Waterways Through Time

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

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.

St. Columba (521-592) – the Making of a Missionary
St. Columba (521-592) – the Making of a Missionary

The story of the feisty Donegal missionary who brought Christianity to Pictish Scotland, after a devastating battle in Ireland … and how a court case that he was embroiled in set a useful precedent for anyone advocating Google’s right to free content.

Kathleen and Peter Ronaghan in 1928, possibly on their wedding day.
Ronaghan of Monaghan

The Ronaghan family have been associated with County Monaghan for many long centuries, specifically with Oriel, an ancient kingdom that embraced Monaghan as well as parts of Tyrone, Armagh and Louth. In more recent times, they have been one of Monaghan's foremost pharmacists. These notes were compiled by Turtle, with multiple assistance from the late Lorcan Ronaghan, and include records of the Rose Estate (Muallaghmore). 

The Big Snow & Freeze-Up in West Wicklow, 1963, by Michael O'Brien
The Big Snow & Freeze-Up in West Wicklow, 1963, by Michael O'Brien

“The heavens scowled, the huskies howled and an ice wind began to blow.” This is a guest-post by Michael O'Brien.

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.  

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

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

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

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

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.

Denny Galvin. Photo: James Fennell.
Denny Galvin – Cattle Farmer of Stradbally

From the ‘Vanishing Ireland' archives, an interview with Denis ‘Denny' Galvin, a cattle farmer born in 1945, about the challenges of keeping his County Kerry farm in order in the early 21st century.

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

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

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.

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.

View of Roques de García volcanic rocks and Mount Teide in Teide National Park on Tenerife, Spain, by Dronepicr.
Tenerirfe – The Island of Lost Arms & Comedy Seals

Tenerife ain't the sort of place you'd generally associate with snow. Nor would you particularly expect penguins to hang out there. But much is not as it seems on this, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, pitched out in the Atlantic Ocean, 275km off the coast of Africa. In the indigenous Guanche language, Tenerife means ‘snow-capped mountain' and sure enough there's a great big mountain at its centre …

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

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

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.’

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.

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!”

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.

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.

Han Solo
Harrison Ford – The Hollywood Carpenter

‘As a man, I've always felt Irish. As an actor, I've always felt Jewish.’ So declared Harrison Ford who, born in Chicago in 1942, was the grandson of John Fitzgerald Ford, an Irish Catholic émigré.

Half-Time Oranges: Joe Rock (1927-2016)
Half-Time Oranges: Joe Rock (1927-2016)

The Rock family from Dublin were awarded the Dermot Earley Family Award in the 2022 GAA Presidents Awards. The award honours the superb and long standing impact the Rock family have had on GAA life in the capital. Joe Rock was a Croke Park legend prior to his death at the age of 90 in 2016. A grand uncle of Dublin All-Star forward, Dean Rock, Joe worked at Croke Park since the age of six, looking after the dressing room and tunnel areas for the biggest games of the year. He told me of his highs and lows, including shadow-boxing with Al “Blue” Lewis and picking orange peels off the ground as a young fellow.

Noel Robinson – Farmer of Coole, County Westmeath
Noel Robinson – Farmer of Coole, County Westmeath

Born in 1939, Westmeath farmer Noel Robinson reflects on mixed marriages, emigration, rabbit-hunting, holy wells, and the challenges for farmers in the 21st century. From the Vanishing Ireland archives.

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

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

Photo: James Fennell.
The McGarvey Brothers of Clones, County Monaghan

The McGarvey brothers were once amongst the best-known faces in the border-town of Clones. Making their way down Fermanagh Street, ambling across the Diamond or talking with friends in the shadow of the ancient Round Tower, the brothers were almost certainly destined for a pub. The joys of celibacy meant they had little to trouble them other than raising the price of a pint.

A scene from El Alamein.
Dennis of Fortgranite, County Wicklow

Kinsfolk of both Jonathan Swift and John Dryden, the Dennis family fortunes rose with a prudent marriage to a sole heiress, netting them extensive estates in Kerry, Cork and Dublin. Family members include the artist Kathleen Marescaux, the Indian tea magnate Maurice FitzGerald Sandes, radio pioneer Colonel Meade Dennis and General Meade Dennis, who served as principal artillery commander under Montgomery at El Alamein. Fortgranite, their family home, was sold in 2019.

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.

Mrs Oscar De Glanville, The Graphic - 27 December 1930.
De Glanville of Sussex, Formby, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma (Myanmar)

Kitty Ievers, my father’s great-aunt, married Bertram de Glanville, chairman of the Colombo Port Commission in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1930s. The following insights into the de Glanville / Glanville family focuses on Bertram and his half-brother, Sir Oscar de Glanville, who had an fascinating, sometimes controversial and ultimately tragic career in Myanmar when it was a part of the British Empire known as Burma.

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.

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

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

Slevoir House, Terryglass, Co. Tipperary, is up for sale via Christie’s, here. The Synge’s sold it after the Rev Francis Syge’s death in 1870.
Synge of Syngefield & Rathmore (Offaly) and Slevoir (Tipperary)

It was always said that my great-grandmother Ethel Synge Ievers (who married the 3rd Baron Rathdonnell) was a cousin of the playwright John Millington Synge. This is true, albeit in a rather distant way …

Bob Ievers as a young man.
Bob & Kate Ievers in Ceylon, plus Ethel, Nena and Kitty

Robert Wilson Ievers, known as Bob, was a high-profile civil servant in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during the late 19th century. He spoke Singhalese, wrote poetry and explored the ancient ruins of Anarahdapura and Sigiriya. His wife Kate miraculously survived a scuffle with a sloth bear. In 1912, their daughter Ethel married Tim McClintock Bunbury, later 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. Tim and Ethel's son William was my father's father.

Rathdonnell Rental Account Books for Rathvilly, Celbridge, Swords etc 1929-1973

Detailing tenants of family properties owned in Carlow (Rathvilly, Mountneill , Moanavoth, Lisnavagh, Ballybit), Kildare (Celbridge), Dublin (Swords) and Meath (Flemingstown), including the post office, Molloy's and the Harp Bar in Rathvilly. As transcribed by 5th Baron Rathdonnell on 2 November 2016.

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

Alexander McClintock of Drumcar (1692-1775)
Alexander McClintock of Drumcar (1692-1775)

The “fairy godfather” of his nephews and nieces, Alexander McClintock was a barrister of note in Dublin during the early Georgian Age, and Attorney at the Court of Common Pleas. He acquired Drumcar, County Louth, which later passed to his principal heir, Bumper Jack McClintock of Drumcar. Alexanders wife was Rebecca Sampson.

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.

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.

Crawford of Orangefield (Belfast), The Lodge (Antrim) & Nenagh (Tipperary)
Crawford of Orangefield (Belfast), The Lodge (Antrim) & Nenagh (Tipperary)

Ethel McClintock Bunbury, my father’s grandmother, was a daughter of Robert Ievers and his wife, Catherine (Kate) Crawford.  Kate was the eldest daughter of Andrew Howard Crawford whose family were prominent bankers and merchants in Belfast during the nineteenth century.

A tea chest from Sri Lanka (formerly c
Ceylon), with which island the Barrys were so closely associated.
Barry of Forfar (Scotland), Glenageary (Dublin) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

Beatrice Crawford, aka Bee Barry, was an aunt of Ethel Synge Ievers, my great-grandmother, who married Tim McClintock Bunbury, later 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. This is a brief study of the Barry family with whom she married.

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

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.

Photo: James Fennell
Maisie Grannell (1925-2023) – The Seamstress of Enniscorthy, County Wexford

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

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

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

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 …

George IV at the Royal Dublin Society
George IV’s Royal Visit to Ireland, 1821

In 1821, when the new king commenced an 18-day visit to Ireland, the scandal-mongers of London homed in on the new leading light in His Majesty’s bedchamber – Elizabeth, Lady Conyngham, the chatelaine of Slane Castle, County Meath.

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

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

St Patrick's (Church of Ireland) in Slane was a stronghold of the Disney clergymen.
Brabazon Disney – A Mostly Clerical Family

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

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

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

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.

Condé Nast Traveler: Gold List 2021;  Condé Nast Traveler, Europe's No. 1 Resort  2019;  Ireland's Leading Hotel 2018, 2019, 2020 World Travel Awards
Adare Manor – The Renaissance of an Irish Country House

Turtle Bunbury’s 2020 book traces Adare Manor’s journey from its origins as a medieval manor house in County Limerick to its 21st-century status as a multi-award-winning, luxury five-star resort and venue for the 2027 Ryder Cup.

Rayne's Shoes - A Tipperary Tale
Rayne's Shoes – A Tipperary Tale

Rayne’s were the world's most glamorous shoes in the 20th century, when Royalty and Hollywood wore them with gusto. Their story began with the Ryans of Cahir, County Tipperary.

Black Tom Wentworth, Earl of Strafford.
Madden of Bloxham Beauchamp (England) and Manor Waterhouse / Hilton Park (Ireland)

Exploring the origins of the Madden family of County Monaghan and their connection to the Waterhouse of Manor Waterhouse (Fermanagh), the Butlers of Stotfold (Bedfordshire) and Belturbet (Cavan) and Black Tom Wentworth.

Fearghal McGarry, ‘The Abbey Rebels of 1916 – A Lost Revolution’ (Gill and Macmillan, 2016).
The Abbey Rebels of 1916

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin has long claimed to be the cradle of the Irish revolution. Belfast-based historian Fearghal McGarry explores this connection in his excellent book ‘The Abbey Rebels of 1916 – A Lost Revolution’ (Gill and Macmillan, 2016), which  follows the lives of seven Abbey actors and staff who were involved in the Easter Rising.

Sir John Conroy
Sir John Conroy (1786-1854) – Childhood Nemesis of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was the illegitimate daughter of an Irishman. At least that was the sensational …

District Inspector Thomas St George MacCarthy. Photo: Police Service of Northern Ireland Museum, Belfast.
Thomas St. George MacCarthy (1862-1943) – The Rugby Star who Co-founded the GAA

District Inspector MacCarthy was the most unlikely of all the people present when the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1884. He was, after all, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, like his father before him. MacCarthy would have a controversial career in the police but he would also be airbrushed from history until 2009.

Loughbawn House
Maxwell of Corduff (Lusk, Co. Dublin) & Finnebrogue (Co. Down)

A very brief look at the Maxwells, as well as the Battersby and Waring families, in the context of a reputed link to Constance Markiewicz.

Maunsell of Oakley Park, Celbridge, County Kildare
Maunsell of Oakley Park, Celbridge, County Kildare

A heroic defence of a Waterford against Cromwell's army earned the Maunsell family respect from the Irish when they first settled in the mid 17th century. During the Georgian Age, they rose to prominence in Limerick, as bankers, politicians and Mayors. In the arly 18th century, they moved to Oakley Park, from where they married into the Orpen family. Today the house is run by the St John of Gods.

General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier, K.C.B. (1751 - 1860), attributed to George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). As a boy, he apparently spent ‘much of his time with a vagabond called Scully … [who was] something of a poacher’
Napier of Celbridge Park (Oakley Park), County Kildare

In 1787, Oakley Park became the home of Colonel George Napier and his wife, the former Lady Sarah Bunbury (née Lennox).

Bust of Jonathan Swift at the Royal Dublin Society.
Swift of Kenagh (Longford), Streete and Lynn (Westmeath) and Swifte’s Heath (Kilkenny)

This report from 2012 was my attempt to connect the Swifts of Kenagh and Streete to the family of Jonathan Swift, the celebrated Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I nearly succeeded but let's call it a work in progress …

Rosie Hackett wearing the gold medal she received for serving sixty years in the Trade Union movement.
Rosie Hackett (1893-1976) – For Whom the Dublin Bridge is Named

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

P. S. Gilmore by Derry Dillon, from the Past Tracks panel installed by Turtle at Athlone railway station in 2022.
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (1829-1892) – No. 1 Bandmaster of the USA

P. S. Gilmore was once the most famous entertainer in the USA. Born in Ireland, he spent 6 years studying music before emigrating to Boston aged 20. He excelled as a bandmaster, composer, conductor and showman. His band performed at the inauguration of six US presidents, as well as the ceremony to open the Statue of Liberty. He organised some of the biggest musical festivals in history and wrote the anti-war ballad, ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’.

Sri Lanka 2002 - Anyone for Tennis?
Sri Lanka 2002 – Anyone for Tennis?

It took my grandfather’s ocean liner a month to get to British Ceylon. He was going to see his sister who’d married a tea planter. The year was 1938 and his fellow passengers were prosperous Jewish refugees bound for Sydney and a new, safer life down under. As he disembarked in Colombo, his sister greeted him with solemn news from Kilkenny; mother is unwell. The siblings had just enough time to drink some tea and climb Adam’s Peak before the next liner set forth across the Indian Ocean and back down the Suez.

Honest Tom Steele
Honest Tom Steele (1788-1848) – Landlord and Repealer

The story of a graduate of Cambridge, a landed proprietor of Clare, an inventor of diving bells and a veteran of the Spanish Republican army who served as Daniel O'Connell's right-hand man for 24 years.

Hermione, Duchess of Leinster,  in 1890, photographed by W. & D. Downey.
Hermione, Duchess of Leinster (1864-1895)

Hermione’s story forms the heart of an epic book by Terence Dooley, ‘The Decline and Fall of the Dukes of Leinster 1872-1948,’ which examines the lives of three dukes who succeeded in turn to the miscellaneous lands and titles of the FitzGerald family, including Carton House and Kilkea Castle. Sub-titled ‘Love, war, debt and madness’, the book was billed as Ireland’s ‘Downton Abbey’ when it published. It is certainly a gripping if tragic saga.

Nova Scotia - Land of Lobsters
Nova Scotia – Land of Lobsters

Pondering some of the Irish links to Nova Scotia following a fabulous visit to the easternmost province of Canada.

Copper mining in Mexico.
Delbridge of Cornwall, Arizona & Mexico

John Delbridge lived an extraordinary life that took in the tin mines of Cornwall and the copper mines of Mexico and Arizona, among many other places. He was my wife Ally's great-grandfather.

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 Massacre of Mullaghmast

This article was originally written in 2001 but it has been continually amended since, as I …

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. 

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

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

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 .

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

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

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.

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”.

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

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

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.

Illustrated depiction of Clarion County oil fields in Pennsylvania from 1877.
A History of the O’Leary and 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. 

A still from 'The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini' with Olwen Fouéré as Violet Gibson.
Violet Gibson – The Irish Aristocrat Who Shot Mussolini

The astonishing story of a Dublin-born gentlewoman, who attempted to assassinate Mussolini when she was fifty years old, and her connection to – and eventual rejection by – one of Ireland’s most distinguished legal families.

Cropped from a photo by Ciaran Smyth.
Rise & Fall: The Maguire Kings of Fermanagh

Fifteen Maguires were crowned as Kings of Fermanagh between 1264 and 1589. The region was, by and large, stable for those three centuries. The Maguires were exceptionally progressive, their households replete with historians, poets and learned men. They were also benefactors of the Christian church, introducing new orders, endowing churches and embarking on pilgrimages to Rome and Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

Heinz Johannsen turned 87 years old in 2022.
The German Boy & the Irish Soldier

Heinz Johannsen is on the hunt for an Irishman called Pat, ‘a gentleman’ who liked singing and swimming. Pat was in the Royal Air Force. In fact, he served with the RAF during and after the Second World War. That’s when he and Heinz became friends …

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

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

Bunbury of Ballyseskin & Wexford
Bunbury of Ballyseskin & Wexford

This is a lesser known branch of the Bunbury family, connected to Ballyseskin in the barony of Bargy in County Wexford. The founder of this branch may have been a Cromwellian officer, even if other Bunburys fought for the king, and its descendants include Walter Bunbury, MP for Clonmines in the reign of Queen Anne, and his formidable wife, Dame Elizabeth.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

Consistently ranked among the world’s top resorts, Ballyfin’s history reaches back to an age when the O’More chieftains dominated the surrounding lands. Its story encompasses multiple families – Crosbie, Pole, Coote and Wellesley – with Iron Dukes, bounders and heiresses in the mix, as well as its tenure as a Patrician school and its remarkable restoration in the present century.

22 August 1941
Sugar Rationing in Ireland in the 1940s

Extracted from the Northern Standard concerning sugar rationing, smuggling, etc.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bookplate of Captain Theophilus Desbrisay.
Théophilus Desbrisay (1662-1767) & the Corkagh Deed of 1743

Recounting the story of one of the more colourful families to take an interest in Corkagh House, Clondalkin, Co. Dublin. The Desbrisays claimed descent from a warrior whom Charles the Bald entrusted with defending France against Viking and Breton assaults in the 9th century …

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.

Gunpowder was key to the Grueber fortune.
Nicholas Grueber & Corkagh’s Gunpowder Mill

In the 18th century, a French Huguenot called Nicholas Grueber built the gunpowder mills at Corkagh, Clondalkin, County Dublin. This story reveals how his family also ran William III’s mills at Faversham in Kent, and examines the construction of the Corkagh mills.

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.

One of the earliest published depictions of Napoleon, made just as he was coming to prominence as a 29-year-old General. It was drawn by Jean-Urbain Guérin (1760-1836), who, along with Jean-Baptiste Isabey and Jacques Augustin, is considered one of the finest French miniaturists.
Dr. Barry O’Meara (1786-1836) – Napoleon’s Doctor

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

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 .

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

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

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?

Mike Murphy (1937-2012) - Fiddler & Taxi Driver, Ennistymon, County Clare
Mike Murphy (1937-2012) – Fiddler & Taxi Driver, Ennistymon, County Clare

Mike toured the USA seven times as fiddler with the Tulla Ceil Band. Chicago was his kind of town. Toronto impressed him too. He was not trained in music. Few of his contemporaries were. He would listen to his father play and then, at the age of eight, he picked up a mouth organ. Shortly afterwards he moved on to the fiddle and accordion.

Applause for Vanishing Ireland
Applause for Vanishing Ireland

Christy Moore, Rob Kearney, John Spain and hundreds of others voice their approval of the Vanishing Ireland project on a page that Turtle secretly visits from time to time on the rare occasions he's feeling a little blue.

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.

Scene 57 of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Was the Baron de St Pierre in action on that momentous day?
The Baron de St. Pierre & the Bunbury Family

The origins of the family, with their connection to the Baron de St. Pierre and Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, plus other links to Saint Boniface, the Barons Malpas, the de Boneberrys &c.

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.

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

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

Photo: James Fennell.
Con Riordan (1912-2008) – Farmer – Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry

With his 95th birthday looming close, Con is philosophical but restless. ‘I can’t do a lot of work at my age. When you’ve nothing to do, you can feel the day. But sure, we still have plenty of time’.

The Earls of Mount Cashell (Moore)
The Earls of Mount Cashell (Moore)

The Moore family, Earls of Mont Cashell, lived at Kilworth in north County Cork. This story looks at the story of the six earls, with a focus on the 5th Earl and his wife Charlotte, only child of Richard and Harriette Smyth of Ballynatray.  

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.

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.

Michael Keneally by Dorothea Lange.
Mick Kenneally (1939-2013) – Potato & Cattle Farmer, Cloonanaha, County Clare

‘They’d all meet after mass and stand around chatting for hours. That’s gone now. Then everyone got motor cars and they drove away afters. Back then it was all walking. There was maybe the odd bicycle or a few asses and carts. But everyone else walked.’

John Flynn. Photo: James Fennell.
The Ballyduff Three, County Waterford

Written following an encounter in circa 2005 with thresher John Flynn (born 1943), store manager Pat Flynn (born 1939) and the late postmaster, Eamon Bolger (1931-2009).

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.

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

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

Photo: James Fennell.
Thomas Connolly's – Holborn & Markievicz Street, Sligo Town

During the 1930s, Sligo was the second biggest port in north-western Ireland. Every week, cargo ships from Poland, Denmark, Scotland and such like would dock, laden with corn, tea, timber and coal. The hardy sailors frequently piled into Connolly’s to drink ‘rum and blacks’ alongside Sligo’s indigenous dockers. Public order within the pub was maintained by Jim Fox, who had served with the Royal Irish Constabulary from 1882 through until the foundation of the Free State in 1922.

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.

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. 

McClelland of Glasnevin & Henry Street, Dublin
McClelland of Glasnevin & Henry Street, Dublin

From a drapers shop on Henry Street, Dublin, to the postmastership of Glasnevin, this story looks at the family of Florence McClelland (1881- 1962) who, by her marriage in 1905 to John Craigie, was grandmother to Miriam Moore, née Craigie, my mother-in-law, and thus the great-great grandmother to our daughters. 

Living in Sri Lanka - Introductory Remarks
Living in Sri Lanka – Introductory Remarks

In 2006, Thames & Hudson published the book ‘Living in Sri Lanka,’ which photographer James Fennell and I had put together in the years before the tsunami. The houses, villas and hotels featured in the book reflected a strong spirit of optimism in the face of adversity. They are all unique creations, some three centuries old, others extraordinarily new. Yet they have been constructed with the utmost respect for the environment and are infused with the style and panache of their owners.

Photo: James Fennell.
Ulpotha – Sacred Bliss in Sri Lanka

A two-thousand-year-old reservoir provides the backdrop for a sumptuous 21st-century eco-village and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. The owner has added an ambalama (where guests take meals), built mud huts for accommodation, set up an organic farm, and created a paranagama.

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. 

Furnacemen at the Bolckow Vaughan ironworks in front of their blast furnace at Middlesbrough.
Connolly of Dundalk, County Louth

Looking at a Dundalk family and their work at places such as the iron works of Middlesborough in England and, back in Dundalk, the Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, Carroll’s Cigarettes and the family grocery at 15 Chapel Lane.

A portrait of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, by Jean-Étienne Liotard (London, 1754). Billy was Liotard’s most significant British client.
Ponsonby, Earls of Bessborough, County Kilkenny & Bishopscourt, County Kildare

The rise, fall and rise of the Ponsonby family during the 18th century when one became Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, their rivalry with the Boyle family, and the intermediary role played by the Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire.

Scene following the 1906 Valparaíso earthquake.
Galvin of Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary & Chile

An epic tale that brings the Galvin family from rural Ireland to faraway lands where they live and perish in Australia, New York, Peru and Chile, with a nod to the Valparaiso earthquake and the Galvin brothers role in bringing rugby to Chile.

Santa Claus in New York.
All Aboard the Rathwood Santa Train

Now a national landmark for the Christmas season, the Rathwood Santa Train was conceived in 2006 – the brainchild of the Keogh family who run the hugely successful Rathwood shopping emporium outside the bustling market town of Tullow, County Carlow. Patrick was a potato farmer who supplemented his income as an accountant to farmers throughout the area. In 1994, after 16 years of potato farming, he decided to convert the potato shed into a garden shop and homeware store.

Cork City Gaol
The History of Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol, one of Cork’s foremost visitor attractions, has drawn almost two million people since it opened to the public in 1993. In another age, it was the city’s main prison for almost exactly 100 years. Its past ‘residents’ include Constance Markiewicz, Todd Andrews, the writer Frank O'Connor and a number of prominent Young Irelanders and Fenians from 1848 and 1867.

The headstone of Rebecca and Mary Harris discovered on the seafront south of Inveran
The Curious Case of the Connemara Grave, 2014

The discovery of a grave, exposed when the roaring Atlantic Ocean waves crashed in upon it during Storm Hercules, ignited a hunt for the family of William Harris, an English coastguard who operated out of Costello Bay, and his wife Mary Rile, as well as their two daughters.

The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854
The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854

114 Irishmen rode out with the Light Brigade in their famous charge. Indeed, a third of the ‘British' soldiers who fought in the Crimean War are reckoned to have been Irish, including 7,000 who died. This article looks at the charge, and those manifold Irish connections.  

Close up from Illustrated London News, 29 March 1924
The Tex Austin Rodeo at Wembley and Croke Park, 1924

In 1924, Tex Austin’s International Rodeo laid on an ‘engrossing and astonishing’ spectacle at Wembley in London and later, Croke Park in Dublin. Hundreds of thousands flocked to see stars like Nowata Slim’ Richardson, Ruth Roche and Tom Kirnan perform in a feast of steer wrestling, bronk riding, trick riding and pony express races.

Tailteann Games poster
Strange Tales from Croke Park

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

Detail from John Nixon, Shakespeare forgery
Edmund Malone & the Shakespeare Hoax, 1794-1796

The story of one of the greatest cause célèbre’s of the Georgian Age, orchestrated by William Henry Ireland, and blown apart by Edmund Malone, the preeminent Shakespearean scholar of the day … but not until Boswell, Sheridan and other leading lights of the period had proved themselves suckers. 

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.

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

By 1890, Chicago had the third highest population of Irish emigrants in the USA. The city's Irish-American heroes include Butch O'Hare, Captain Francis O'Neill, Richard Daley, Mother Jones and the men who built the I&M Canal.

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.

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.

Portrait of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Arthur Wolfe (later Viscount Kilwarden) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton (c1739-1808)
Wolfe of Forenaughts, County Kildare

This remarkable family produced no less than eleven Freemen of Dublin over the years. The most celebrated member was Chief Justice Lord Kilwarden, a patron of Wolfe Tone, murdered during the Emmet Rebellion of 1803. A high profile marriage to the fashionable Lady Charlotte Hutchinson produced no heirs, while another heir was slain in action against the Mahdi in Sudan. This article also looks at General Wolfe who captured Quebec, and Charles Wolfe, the poet who wrote the famous elegy on the death of Sir John Moore

Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork (1566 - 1643) by William Holl
Richard Boyle (1566–1643) – The Great Earl of Cork

Without question, Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork,  was the dominant figure on Ireland’s Blackwater …

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

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

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.

The Sinking of Recovery, 1787
The Sinking of Recovery, 1787

Notes on the sinking of a ship, on which John La Touche and General Daniel Corneille, former Governor of St Helena, owned some of the goods on board.

Vigors of Old Leighlin, Erindale & Holloden
Vigors of Old Leighlin, Erindale & Holloden

The Vigors hailed from Devon, England, and came to Ireland in the early 17th century when one of them became chaplain to the influential Boyle family. During the reign of Charles II, they  were granted estates in County Carlow, where branches were established at Old Leighlin, Holloden and Burgage. Family members include a zoologist, an antiquarian and the writer Wilfred Thesiger.

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

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

Al Capone's Irish Wife
Al Capone's Irish Wife

The beautiful Mary Josephine Coughlin, known as ‘Mae’, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1897, the daughter of Michael Coughlin and Bridget Gorman of Ireland. Al Capone's father was Gabriele FitzGerald Capone … so there seems to be Irish a-plenty on both sides.

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 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.

Photo: James Fennell.
Michael King (1925-2006) – Politician, Postmaster & Farmer – Errislannan, Connemara, County Galway

‘We used to go out on the long winters nights for five or six pints. We’d drink them slow, then drive home after. Now the pubs are all empty and people stay at home with a take out. If you’re not within walking distance of the pubs, you may forget it.'

Photo: James Fennell.
Mike Burke (1926-2016) – Cattle Farmer – Kilmeena, County Mayo

As a young fellow, he would accompany a horse and cart down to the bog where they cut and dried the turf. ‘Two carts of turf would be drawn every day,’ says Mike, ‘and brought home, forty miles a day.’ It was the same with mowing the fields. ‘The whole parish was cut with the horses!’

Photo: James Fennell.
Michael ‘Patsy’ Flanagan (1924-2009) – Drummer and Farmer – Bartra, Lahinch, County Clare

‘I may be coming on eighty-three, but I have a few more nights to be done yet,’ he says, tapping his drum with a stick ‘If you don’t see this drum, then you may take it they’ve got someone else!’

Photo: James Fennell.
The Piggott Twins (born 1931) – Farmers & Accordion Player Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry

Like many Kerry farmers, the twins have a keen sense of music. Pat is highly skilled in playing the melodeon or squeezebox. ‘I learned by the air’, he says. ‘By listening’, adds John ingenuously, as if that settles it.

Photo: James Fennell.
Pat Gleeson (1913-2006) – Farmer and Musician – Belmont, County Offaly

‘They say about the Irishman, his wars were merry and his songs were sad,’ he says before singing a song. His blue eyes invite those who listen into his past – full of crumbling stonewalls, mud cabins, turf fires, long brown overcoats and grinning soldiers with evil eyes.

Photo: James Fennell
John Shannon (1922-2005) – Cattle Farmer of Ennistymon, Co. Clare

He was a great old worker”, says Mary, “and a great one for telling stories. The next generation coming up, we know nothing. All the information from them times will be gone. When you’re young, you don’t really listen. And by the time you get interested, they’re all gone”.

Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Scanlan (1927-2016) – Skipper & Lighthouse Keeper – Rosses Point, Co. Sligo

Fourteen-year-old Paddy was among several thousand who heard the explosion from the mainland when the mine detonated. His father died of his wounds early the next day. An older man approaching Paddy soon afterwards. ‘You are the head of the family now’, he said.

Henry Chapman and Red Tom. Photo: James Fennell.
Red Tom (1922-2209) and Henry Chapman (1928-?) – Shepherd and Gamekeeper – Kilruddery, Bray, County Wicklow

At his peak, Red Tom smoked a hundred Sweet Afton a day. ‘I’d get them for nothing,’ he says. ‘Father Michael … be janey mac, every time he saw me going by, he’d say, “Here, hold on,” and throw me three boxes with twenty packs in each.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Jack O’Neill (1925-2007) – Builder – Tuckmill Cross, County Wicklow

Every Sunday, Jack rambled up to the village of Grangecon for a pint in Mrs Moore’s establishment. ‘It’s good to get out for an old chat,' he said. ‘I’ll go while I’m able because I’m going to be dead long enough.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Jack ‘Ginger' Powell (1913-2015) – Ireland's Oldest Vet – Toomevara, County Tipperary

‘We went to the neighbours’ houses and we chatted and sang songs and played tricks and enjoyed ourselves. Now you hardly know your neighbours. Young people hardly know their neighbours. It’s not their fault. If we were the same age, we’d be the same. They’re the victim of a way of life.'

Photo: James Fennell
Kitty Crowe (1926-2009) – Singer & Community Champion – Ringsend, Dublin 4

‘There’s so much pressure and anxiety in the world. You can’t expect everything to be there with a click of the fingers. You’ve got to wait and take your time. Everything is not dull. It’s what you make of it.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Frank Maher (1936-2014) – Carpenter & Fisherman – River Blackwater, Doneraile, County Cork

‘I’m a carpenter by trade but I’m retired now,’ says Frank. ‘When you get over seventy, you may throw the towel in and go fishing.’

Photo: James Fennell
Festus Nee (c.1934-2008) – Pony Whisperer – Cashel, County Galway

He stands by a stone wall, sporting a Texan hat given to him ‘by an old girlfriend last summer’. He puffs on his pipe and thinks for a while. At length, he scratches his chin and says ‘No, I’d say all the old timers are gone now.

Photo: James Fennell
Mrs Margaret Shortt (1925-2013) -Lady's maid – Birr, County Offaly

‘The castle means an awful lot to me,’ says Margaret wistfully. ‘It was a very good house for food and lots of posh, rich people came. I do miss it, the activity and everything. I still go walking in there a good deal.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Mick Staunton (c.1924/1938-2017) – Fruit Seller – Kinvara, County Galway

I still don’t know what age he is. Initially he said he was eighty-two. Then he said he was only codding and he’d be sixty-eight in July. And, finally, he said he’d been doing the market thing for at least sixty-five years. It’s the way he is. He talks in riddles.

Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Lowry (1919-2013) – Farmer & Folklorist – Forlacka, Kinitty, County Offaly

Paddy is a religious man of sorts, and goes to church to pray but he won’t tolerate too much hyperbole from the hierarchy. ‘Some of the biggest hoors that ever was were Catholic – and there were some very decent people who were pagans.’

Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Canny (1919-2008) – Fiddler & Farmer – Kilcannon, Tulla, County Clare

Paddy’s father was also a keen traditional fiddler and specialised in teaching children how to play. ‘In his time, there was more music around,’ says Paddy with his bashful smile. ‘A lot of the musicians he knew were of an older generation. He would keep them in the house for the winter.'

Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Gleeson (1904-2010) – Farmer of Bodyke, East Clare

‘Once, I was coming to school and I met two fellows leading a three-year-old bullock with horns. On his horns was a placard – ‘The Land for the People and the Road for the Bullock’. And beneath the bull, they were dragging a man who was after evicting a poor widow woman from her home.’

Paddy Fagan. Photo: James Fennell.
Paddy Fagan (1924-2014) – Forester & Farmer of Enfield, County Meath

‘I’m just ticking over,’ says the eighty-two-year-old forester, while tippling several litres of petrol from a billy-can directly into a chainsaw without spilling a drop. ‘And once you keep ticking, you’re not too bad.’

Robbie McMahon. Photo: James Fennell.
Robbie McMahon (1926-2012)  – Singer & Farmer – Spancil Hill, County Clare

When Robbie McMahon sings “Spancil Hill”, it all falls into place. There have been so many versions of this powerful ballad that it becomes easy to forget who was there first. He revels in his role as guardian to the ballad. ‘How many times have I sung it? Well, it must be getting close to ten thousands times?’

Stephen John Tierney
Stephen John Tierney (1935-2010) – Farmer of Lough Corrib, County Galway

 ‘Make a living on it if you can and if you can’t, pack it up. Farms are a thing of the past,’ says he, ‘and all that’s keeping them going are old lads like me at seventy! A young lad doesn’t want to know about it.’

Tom Frawley.
Tom Frawley (1920-2014) – Publican – Lahinch, County Clare

‘If priests were allowed to marry, they wouldn’t have had half the number of scandals.’ When Tom Frawley makes his point, he does not slam his fist on the bar. He says the words with quiet certainty. He has thought the matter through thoroughly and he knows he is correct. Besides which, the bar is his so why would he want to go and bang it.

The inimitable Robert Mullins.
Bob Mullins (1921-2019) – Tree Farmer & Market Trader, Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary 

‘When that man passes away, we’re taking down O’Connell’s statue and putting him up instead,’ laughs the man who sells cabbages at the next door stall. ‘They will like feck,’ says Bob with the vaguest hint of a smile.

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.”

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, …

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.

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.

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.

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.'

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.

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 …

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 (Lis