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This extensive archive is increasing in size every week and already offers hundreds of historical articles on (mostly Irish) families, houses, companies and events.

It includes content from Turtle’s best-selling books such as the ‘Vanishing Ireland’ series and ‘Easter Dawn’, as well as ‘1847’, ‘Dublin Docklands’, ‘The Irish Pub’, ‘Maxol’ and many more.

Also here is content from the panels now on show at Irish Rail stations through Turtle’s Past Tracks project.

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This considerable archive is being updated, improved and expanded on a daily basis, and will be through 2022. If the story you seek is incomplete or not showing up in the archive, please email us and we shall investigate.

Photo: James Fennell
Nellie O'Toole (1908-2010) – Nurse & Housekeeper of Rathvilly, Co. Carlow

‘People don't laugh enough these days. Laughing is very good for your heart'. The wise words of Nellie O'Toole, who lived to be 102. Nellie was full of memories of her home village of Rathvilly during the awfulness of the Spanish Flu (or the Asian Flu, as she called it) and the War of Independence. Three brothers emigrated to the USA, including one who was a driver for Michael Collins. This article includes the full account of my serendipitous interview with Nellie, as well as a recording of her voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ballybit Pot.
Ballybit, County Carlow

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

Replica of an urn found on Ballon Hill.
The Lisnavagh Area in the Bronze Age

To the best of my knowledge, the oldest megaliths around Lisnavagh are the fabulous portal …

Memorial to Michael Fay, Rathvilly, erected in 2021.

"From Flanders plain across the Main,

There came a soldier bold,

who changed his mind, a place to find,

Beneath the Green and Gold,

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

And his name was Michael Fay

By Barrow banks he joined the ranks,

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

150 Years of the Clonmel Horse Show (1865-2015)
150 Years of the Clonmel Horse 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.

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.

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 Big Snow of 1947, 1963, 1982 ... and other major Snowstorms
The Big Snow of 1947, 1963, 1982 … and other major Snowstorms

The Big Snow of 1947 was the coldest and harshest winter to hit Ireland in living memory. However, there have been many other severe winters in Irish history, from 1315 through to 1963 and 1982. This is a look at all those white-outs when time stands still.

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

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

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 …

Frances McFadden of Carrigans Upper, Ballymote, County Sligo. Photo: James Fennell.
Francie McFadden (1929-2013) – The Gravedigger of Ballymote

Francie was one of 12 children, as was his father, so he also had 12 children. In this interview, he ponders the Big Snow of 1947 (‘people said Ireland was finished’), the megaliths of Sligo, his time on the bogs, working as a builder in England and why you should never harm a holy tree.

Jack Lowry – Blacksmith of the Slieve Blooms
Jack Lowry – Blacksmith of the Slieve Blooms

A blacksmith from near Mountrath, County Laois, recalls the Big Snow of 1932 and how the forge was the community hub before the advent of tractors and rural electrification.

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

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

The 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.

PJ Davis (1924-2009), mechanic, Ennistymon, County Clare
PJ Davis (1924-2009) – The Mechanic of Ennistymon, County Clare

‘I could tell you about every part of every car we made,' recalls PJ of his time at the Rootes Group (now Chrysler) foundry near Coventry. ‘Where it came from, the engine, the cylinder, the pistons, the chassis, the valve, the whole lot’. He also recalls his work at the the Scunthorope Steelworks in North Lincolnshire and the Stubben Saddles factory on the Lahinch Road near Ennistymon.

Seamus Vaughan (1922-2013), Clothes Merchant & Turf Cutter, Upper Dirreen, Athea, County Limerick. Photo: James Fennell.
Seamus Vaughan (1922-2013) – Clothes Merchant and Turf Cutter, County Limerick

‘When I was to be baptised, I was taken in an ass and cart to the village. I suppose people would pay good money to go to a baptism in an ass and cart these days.’ A clothes merchant from Upper Dirreen, Athea, County Limerick, recalls his time as a soldier in the British army in World War Two and working as a turf cutter on the Bog of Allen, as well as his kinship with Denis Guiney, the Kerry draper who owned Clery’s department store in Dublin.

Roisin Folan. Photo: James Fennell.
Róisín Folan – The Nurse of Inisheer Island

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

Map showing location of Lackabeg in context of Kildavin and Clongeal. Bunclody is to the south.
Doyle of Lackabeg, County Carlow

A brief report on a branch of the Doyle family settled at Lackabeg, near Kildavin and Clonegal, County Carlow, compiled by Turtle Bunbury in June 2012.

Jack Conolly (1916-2013), (farmer) Glin, Co Limerick. Photo: James Fennell.
Jack Conolly (1916-2013) – Farmer of Glin, County Limerick

‘Keep your eyes open, your legs closed and send home your money’. That was the advice Jack’s four sisters got when they left Ireland in the 1930s. Plenty of his family emigrated. ‘But you know what they say?’, he says with merry eyes. ‘The fool is always left behind’. He recalls farming at Glin Castle when the lawns were converted to tillage in the Emergency, and working with his father, a thatcher of considerable renown.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Bunbury Foster’s home at 33 Cockspur Street, London, was later home to John Dent (1790-1853), designer of Big Ben. The main bell at the Great Clock of Westminster is officially known as the Great Bell. It is, of course, better known by the nickname Big Ben, which is often mistakenly applied to the Clock Tower. The original bell was a 14.5-tonne (16 ton) hour bell, cast on 6 August 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees by John Warner & Sons. The bell was never officially named, but the legend on it records that the commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall, was responsible for the order. Another theory for the origin of the name is that the bell may have been named after a contemporary heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt. It is thought that the bell was originally to be called Victoria or Royal Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria, but that an MP suggested the nickname during a Parliamentary debate; the comment is not recorded in Hansard.
Bunbury of Killerig, County Carlow

A lesser known branch of the Irish family whose members include the mistress to one of George III's sons, one of Australia's most celebrated clockmakers, a brilliant pianist, a Victoria Cross winner and the landlord of the Yellow-Lion Inn in Carlow Town, as well as a cameo by the creator of Big Ben.

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

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

St Mary's Church of Ireland in Rathvilly, Co Carlow
Burials in Rathvilly Church, County Carlow, 1884

A list of Church of Ireland burials for Rathvilly Church from the year 1884, extracted from the Richard Corrigan Papers and transcribed by Maribeth Nolan in Nov – Dec 2012.

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.

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.

Coleman Coyne. Photo: James Fennell.
The Islanders of Kilkieran Bay – Coleman Coyne (1925-2016) and Máirtín Joyce (1935-2016)

Two Connemara islanders – one grew up on Illauneeragh, the other was the last to live on Inishbarra – reflect on their careers as fisherman and seaweed harvesters, as well as victory in the All-Ireland rowing championships.

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

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

O’Loclainn's Whiskey Bar, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare
O’Loclainn's Whiskey Bar, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

This intimate traditional bar in the tiny Burren village is one of the finest drinking establishments on the west coast. It also boasts a connoisseur's selection of whiskeys.

O'Lochlainn's Whiskey Bar
If It's Music You Want, Go To County Clare

A look at some of the best traditional music pubs in the Banner County.

John Coady (sheep farmer, 1927 -2017) Rahanna, Co. Carlow. Photo: James Fennell.
John Coady (1927-2017) – Sheep Farmer of Rahanna, County Carlow

An interview from the Vanishing Ireland archives with the Carlow sheep-farmer who looked after the mast on Mount Leinster 

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.

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.

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.

Photo: James Fennell
Jos Donnelly (1920-2016) – Farmer of the Tulla Gap, County Offaly

We chanced to meet Jos Donnelly of Ballymac, near Kinnitty and Birr, in 2005, while making the first volume of the ‘Vanishing Ireland' series. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on 7 January 2016 in his 97th year. This is a story based on our brief encounter.

Captain William McClintock Bunbury in later life.
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.

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.

Cecil Parke competes in the Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon on 
4 May 1921.
The Golden Age of Irish Tennis

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

June Anne Fitzpatrick in action.
June Ann Fitzpatrick-Byrne – Ireland’s Tennis Star of the 1940 and 1950s

The story of one of Ireland's most enigmatic sporting stars who became a household name in the 1950s.

Emily Sherlock
‘A Family’s Survival Through Troubled Times' by Anne Kearney Farrelly

A descendant of the Sherlock family of Roundhill House, Bandon, County Cork, recounts the events and consequences of a dark day in January 1923 when the house was burned and its owner, Robert Webb Sherlock, a 58-year-old Sessional Crown Solicitor, taken away at gunpoint and held hostage for three weeks.

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

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

The Comanche Warriors & the Free-Thinking Germans
The Comanche Warriors & the Free-Thinking Germans

A very tall, music-loving German aristocrat signs a treaty with the chiefs of the Penateka, or Honey Eaters, one of the fiercest bands of Comanche warriors in Texas. Under the terms of the 1847 treaty, the Germans and the Comanche agree to scratch one another’s backs in the wilds of Comancheria. The treaty transpires to be one of precious few agreements made with native Americans that was never broken. It also leads to the establishment of an extraordinary, proto-type hippy commune at Bettina settlement.

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

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

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.

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. 

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.

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 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.

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's 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.  

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.

Loyalty to Charles I would cost Sir Henry Bunbury a great deal during Cromwell's Interregnum.
Sir Henry Benjamin Bunbury (1597-1664) & the Civil War

The outbreak of the English Civil War played havoc with the head of the Bunbury family when he was stripped of his title and lands for supporting the Royalist cause during Cromwell's dictatorship, and then hurled in gaol while his house was burned down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Benson Family
The Benson Family

Originally from Westmoreland in the English Lake District, the Bensons were renowned for their clerical inclinations from the Tudor Age onwards. They were also closely associated with the Downshire Estates in Ireland and, later, the Pony Club in the UK. This history is based on an interview I conducted in about 2004 with the late Ian and Wendy Benson of Ballyvolane House County Cork.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

Music & Surf from Dingle to Doolin (2012)
Music & Surf from Dingle to Doolin (2012)

One minute I’m having a quiet pint in a charming West Kerry pub, sprawled beside …

Prague Skyline
Prague – Head Above Flood Waters (2002)

A historical ramble around the Bohemian capital of the Czech Republic, written shortly after the city was badly damaged by the worst flooding in its history.

Cambodian Adventure 2005 by Hugo Jellet
Cambodian Adventure 2005 by Hugo Jellet

It is Cambodia's misfortune to be internationally remembered for a bloody purge in the 1970s that left two million of its most intelligent citizens dead. The small Asian nation's subsequent media coverage has generally concentrated on military coups, a Communist elite, a vigorous trade in prostitution and the curious presence of Gary Glitter However, in recent years, the people have become more at ease with the idea of people visiting this captivating and largely unspoilt land.

Calanque de Sormiou
Marseilles & the Calanques, 2007

Marseilles started life as a safe haven for Greek sailors before Julius Caesar conquered it for Rome. In 1792, the city roared ‘Viva La Revolution!’ and sent 500 volunteers to defend Paris. Turtle visits the city, as well as Aubagne, the HQ for the French Foreign Legion, and the Calanques.

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.

Sheila Terry smoking a cigarette.
Smoker's Holidays

A spoof-piece commissioned in 2005 by Abroad to gain the magazine some extra inches in the Irish media.

Jasper and Pippa Cairns
The Last Minute Mayhem

A Christmas interview with Liz Cairns (née Moore) of Leicestershire, England.

Elizabeth Stack and young Santa.
Where the Jingle Bells Chime – Christmas in Albany, New York

A Christmas 2021 interview with Elizabeth Stack, executive director of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York.

Samichlaus and Schmutzli
Samichlaus and Schmutzli: A Swiss-Irish Christmas, 2021

The story of the austere Samichlaus and his unkempt, shaggy-haired sidekick, as well as the early morning madness of Schulsilvester.

Kathleen and Juliet Power
Half the joy of an Irish Christmas …

Half the joy of an Irish Christmas is the camaraderie of friends and family … an interview with John Power of the Loire Valley.

The French Alps: Flirting with the Gods
The French Alps: Flirting with the Gods

Turtle takes to the slopes of Val D'Isere and Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps.

Queen Margrethe Of Denmark
Denmark: Royal Winks & Fairy Tales

Turtle attends the bicentenary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth in Copenhagen, and fetches up being winked at by the Queen of Denmark.

John Henry Foley's Asia at the Albert Memorial.
A Review of ‘Foley's Asia' by Ronan Sheehan (1999, The Lilliput Press)

Published by Magill in October 2006, this article looks at the life of the sculptor John Henry Foley whose best known works include the Albert Memorial in London, Sir James Outram in Calcutta and various statues commemorating Daniel O'Connell, Lord Gough, Henry Grattan, Edmund Burke and Oliver Goldsmith in Dublin.

Emmet Dalton
Emmet Dalton – From the Somme to Hollywood

The story of an American-born hero of the First World War who became one of the key figures in Michael Collins' Free State army during the Civil War before going on to co-found the Ardmore Movie Studios in Bray, County Wicklow.

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

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

Claude Mocquery et James Campbell, Be bop à Saint Germain des Prés, Paris 1951 by Robert Doisneau
Paris: Love in a Be-Bop Joint, 2005.

Be-bop originated in early 1940s Harlem when the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker started to let rip in playhouses and small jazz clubs after their more formal gigs were finished. It reached Paris during World War Two and today, arguably the smoothest hotspot for a night of dancing in the city of live is Caveau de la Huchette, a jazz cellar in the Latin Quarter.

Daintree Rainforest – Australia, 2011

A ramble around the world's oldest tropical rainforest in Queensland, Australia, in the company of Juan Walker, whose great-grandmother was an aborigine from the Yalanji.

Big Bertha enjoying a pint at the Blackwater Tavern with her owner Jerome O'Leary.
Big Bertha's Wake – The Guardian, 2010

A wake for a cow in a pub in rural Ireland sounds like an episode of Father Ted. We knew we'd get no further that night

Mussenden Temple, County Derry.
Benone Strand, County Derry – The Guardian, 2010

I’ve long known that Benone Strand has supernatural qualities. That became evident one autumnal night …

Aman Resorts, Sri Lanka
Amancipate Yourself – Aman Resorts, Sri Lanka

Amanresorts, one of the world's most stylish hotel groups, has two sumptuous resorts on Sri Lanka's south coast.

Stromboli by Steven W. Dengler
Salina & the Aeolian Islands, 2006

So, Odysseus is on his way home to Ithaca to catch up with his wife who …

Above: Portrait of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald (1513-37) Lord Offaly 10th Earl of Kildare from 'Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth', published in 1825 (w/c and gouache on paper) by Essex, Sarah Countess of (d.1838)
watercolour and gouache on paper
Private Collection
The Stapleton Collection.
Silken Thomas FitzGerald's Rebellion, 1534-1536

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

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

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

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

John McClintock (1797-1879), 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.

The Palatines in Ireland
The Palatines in Ireland

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

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.      

Jim Kielty, hackney driver, 1917-2013, Ballymote, Co. Sligo
Jim Kielty (1915-2013) – Hackney Driver, Ballymote, Co. Sligo

‘Gentleman Jim’ Kielty clocked over two million accident-free miles during his 80-years behind the wheel. His father regularly drove Countess Markiewicz to political rallies in County Sligo. We were lucky enough to meet and interview Jim for the second volume of the Vanishing Ireland series. Here is the account of that meeting.

Johnny Hutchinson (1931-2021) - The Horse Coper
Johnny Hutchinson (1931-2021) – The Horse Coper

‘I remember hanging the reins up and bending down to fix a spur – and I never remember anything more.’ Such were the hazards of working with horses for the horse coper Johnny Hutchinson, the cover star of the first ‘Vanishing Ireland' book.

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.

Captain Charles Paget of HMS Samarang
Captain Charles Paget of HMS Samarang

During the 1820s, William McClintock Bunbury sailed around the coast of South America as 1st Lieutenant on board HMS Samarang to Captain Charles Paget (1806-1845), nephew of the 1st Marquess of Anglessy. Also on board was young Leopold McClintock, the future explorer, whose sister was to become Captain Paget's second wife.

Rev Alick McClintock.
Rev. Alick McClintock (1775-1836) & the Tithe War

Alick – or Alexander – McClintock was the second son of  ‘Bumper Jack' M'Clintock, of Drumcar, M.P., and his wife Patience (née Foster). In 1831, while serving as Rector of Newtownbarry (now Bunclody) in County Wexford, he became deeply embroiled in the Tithe Wars when 12 people were killed during what became known as the Battle of the Pound. 

Joe Biden’s Irish Roots
Joe Biden’s Irish Roots

Joe Biden is arguably the most ‘Irish' president to have occupied the White House. This is an ongoing exploration of his engineering forebears and his ancestral roots, including affiliated lines of the Scanlon, Blewitt, Finnegan, Arthur, Boyle and Roche families.

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

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

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

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

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

Rose Shaw was governess to the Gledstanes of Fardross House in County Tyrone during the early 20th century. When not looking after the Gledstanes children, she spent much of her time walking in the Clogher Valley, photographing local people. This page showcases 11 of her wonderful photographs.

Jerpoint Abbey, Co. Kilkenny, by Michael Foley.
Cistercian Abbeys in Ireland

The Cistercian Order originated in the Côte-d'Or of Burgundy, now France. Founded by a Benedictine abbot, they pioneered new methods of commerce, agriculture (especially the wool trade), fishing and brewing. I believe there have been 34 Cistercian abbeys in Ireland since 1142, 29 of which were established in the 12th and 13th centuries. A handful of them are still in existence today.

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.

Annie Conneely. Photo: James Fennell.
Annie Conneely (1919-2017) – Housemaid, Cloonisle, County Galway

The story of an Irish-speaking Connemara lady who was raised alongside Cloonisle Bay, near Roundstone. Annie recalled how her wily father had to start anew when his currach-rowing business collapsed with the arrival of the railway in 1895.

Bridget Aspell (1910-2014), Shop Assistant and Housewife, of Yellowbog, Kilcullen, County Kildare. Photo: James Fennell.
Bridget Aspell (1910-2014) – The Centenarian of Yellowbog

Memories of crossroads dances and the céilí, following the Kildare Hunt and going to school in the days of the Black and Tans.

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.

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

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

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

Belfast City, Northern Ireland's progressive capital, developed as a great port and industrial centre during the 18th and 19th centuries. Built around the point where the River Lagan enters Lough Neagh in the south of County Armagh, the once troubled city has a rich history and a promising future. In November 2021, Belfast was awarded prestigious UNESCO City of Music status, while the Array Collective, a Belfast-based group of artists and activists, won the 2021 Turner Prize.

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

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. Here he recalls his highs and lows, including shadow-boxing with Al “Blue” Lewis and picking orange peels off the ground as a young fellow.

Charles Kickham
Charles Joseph Kickham (1828-1882)

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

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.

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

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

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 …

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.

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

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

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

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

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.  

RMS Leinster
Sinking of the RMS Leinster, 1918

The sinking of the RMS Leinster, just one month before the end of the First World War, remains the single greatest maritime disaster on the Irish Sea. At least 550 people died when a German submarine sank the mailboat on 10 October 1918. The centenary was one of the key historical events commemorated by the Irish state in 2018.

Last Word by Tom Sykes (Irish Examiner, December 2007)

The home office is possibly civilisation’s finest invention. Especially when it’s in someone else’s home. …

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

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

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.

A Fatal Friendship - Kevin O’Higgins & Rory O’Connor
A Fatal Friendship – Kevin O’Higgins & Rory O’Connor

In 1921, Rory O’Connor stood as best man when his old friend Kevin O'Higgins married Birdie Cole in Dublin. The friendship would be torn apart with the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, during which O'Higgins gave the order for O'Connor to be executed. O'Higgins, the second most senior politician in Ireland, would be assassinated in 1927. During his last months, he was engaged in a romance with Lady Lavery. 

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.

Big Bertha enjoying a pint at the Blackwater Tavern with her owner Jerome O'Leary.
Big Bertha's Wake

A wake for a cow in a pub in rural Ireland sounds like an episode of Father Ted. We knew we'd get no further that night …

John Joe Conway
John Joe Conway (1935-2019)

The enchanting memories of a cattle farmer and horse breeder from near Kilfenora, County Clare, who featured him in the third ‘Vanishing Ireland’ book. With an utterly fabulous gift of the gab, he recalls a series of terrifying run-ins with bulls, the ‘drudgery' that made women emigrate and his day out with Pope John Paul II.

Danny Cullen, photographed by James Fennell.
Danny Cullen (1920-2009) of Letterkenny, Co. Donegal – The Haulier

An interview with a haulier from Letterkenny, from the Vanishing Ireland series, who started working as a haulier with a donkey and cart in 1931, with some insights into the mysterious pain-relieving qualities of the Green Scapula.

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.'

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

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

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.

Photo: James Fennell.
Eileen Hall (1924-2021) – Keeper of the Sweet Shop

From the Vanishing Ireland archive, memories of an encounter with the late Mrs Hall, who ran a much loved sweetshop between Clones and Newbliss in County Monaghan.

Photo: James Fennell
Eugene Brady – The Pumpkin Man of County Longford

‘1995 was the year Kerry won the All-Ireland, but it was also the year we won the Pumpkin of the Year. And I tell you, there was more carry on about that pumpkin than there was over Kerry winning the Sam Maguire’. A classic from the ‘Vanishing Ireland' archive about a farmer from Camagh, Abbeylara, Co Longford.

Photo: James Fennell.
Edward Hayes (1924-2012) – Houseman & Butler

The fascinating memories of a butler and houseman who worked in various ‘Big Houses' in Ireland during the 1950s-1980s, including Lisnavagh, from the Vanishing Ireland archive.

Eamonn King (b. 1937, Cattle Farmer & Horse Breeder) - Farravaun, Glann, Oughterard, County Galway. Photo: James Fennell.
Eamonn King (b. 1937) – Cattle Farmer & Horse Breeder – Oughterard, County Galway.

‘I’m all my life trying to improve the land, God help me’, says Eamonn. ‘All my life digging for gold, but I’ve not found it yet.' The recollections of a cattle farmer and horse breeder from Farravaun, Glann, Oughterard, County Galway, from the Vanishing Ireland archives.

Willy O’Reilly (1914-2010) of Belmullet, Co. Mayo.
Pat Rua & Willy Reilly – Fishermen of Belmullet

The Reilly brothers of Glenlara, Belmullet, Co. Mayo, recall a dreadful storm in 1927 in which 45 young fishermen died, including two of their brothers. It was the end of an era for the islands of Inishkea where the dead men came from.

 ‘I like music but I don’t play or sing. I listen.’ Photo: James Fennell.
Jack Longeran (1930-2020) – General Factotum of St Joseph’s Industrial School, County Tipperary

An interview from the Vanishing Ireland archives with the man from Tickinor, County Tipperary who served as general maintenance man of St. Joseph’s Industrial School outside Clonmel.

Donal Duffy (1920-2007) - Ravensdale Piper & London Exile
Donal Duffy (1920-2007) – Ravensdale Piper & London Exile

For over forty years, Donal Duffy has been popping through a hole in an old stonewall by his home near Ravensdale, County Louth, into a magical riverside glade of stately beech, honeysuckle, glacial boulders and rushing waters. In part, this habit stems from his keen paternal interest in forestry. But the real method in Donal’s madness becomes apparent when he unveils his pipes and gets down to some serious practice. One wonders what the local bird population makes of it. From the Vanishing Ireland archives.

Noel Robinson – Farmer of Coole
Noel Robinson – Farmer of Coole

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 Mathis  – The Thatcher of Annagassan, Co Louth
John Mathis – The Thatcher of Annagassan, Co Louth

‘I was never over the water’, he says. ‘I was hardly in the water either, mind. I’m afraid of the sea’. An interview with County Louth thatcher John Mathis from the Vanishing Ireland archives.

Photo: James Fennell
Tom Sheehan (1931-2017), Schoolteacher & Actor, County Kerry

The former schoolteacher from Kilbaha, Moyvane, County Kerry, reflects on corporal punishment, turf gathering, amateur dramatics and family links to Kansas and Chicago. A story from the ‘Vanishing Ireland' archives.

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

An interview from the Vanishing Ireland series with the late Liam O'Shea, blacksmith, of the Lauragh Forge, Killarney, Co Kerry, touching on his father's experiences in Manhattan and the days when the forge was the hub of the community. 

The Murphys of Ballymurphy
The Murphys of Ballymurphy

An interview with Simon Murphy (1929-2015) & Jimmy Murphy (1934-2018), the cover stars of the fourth Vanishing Ireland book, about their life as cattle and sheep farmers in the Blackstairs mountains above Ballymurphy, County Carlow. ‘I go up the mountain every day,’ says Jimmy. ‘A couple of hours or more. It takes that time to straighten it all out, start in the morning, go see this, see that, but sure I was always at it, do you know?

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

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

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.

Alan II (c. 900–952) was Count of Vannes, Poher and Nantes, and Duke of Brittany from 938 to his death. He was the grandson of King Alan the Great by Alan's daughter and her husband Mathuedoï I, Count of Poher. He expelled the Vikings/Norsemen from Brittany after an occupation that lasted from 907 to about 939.
De la Poer (Power) of County Waterford

Tracking the history of the de la Poer or Power dynasty, reputedly from Brittany, who became prominent in Ireland in the medieval period (despite some hefty criminals in the clan) and fetched up as Earls of Tyrone, a title that passed by marriage to the Beresford family of Curraghmore, now headed up by the Marquess of Waterford.

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.

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

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

Abraham Watchorn
Abraham Watchorn (1894-1916) & the Easter Rising

The flames of the Easter Rising fanned right into Rathvilly, County Carlow, with the death of 21-year-old Private Abraham Watchorn, 5th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was killed in action in Dublin on Easter Wednesday, 26 April 1916.

Maud Gonne
Maud Gonne – ‘The Adulterous Muse'

A look at Adrain Frazer's fascinating biography, ‘The Adulterous Muse: Maude Gonne, Lucien Millevoye & W.B. Yeats’ (Lilliput, 2016) about one of the most charismatic women of the Irish revolutionary period.

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

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

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

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

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 .

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

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

The Life & Death of Ned Kelly
The Life & Death of Ned Kelly

Outlaw, cattle rustler, bank robber, gunman, Ned Kelly’s story epitomises the struggle by first and second generation Irish Catholics to establish themselves in British-run Australia. It's a story that begins in the Golden Vale of South Tipperary when Ned's father found himself on the wrong side of the law. Ned's skeleton was discovered in 2011 and reburied in consecrated ground in 2013. A Netflix series is surely on the way …

SS Dresden in 1915, painting by A. J. Jansen
An Argentine Tale: The Dresden Affair of 1889

In 1889, SS Dresden docked in Buenos Aires with the largest number of passengers ever to arrive in Argentina from any one destination on a single vessel. Most of the 1,774 immigrants on board were Irish. The arrival of the ship was to prove one of the most miserable events in the history of Irish emigration.

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

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

Susan 'Peggy' Butler
Butler Gallery, Kilkenny

The duty of the arts to bring inspiration and good cheer to the people. Opened in a new venue in 2020, Butler Gallery in Kilkenny is the biggest addition to rural Ireland’s cultural portfolio in recent times. The gallery is named for Peggy Butler, whose husband Hubert Butler is the subject of the Netflix documentary ‘Witness to the Future’. In November 2021, Butler Gallery was awarded a prestigious Architecture MasterPrize in the Restoration + Renovation category for the work undertaken by McCullough Mulvin Architects.

The Irish Sweep
The Irish Sweep

The Irish Hospitals Sweepstake ran from 1930 to 1987 and raised the equivalent of €170 million for the Irish health service, creating a network of over 400 hospitals, clinics and medical centres across Ireland. It also made its three founding directors extremely rich, albeit with a little systematic insider dealing from time to time, while some of the profits went directly to the Irish Republican Army. Small wonder the Reader's Digest declared the Sweep ‘the greatest bleeding heart racket in the world’.

In 2018, select Irish cinemas presented a screening ‘Citizen Lane’, an acclaimed docudrama directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, written by Mark O’Halloran and starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as the gentleman art dealer and collector. The drama is intercut with interviews from contemporary documentary contributors such as Professors Roy Foster, Paul Rouse Robert O’Byrne and Morna O'Neill, author of ‘Decorative Politics and Direct Pictures: Hugh Lane and the Global Art Market, 1900-15’. The film is now available to buy or rent on YouTube here.
Sir Hugh Lane (1875-1915)

When the Lusitania was torpedoed in World War One, it spelled the end for one of the most intriguing figures in modern Irish history and his dream to build a modern art gallery that spanned the River Liffey in Dublin City. In the art world, Hugh Lane’s opinion was considered so important that paintings reputedly went up in value if he so much as looked at them. His legacy lives on through his bequest of 39 great Impressionist paintings, including works by Monet, Renoir and Manet, which were unwittingly left to the National Gallery, London but now shared with the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.

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

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

A miniature portrait of Daniel Robertson, painted in Charleston in 1793 by Peter Henry, or Pierre
Daniel Robertson, an American Architect in Ireland

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

The boy king Edward VI, from a portrait I saw at Hever Castle.
Sir Henry Sidney – Lord Deputy of Ireland (1565 – 1578)

Flodden to Penshurst Sir Henry’s father William Sidney was one of Henry VIII’s courtiers, born …

A close up of the Earl of Sussex, Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queens Mary and Elizabeth Tudor.
Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex – Lord Deputy of Ireland (1556-1565)

A short account of the man who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Mary Tudor and her sister Queen Elizabeth.

Cattle Farmers & Copper Miners – The Butlers of Ballyglasheen, Co Tipperary & the Harringtons of Milleens, Co Cork

This is the story of two families who inter-married in the 20th century. One is a branch of the Butler dynasty, a family of Norman origin, who settled in County Tipperary during the 16th century and became one of the leading cattle farming families of Tipperary Town by the advent of the War of Independence. The other is an off-shoot of the Harrington family of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork who made their way from Eyeries, via the copper mines of Montana and the silver mines of Colorado, to the verdant pastures of Tipperary where they too turned to cattle farming.

Above: John Bull (right) and a hideous old man (left) with a grotesque profile and small wings sprouting from his shoulders face each other, their heads in profile. 'Corruption' has a disk on his cheek inscribed An Eye to Interest, his snout-like nose is A Scent for Interest, his gaping jaw A Mouth of Guile. His wings are Wings of Speculation; his arms, Arms of Power. He has (large) Pockets of Perquisites, and wears a Collar of Corruption. He has Legs of Luxury and Feet of Connivance. In each hand (inscribed Hands of Extortion) is a money-bag. He says to John: What you say about Reform Jhonny is very true,—but this is not the time for it. John answers angrily: No nor it never will be—while such a Monster as you remain in existence!!! He is a fat 'cit' with an ill-fitting wig.' (28 May 1809.)
Corrupt Banking in Victorian Ireland

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

Clonmelsh is the burying ground of Walt DIsney's ancestors.
Headstone Inscriptions for Clonmelsh Church (Church of Ireland) Carlow

Clonmelsh Church (Church of Ireland) is located just under 10 kms from Carlow Town, near Tinryland, not far from Milford Cross, on a side road off the L3050, and includes the Butler, Disney, Hill, St Leger, Cole and Long families amongst others. These inscriptions from the Richard Corrigan Papers were kindly transcribed by Maribeth Nolan, 2012.

The abbey in Castledermot.
Castledermot Tenants

A list of the main tenants of Castledermot would have paid the rent to the Earl of Kildare, and the subtenants who paid the rent to them.

St Columba's, Tullow
Tullow Marriages (Church of Ireland) from the Richard Corrigan Papers

Marriage records for Tullow, County Carlow. These were presented to me by the late Richard Corrigan of Garretsttown House, Rathvilly, County Carlow, and transcribed by Trevor Clowry in October 2012.

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

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

"Lebensunwertes Leben" (Life Unworthy of Life) was Helnwein's game-changing protest against Austria's number one forensic psychiatrist, the former euthanasia doctor, Dr. Gross.
Vive la Difference!

Thoughts on Ireland inspired by a meeting with the artist Gottfried Helnwein and a public apology to Hubert Butler. (2001)

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

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

Bunbury Bridge on the Barrow Navigation between Athy and Carlow.
Garden of Ireland: A Tour of Carlow, Wicklow & Kildare (2000, Archive)

This article was written in the year 2000 for a light-hearted travel website … the places covered in the text are Dublin – Bray – Powerscourt – Kilpeddar – Kilcoole – (Rathnew / Wicklow) – Roundwood – Glendalough – Ashford – Avoca – Shillelagh – Tinahely – Kiltegan – Baltinglass – Rathvilly – Lisnavagh – Rathgall – Tullow – Myshall – Bagenalstown – Leighlinbridge – Borris – St. Mullins – Carlow – Castledermot – National Stud – Japanese Gardens – The Curragh – Lullymore – Kildare.

Noah's Granddaughter & the Irish Salmon of Knowledge
Noah's Granddaughter & the Irish Salmon of Knowledge

A consideration of Ireland's 11th century ‘Book of Invasions’ with its stories of Noah's granddaughter, the Formorians, the Tuatha de Danaan, Partholón and the Milesians … and whether or not it is all codswallop.

New Shoes, Christmas 1946 - Am Himmel Orphanage, Vienna, Austria 
New Shoes, Christmas 1946 – Am Himmel Orphanage, Vienna, Austria 

Gerald Waller's wonderful photograph of a six-year-old Austrian orphan called Werfel, moments after he received a new pair of shoes donated by the Red Cross. 

Patrick W. Finn of Drummond House (1843-1903).
Finn of Drummond, St Mullins, County Carlow

The story of the Finn family who have lived in the townland o f Drummin, near St. Mullins, Co. Carlow, since at least the 18th century. William Finn served with the United Irishmen in 1798, while his son John, a farmer, assisted the Poor Law Commissioners in the 1830s. John's son Pat was a forester who worked with Arthur McMurrough Kavanagh of Borris House, as well as a master of the divining rod. This history also encompasses local families such as Murphy, Keefe, Ryan Doyle, Rorke, Walsh, O’Neill, Phelan, Gladney and Corcoran.

It was Michael Cotter’s belief that the Murphy brothers had been defended in court by Daniel O’Connell, the great Catholic Emancipator. However, extensive searches through the newspapers of this time failed to produce any evidence of this. It is also unlikely given that O’Connell was staunchly opposed to the Whiteboys; he described them as 'miscreants' and urged for them to be wiped out.
Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) – The Liberator

An overview of one of the most towering figures in Irish history, a pioneer of pacifism through his monster meetings, and winner of emancipation for the top level of Catholics in Irish society. This story commences with his role in a deadly duel, a fatal event that haunted him for the remainder of his life.

Buchinger's self-portrait from 1724.
Matthias Buchinger (1674-1739) – A Most Astonishing German in Ireland

The mind-bending tale of a German magician, musician and master of calligraphy who spent twenty years in Ireland, probably inspiring Jonathan Swift’s Lilliputians, and died in Cork, yet never grew higher than twenty-nine inches.

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

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

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

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

Father Edwin Fitzgibbon & Doctor George Sigerson: The Monk & The Poet
Father Edwin Fitzgibbon & Doctor George Sigerson: The Monk & The Poet

The story behind Dr George Sigerson and Father Edwin Fitzgibbon, whose trophies are competed for annually by the top division GAA teams from the Higher Education. The two men were of a decidedly intellectual bent but, until recently, their work and influence has been almost completely overlooked.

A sketch of William McClintock Bunbury as he would later become, by William Smyth, the future admiral. Beneath it is written:
‘My old messmate in Samarang. Wm Bunbury McClintock. 1834.'
Given that Smyth's sketch book is only 15cm by 9cm, the detail is excellent. (Courtesy of John McClintock, Redhall).
Captain Bunbury's Diary for 1847

A transcription of a diary written by Captain William McClintock Bunbury, MP for Carlow, during 1847, the worst year of the Great Hunger, as well as the year in which work began on the new house at Lisnavagh. 

Barack Obama as a teenage high schooler in Hawaii.
Obama: A Tale of Irish Wigmakers, Shoemakers & Oratorical Bishops

Barack Obama descends from an Irish shoemaker who emigrated to Ohio in 1850 when the family wig-making business dissolved in Ireland. This story looks at his unlikely links to the Kearney dynasty, one of whom was Provost of Trinity College Dublin, as well as the de Montmorency family of Castle Morres, County Kilkenny.

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

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

Photo: James Fennell.
Brendan Drewett (1933-2020) & Joe Waldron (b. 1933) – The Boxer & the Painter

‘There were three of us that were friends at school,’ says Brendan. ‘Myself, Joe and another lad, Donal Reid, who lives in England now. Figgy 1, Figgy 2 and Figgy 3. That’s what they called us.’

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

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

Henry Grattan
Henry Grattan's Failure

A review of Danny Mansergh's book, “Grattan's Failure: Parliamentary Opposition and the People in Ireland, 1779-1800” (2005, Irish Academic Press), published by Magill in August 2005.

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

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

The Swifts of County Westmeath

FOREWORD In January 2012, I set out to fill an ongoing gap in written knowledge …

The Bog Commission, 1809

How Napoleon Bonaparte inadvertently inspired a project to grow hemp in Irish bogs, resulting in 50 invaluable maps and 4 comprehensive reports on the extent and nature of over one million acres of Irish bogland.

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 gang-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.

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 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

Photo: James Fennell
Feudal Blues – In Praise of Betty Scott

Since I was a tot, I’ve loved a lass called Betty Scott. She always sends …

John Concannon & the Grapes of Mexico

A short account of the Aran Islander who revolutionised the wine industry in Mexico.

Sea ice deformation features in the Lincoln Sea, near Hand Bay, in north of Greenland, pictured in 2014.
Jim Hand (1847-1876) Polar Explorer

A brief account of a polar explorer from Bray who never came home, and whose memory is enshrined in the name of Greenland's Hand Bay.

Close up of illustration of the Crimean Banquet from the Illustrated London News, 1856.
Dublin's CHQ Building: An Epic Past

At the World Travel Awards in 2021, EPIC, the Irish emigration museum, broke a new record when it became the first visitor attraction to be voted as Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction award three times in a row. This is the remarkable story of the Liffey-side building in which the museum is located. 

Jane Acton was a sister of Sir Lawrence Parsons, 3rd Baronet, of Birr Castle.
Acton of Kilmacurragh, County Wicklow

Now part of a magnificent National Botanic Gardens adjunct, Kilmacurragh was built by the Acton family during the reign of Queen Anne. In the 1850s, the forward-thinking Actons planted an arboretum that is now in peak condition with the greatest collection of Himalayan rhododendrons in Europe. However, two generations later, the death of all three Acton brothers in war spelled an end for the dynasty. Charles Acton, its last survivor, was one of Ireland’s greatest music critics in the 20th century. In 2021, plans were announced to restore the Queen Anne mansion.

Monuments to the Stuart kings in the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
Dublin 8 – A Neighbourhood to Appreciate

A whistle-stop guide to the sights and sounds of Dublin 8, the Liffey-side neighbourhood that was voted 15th Coolest in the World in 2021.

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.

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

The stories of the poet laureate who asked Paddy Kavanagh to be a spy, a 1,200 year old Round Tower, a gentleman farmer who drove across Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge, a plethora or writers and boxers, and a devastating explosion at a gunpowder mill. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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

The stories of the inventor of the torpedo, a global prima donna, a telephone pioneer, the short-lived Republic of Connacht, the inglorious Races of Castlebar, the rise and fall of the Earls of Lucan, and a gentleman who went to the gallows. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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

The stories of a man born without limbs who became an explorer, as well as the Czech engineer who invented the water-bike, the murder of a Hollywood director, the prince of Antwerp who made Carlow his home, the crazy doctor who blew up Carlow Castle and the mystery of one of the world’s biggest ancient monuments. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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

The stories of a multi-millionaire opera singer, a remarkable Georgian lady, an ancient highway, the most powerful politician in 20th century Ireland, a Sunday morning assassination and how the Radisson Blu was once given as a prize to a victorious general. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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

The stories of the Earls of Clancarty (who liked UFOs, dancing girls and redrawing the map of Europe), as well as a prominent Australian photographer, a Hollywood star from the 1930s, the battle of Aughrim and one of Europe's oldest fairs. Extracted from Past Tracks 2021, with Irish translations by Jack O'Driscoll.

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.

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

The stories of a Victoria Cross winning drummer boy, a world heavyweight boxing champ, a deadly hurricane, the Earls of Athlone, Count John McCormack, and a brilliant bandmaster who performed at the inauguration of six US presidents. Extracted from Past Tracks, 2021. Irish translation included.

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

The stories of the Arklow munitions factory, a 1920s party animal, an Olympic Gold medal winner, a spy called Agent ZigZag, a lady mariner, and an old world cure for Charles Stewart Parnell's wounded hand. Extracted from Past Tracks, 2021. Irish translation included.

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

The stories of a best-selling novelist, Governor of North Carolina, a terrifying hurricane, a giant cake, ‘The Fields of Athenry’ song and a woman who refused to eat. Extracted from Past Tracks, 2021. Irish translation included.

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. 

Adam Buck (1760–1833) - Maestro of the Georgian Miniature
Adam Buck (1760–1833) – Maestro of the Georgian Miniature

Born in Cork in 1760, Adam Buck was one of the finest neo-classical portrait and miniature painters of the Georgian Age. Known for his watercolour portraits during the Regency era, with neo-classical backdrops, his works are a perfect complement to the world depicted in the novels of Jane Austen. This is the story of a remarkable Irishman who pushed the erotic buttons of Georgian art.

Thomas Bunbury of Kill's diary.
The Diary of Thomas Bunbury of Kill (1754 – 1774)

A full transcript of a diary kept by Thomas Bunbury of Kill. He started this small brown leather diary on 13 November 1754. It continues sporadically until his own death twenty years later. Thomas was the son of William Bunbury I of Lisnavagh and father of William Bunbury, MP, of Lisnavagh, and grandfather of Jane McClintock. 

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.

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.

"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.

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, John Grenham

By Turtle Bunbury John Grenham has been pioneering genealogical research for, well, it’s getting close …

G.B Yeats & George Yeats – The Letters, Edited by Ann Saddlemeyer (Oxford University Press, 2011)

IRISH DAILY MAIL (APRIL 2011) ‘We poets would die of loneliness but for women, and …

The Castrato & His Wife, by Helen Berry (OUP, 2011)

THE IRISH DAILY MAIL (OCTOBER 2011) By Turtle Bunbury Cork City, August 1766. The Italian …

Birthright – The Story that Inspired Kidnapped, Roger Ekirch

As he was pushed through the doors of The George on Dublin’s Bow-Lane, the boy …

Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie, Victoria Glendinning

IRISH DAILY MAIL (FEBRUARY 2009) In the spring of 1973, Charles Ritchie was at dinner …

Yesterday We Were in America (The Alcock & Brown Story), Brendan Lynch

IRISH DAILY MAIL (MAY 2009) Harry Sullivan twitched his ears. What on earth was that? …

Being Anglo-Irish – A Hyphenated Existence? [Dubliner, 06/01]

The best thing about being Anglo-Irish is that you can get away with just about …

The Importance of Being Bunbury [Dubliner, 08/01]

This column appeared in The Dubliner in August 2001. Everybody wants to be a Bunbury. …

My Father & Other Animals [Dubliner, 09/01]

This article was written as a tribute to the Veterinary Paddock in the Dublin Horse …

An Ode to Pagan Days [Dubliner, 10/01]

This Halloween-flavoured column featured in The Dubliner in October 2001. Perhaps it’s the time of …

The ‘Emancipator of Jamaica' [Dubliner, 12/01]

This column appeared in The Dubliner in December 2001. Jesse James was a Kerryman. (*) …

Love & Marriage [The Dubliner, 02/02]

This column appeared in The Dubliner in February 2002. It’s probably a grave insult to …

Hells Bells!

This column was written for March 2002 and did not appear in The Dubliner … …

Life is a Frying Pan [BC Magazine, 04/97]

This article featured in Hong Kong’s BC Magazine in April 1997. Picture this. A squadron …

The Pearly Gates [BC Mag, 05/97]

This article featured in Hong Kong’s BC Magazine in May 1997. The idea of joining …

Samuel Clayton: Forger, Freemason, Freeman' by Margaret Smith (Anchor Books, 2017)

Commission Court, Dublin, 1815. Samuel Clayton did not look much like a criminal. Standing just …

‘The Alamo’s Forgotten Defenders – The Remarkable Story of the Irish during the Texan Revolution’ by Dr Philip Thomas Tucker (Savas Beattie, California, 2016).

San Jacinto, Texas, 21 April 1836. The ambush was brilliantly executed and devastatingly quick. It …

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

The Abbey Theatre has long claimed to be the cradle of the Irish revolution and …

‘Between Two Flags – John Mitchel and Jenny Verner’ by Anthony G. Russell (Merrion Press, 2015).

By Anthony G Russell ‘I feel better this morning’, remarked John Mitchel to his brother. …

‘Captain Jack White: Imperialism, Anarchism and the Irish Citizen Army’ by Leo Keohane (Merrion Press, 2014).

‘Captain Jack White: Imperialism, Anarchism and the Irish Citizen Army’ by Leo Keohane (Merrion Press, …

The Real Mary Kelly: Jack the Ripper's Fifth Victim and the Identity of the Man That Killed Her' by Wynne Weston-Davies (Blink Publishing, 2016).

9 November 1888. Another day, another dead prostitute in London’s East End. This time the …

The Decline and Fall of the Dukes of Leinster 1872-1948 by Terence Dooley (Four Courts Press, 2014).

Those who knew the Duchess of Leinster best had probably envisioned an early demise. Before …

‘The Pillar – The Life and Afterlife of the Nelson Pillar’ by Donal Fallon (2014)

O’Connell Street, March 8th, 1966. 1:30am. Admiral Horatio Nelson fell to the street with such …

Who Killed Honor Bright? How William Butler & George Yeats Caused the Fall of the Irish Free State, by Patricia Hughes.

At 7:30 am on 9th June 1925, a timber carter strolling past the Ticknock crossroads …

Knox D'Arcy -Mayo's Oil Tycoon

As he inspected the wells and rigs of his vast oil fields in Persia (Iran), …

Mrs. Lambert – The American who Conquered Europe

Evelyn Kelly Lambert is at it again. The guests are seated in small, intimate groups, …

Vikings Ahoy!

This article featured in Visitor Magazine in August 2005. Today is Odin’s Dag. Tomorrow is …

Villages at a Crossroads

More than three centuries after Oliver Goldsmith wrote The Deserted Village, our small communities are …

John Conroy – Was Queen Victoria's father an Irishman? – Irish Daily Mail.

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

The Origins of Dublin's Pigeonhouse – Irish Daily Mail.

As the sun slowly glided across the Dublin mountain’s in the autumn of 1786, Mary …

Ballroom Floor Gloss – The Irish Times Magazine

As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday April 5th 2008. The Irish Ballroom. Whether …


As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday April 26th 2008. STRUWWELPETER: MERRY STORIES AND …

Hydrogen Man [ITM, 07/08]

As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday July 12th 2008. IN APRIL 2008, a …

A Wily Fox [ITM, 07/08]

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

Baltinglass Solstice [ITM, 06/08]

As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday June 21st 2008. About 120 generations ago, …

The Diving Bell [ITM, 06/08]

As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday June 14th 2008. Strolling along Sir John …

Picart's Ceremonies [ITM, 05/08]

As featured in The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday May 17th 2008. PICART’S RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES – …

Silence of The Bonfires [Dubliner, 02/01]

This column originally appeared in the first issue of The Dubliner in February 2001. 191 …

A Sense of Purpose [Dubliner, 05/01]

This column was written six months before the strike on New York. It first appeared …

On the Lobster Trail in Nova Scotia – Abroad.

It’s 8:00 on a hot Tuesday morning in July. ‘And how are you folks making …

At home on the Aeolian Islands – Abroad.

So, Odysseus is on his way home to Ithaca to catch up with his wife …

The Bridges of Dublin City – August 2009

Dublin Bridge is falling down, falling down, my fair lady. At least, that’s the worrying …

Lily Allen & the Artane Band – August 2009

It will, without doubt, be one of the proudest days in the history of Scotshouse. …

Croke Park Rodeo of 1924 – July 2009

THE TEX AUSTIN RODEO It is nearly 90 years since Croke Park hosted Tex Austin’s …

Bartholomew Mosse & the Rotunda – April 2009

For a brief moment on the evening of 13 April 1742, there was silence in …

Aill na Caillí – The Deserted Village of Connemara

Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 28 March 2009 ‘To look at it now, you’d think no …

A Pint Sized History of the Irish Pub

This article was published in Failte magazine in April 2007. The inhabitants of Ireland have …

A Word of Warning – March 2004 (unpublished)

Any day now, the seven largest cities in America are going to be destroyed by …

Ballintemple: Ancient World, Ancient Fish

Sir Richard Butler’s successful restoration of his family’s ancestral riverside estate at Ballintemple, County Carlow, …

Bob Dylan – Kilkenny 2001

This article featured in The Kilkenny People. The big question was could the old codger …

Castles in the Sky

This article featured in Cara magazine in the February – March 2007 edition. A Potted …

Clobber Slobber! Is the Global Media Failing Us?

This article was written following a talk at the Trinity College Philosophical Scoiety in June …

Croquet – The Forgotten Irish Sport

This article was commissioned in August 2004 by the Carrickmines Croquet & Lawn Tennis Club. …

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

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

Too Close to Closing Time for Irish Pub – Nov 2008

Turtle Bunbury ponders the fate of the Irish pub on the launch of his new …

The Wine Geese & the Grapes of Ireland

This article featured in Cara magazine in June 2007. image title The Clare Valley in …

Ireland in the Blood

This article featured in Cara, the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine, in February – March 2008. …

Jasper Conran – A Crystal for All Seasons

This article featured in ‘The White Book’ in February 2006. “I’m gonna love you Like …

Spike Island & Australian Convicts of 1847 – July 2011

BY TURTLE BUNBURY September 1847. The harvest moon glowed high above the Slieve Bloom mountains …

The Mystery of Guy Pinfield – March 2011

Dublin, April 25th 1916. Francis Sheehy-Skeffington could see that the British officer was still alive. …

Final Call for the Fry Model Railway – Feb 2011

(Irish Daily Mail, 26 February 2011) By Turtle Bunbury Maedb assertively chugged her way through …

Big House Hospitality, Hidden Ireland – Feb 2011

Turtle Bunbury The full feature article is to be found in the February & March …

Graham Greene's Achill Affair – Feb 2011

By Turtle Bunbury (Irish Daily Mail, 4th February 2011) Graham Greene could hardly say the …

The Lost Letters of William Orpen – Jan 2011

Major William Orpen mopped his muddy brow and clenched his paintbrush. The 29-year-old artist from …

The Ale that Made Vikings Roar – Oct 2010

Irish Daily Mail, Monday 18 October 2010 A huge cast iron cauldron smoulders over a …

A Monumental Tour of Ireland – The Australian.

Turtle Bunbury – The Australian, December 04, 2010 IRELAND’S sculptural legacy plunges deeply into an …

The Annesley Abuduction: The Story that inspired ‘Kidnapped' – Irish Daily Mail

As he was pushed through the doors of The George on Dublin’s Bow-Lane, the boy …

Brandy & the Battle of the Boyne – June 2010

Despite the grey mist that hovered above the banks of the Boyne that hot July …

The San Patricios of 1847 – March 2010

This week [8th March 2010] sees the release ‘San Patricio’, an extraordinary and beautiful concept …

Dermot Morgan's Family History – Sept 2009

Anyone who has listened to ‘Scrap Saturday’ or watched ‘Father Ted’ can appreciate the genius …

The Story of Arthur Guinness – Sept 2009

In Dublin there’s a beauty that has no match, It is brewed in St. James’s …

The Fastnet Tragedy – August 2009

As they listened to the BBC shipping forecast that afternoon, Kevin Burke and his fellow …

Sad Demise of the Rural Pub – August 2009

Turtle Bunbury remarks on the latest figures from the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI )in …

Ernest Shackleton – Irish Examiner.

A review of the National Geographic’s episode of Ice Patrol entitled ‘Shackelton’s Island’ which screened …

The German Boy & the Irish Soldier – May 2012

Heinz Johannsen is on a mission. He wants you to help him find an Irishman …

Australia & Titanic – April 2012

Southampton, 10th April 1912. Harry Sutehall lit another cigarette, glanced up at the clock and …

South Africa & Titanic – April 2012

By Turtle Bunbury Mail & Guardian, South Africa, 13 April 2012 Southampton, 10th April 1912. …

Who Sank Titanic? – April 2012

By Turtle Bunbury Within hours of Titanic’s sinking, the blame game had begun. The immediate …

Violet Jessop, Ultimate Survivor – April 2012

By Turtle Bunbury In the moments before the Titanic struck the iceberg, 24-year-old stewardess Violet …

Ireland & the Titanic – March 2012

By Turtle Bunbury (February 2012) Shortly before noon on a Thursday 11th April 1912, the …

Mrs. Nixon, the First Lady from Mayo – March 2012

By Turtle Bunbury Ballygarris Cross, Co. Mayo, Sunday 2nd October 1970. Katie Naughton watched the …

The Man Behind Albert Nobbs – Feb 2012

By Turtle Bunbury With Glenn Close and the ‘Albert Nobbs’ movie winging its way towards …

William Deane Tanner – A Hollywood Murder Story – Feb 2012

William Desmond Taylor was 49 years old when the bullet that killed him ploughed into …

The Sultan & the Relief of Drogheda – Feb 2012

By Turtle Bunbury Drogheda, 1847. The gas-lit harbour lights burned through the dusk as the …

Random Strolls & Black 29: My Time in Monaco – Feb 2012
A Long Way to Tipperary – Jan 2012

THE MAN WHO WROTE ‘TIPPERARY’ As the curtains parted in Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre on the …

Sir Richard Burton & the History of Sex (Playboy) – Nov 2011

By Turtle Bunbury An illustrated version of this article appeared in Playboy magazine in November …

Sylvia Drew's Remarkable Albums (The World of Interiors) – Sept 2011

By Turtle Bunbury (This article appeared in The World of Interiors, September 2011) In my …

George IV's bawdy trip to Ireland in 1821 – Aug 2011

‘Harris, I am not well, fetch me a brandy.’ Such was George IV’s inauspicious reaction …

Discovering my Roots – Aug 2011

Irish Daily Mail, August 2011 (Updated, June 2019) In 1986, The Bee Gees and Eric …

Tenement Life on Dublin's Henrietta Street – Aug 2011

BY TURTLE BUNBURY As she reached the ground floor, ten-year-old May Malone looked back up …

A Short History of Mountjoy Square – August 2014

Nobody was quite sure why Luke Gardiner, 1st Viscount Mountjoy, took it into his head …

200 Years of the GPO – August 2014

Many things about the housekeeper at the General Post Office were remarkable. Take, for instance, …

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – June 2014

10:55am, 28 June 1914. Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina. “Sophie, Sophie! Don’t die! Live for our children!” …

Noah's Irish Family – April 2014

The ship that arrived into Bantry Bay carried three men and fifty women. The voyage …

The Big Houses of Ireland – April 2014 (National Geographic Traveler)
Ireland and the Spanish Civil War – March 2014

By Turtle Bunbury Lopera, Southern Spain, 28th December 1936. The Irishmen were making their way …

The Irish Family who founded Rayne's Shoes – March 2014

Rayne is back. That was the resounding message for shoe-lovers of the world with the …

Australia's Irish Royalty: Jim & Sarah Scullin – Feb 2014

On Sunday February 16th 1864, Michael McNamara stepped ashore in Melbourne, Australia. The eighteen year …

The Curious Case of the Connemara Grave – Jan 2014

Inveran, County Galway, Ireland Plymouth, Devon, England Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland Killanin & Costello Bay, …

The Life & Times of Rosie Hackett – Sept 2013

By Turtle Bunbury In September 2013, Dublin City Council voted to name the newest bridge …

A Potted History of Trim Castlee – March 2013

By Turtle Bunbury This island is awash with castles, arising every which way you look …

Merrion Square 250 – Sept 2012

In 1792, the Liffey rose so high that the tidal waters smashed through the riverside …

Cork City Gaol – August 2012

It was, declared Constance Markiewicz, quite the most comfortable prison she had yet stayed in. …

Inside the Freemasons Hall – August 2012

When the Grand Lodge of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Freemasons of Ireland moved into …

Going Underground in Dublin – August 2012

By Turtle Bunbury On 3rd August 2012, two men were reported to have vanished down …

Asgard & the Howth Gun-Run – August 2012

By Turtle Bunbury Shortly before noon on the hot, blue-skied Sunday morning in July 1914, …

Michelle Obama's Irish ancestry – August 2012

By Turtle Bunbury For many of us, our main understanding of the American South, slavery …

The Gunning Sisters & the Fatality of Lead – June 2012

Croome Park, Worcestershire, October 1761. The dark room stank of death and poison as the …

There Was an Old Man Called Edward Lear – May 2012

By Turtle Bunbury As he plunged his quill into the inkpot, Edward Lear exhaled contentedly. …

The Irish Times Magazine – A three page interview with Turtle and his ‘Vanishing Ireland' colleague James Fennell by Miriam Mulcahy. (November 2009).
The Sunday Tribune – An exploration of the motives behind the Vanishing Ireland project by Claire O'Mahony. (October 2009).
BBC World – Turtle provides the BBC's Mark Simpson with some key thoughts on the fate of the Irish pub. (October 2008).
The Irish Independent – An interview with Turtle by Barbara Harding entitled ‘The Time Traveller'. (April 2008).
Ireland in the Roman Age- March 2020
Meghan Markle's Irish Roots – December 2017

You’d be forgiven for thinking Meghan is an Irish name. It’s actually Welsh, deriving from …

Niall Power: Timing is Everything – August 2017

On Tuesday 25 July 2017, I had the immense pleasure of attending at The Field …

Strokestown House & its European War – April 2017

Strokestown, 1847. A single shot from a blunderbuss echoed into the Roscommon skies. The lead …

The Rathwood Santa Train – December 2016

In the darkening, starlit night, we advance through small clouds of freezing fog and espy …

Edmund Malone & the Shakespeare Hoax – October 2016

London, 16 December 1794. It may be assumed that Samuel Ireland trembled as his teenage …

Woodbine Willie – July 2016

The Somme, 1 July 1916. Woodbine Willie was not far behind the line when the …

1816 – The Year without a Summer – June 2016

Tambora was not a name that resonated with many people in Ireland during 1816 is …

Joe Biden's Irish Roots – April 2016

July 1902. Of all the delegates who attended the convention of the Ancient Order of …

Dublin Women: Six of the Best – August 2015

In August 2015, the Women’s Museum of Ireland ( sought suggestions for a new map …

William Arrol & the Boiled Sheep's Head – August 2015

It all started with a sheep’s head. A boiled sheep’s head. Or, more accurately, a …

The Venerable Mary Aikenhead – March 2015

By Turtle Bunbury ‘No young lady was more in request as a partner; she was …

Charge of the Light Brigade – October 2014

Castle Leslie, County Monaghan, 1900. The moment he heard the library door open, 15-year-old Shane …

Hugh Gough & the Punjabi Sikhs – October 2014

1. General Gough: The Irishman who Conquered the Punjab (aka Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough, …

Kilkenny City – Cool for Cats

Variations of this article have appeared in SQ Magazine and Visitor. Kilkenny City takes its …

Jersey – An Island of Potatos & Pretty Cows

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

Mision del Sol, Mexico: Quatro Manos Pleasure for Body & Soul

For several decades, the Western world has been gradually acquainting itself with the weird and …

Mexico: The Silver City of Taxco

If I learned one thing about travelling in Mexico, its that your onto a winner …

Sotogrande, Spain: Paradise Reconstructed

Take a small chunk of desolate Spanish sierra, add sprinkler system and what do you …

New Package for Irish Smokers

This article was a spoof-piece commissioned in April 2005 by Abroad to gain the magazine …

Amancipate Yourself

Amanresorts, the world’s most stylish hotel group, now has two sumptuous resorts on Sri Lanka’s …

Sri Lanka 2002 – Anyone for Tennis?

It took my grandfather’s ocean liner a month to get to British Ceylon. He was …

Sri Lanka 2005 – Howzat!?

This article has been variously published in The New York Post and Abroad Magazine. In …


Tenerife is not the sort of place you’d generally associate with snow. Nor would you …

Fishy Tales from Tampa, Florida (2001)

My friend Sherry the air hostess secured a hat-trick of tickets from a friend of …

Tennessee – Sounds Good to Me

Everyone’s heard of Chattanooga because, pardon me boy, that’s where Glen Miller’s old ‘Choo Choo’ …

Pamushana Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe – As Good as it Gets

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

Sunday Independent Andrea Smith profiles Turtle and Ally's married life in ‘Bondings'. (February 2017)
The Irish Times Turtle profiled in Home & Property, with nods to Sasha Sykes, Dan Shaw-Smith, Sylvia Drew, an Ikea map of the world and a giraffe-length bathtub. (November 2016)
Sunday Times Turtle guest writes the ‘My Week' column. (October 2015
The Irish Examiner A profile of Turtle's thoughts on history ahead of the inaugural History Festival of Ireland by Arlene Harris. (June 2012)
The Browser Daisy Banks talks with Turtle about five books that inspired him to become a family historian. (August 2011)
Eolas Meadhb Monahan interviews Turtle about his book ‘Sporting Legends of Ireland' (December 2010).
The Irish Times Turtle talks with Brian O'Connell about what makes centenarians live so long for an article entitled ‘When Your Birthday is a Presidential Affair'. (January 2010)

The full feature article is to be found in the February & March 2011 issue …

Rest on Erin's literary laurels

Turtle Bunbury – The Australian, December 04, 2010 PERHAPS it was the remote setting on …

Monumental undertakings

Turtle Bunbury – The Australian, December 04, 2010 IRELAND’S sculptural legacy plunges deeply into an …


(The Guardian, 2010) I’ve long known that Benone Strand has supernatural qualities. That became evident …


And there they were, the two old men, high above in the sandstone dome, yanking …


THE 2009 All-Ireland Talent Show was won by the Mulkerrins, three brothers aged between nine …


Mighty Quinn thumps the bar top in Kelly’s Cellars with his 88-year-old fist and bellows: …


So, Odysseus is on his way home to Ithaca to catch up with his wife …


It’s 8:00 on a hot Tuesday morning in July. ‘And how are you folks making …


The tug on my line is perhaps stronger than the previous ones. But it’s still …

Cambodian Adventure 2005 by Hugo Jellet

It is Cambodia’s misfortune to be internationally remembered for a bloody purge in the 1970s …

Prague – Head Above Flood Waters (2002)

NB: If you are seeking a place to stay in Prague, I cannot recommend No …

Denmark: Royal Winks & Fairy Tales

I was bidden to Denmark to celebrate the 199th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the …

Paris: Love in a Be-Bop Joint.

Ah mon dieu, mais bien sur, Paris continues to be the most starry-eyed, romance-inducing, kiss-me-quick …

The French Alps: Flirting with the Gods

There comes a time in everybody’s life when one is compelled to look directly into …

Marseilles & the Calanques

For top tips on where to travel in France, visit Dodo, the on-line travel guide. …

Hungary: Twitching Behind the Iron Curtain

Sandwiched between the cities of Vienna and Budapest, the West Hungarian province of Pannonia is …

Waterford – The Unconquered City

One ripe spring morning in 853 AD, a fearless blonde by name of Sitric parked …

Temple Bar – The Heart of Dublin City

Photographs by James Fennell. For the past decade most visitors to Ireland have either begun …

Tritonville Road, Dublin – A Gutsy Renovation

Photographs by James Fennell. When it comes to renovation, sometimes the only answer is to …

Tudor Hall, Monkstown, Dublin

(The White Book, 2007) With their modest approach to redesigning the interior, the new owners …

Wyvern, Bray

The Ladbroke family made their fortune from banking. By the 1820s, they owned a sizeable …

Andrea Valeria, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Photographs by James Fennell. Situated one hour’s drive south of Mexico City, the city of …

Casa Ken Scott, Cuernavaca – A House of Fabric

hotographs by James Fennell. They say that Cuernavaca (Cow Horn) in the Mexican state of …

Casa Leof – A Pre-Columban Sculpture Fantasia

Photographs by James Fennell. Nadine Vinot-Postry believes in ghosts. She maintains that she and her …

Casa Leon, Cuernavaca, Mexico – The Incredible Mrs Lambert

Photographs by James Fennell. The Mexican home of American socialite Evelyn Lambert celebrates her famous …

Mario Avila's Magical Cavern – Morelos, Mexico

Photographs by James Fennell. Mario Avila has enjoyed a colourful life. The popular Central American …

Michael Treštík's – Cubist Ceramics, Prague

Photographs by James Fennell. NB: If you are seeking a place to stay in Prague, …

Casa Alba – The Home of Candida Taylor

Candida Taylor has long lived a three-tired existence. Born in Argentina, the landscape and property …

La Higuera, Gaucin – A Converted Olive Mill in Southern Spain

Photographs by James Fennell. Sarah de Graaff-Hunter came to Spain in pursuit of a short …

The Dutch House, Galle, Sri Lanka

Photographs by James Fennell. The island of Sri Lanka ranks high amongst the most beautiful …

La Maison des Artes, Mount Lavinia

Photographs by James Fennell. Tucked down a secluded side-street in the up-market Colombo suburb of …

The Lighthouse Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Photos: James Fennell A deep, yawning cavern on the southside of the main Galle – …

Cape Cod & Pine Woods – A Home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire

Photographs by James Fennell. Louisa Thoron’s charming Cape Cod home lies midway between the towns …


The early morning sun is belting down upon the veranda as I watch my wife …

Irish Manor Houses – National Geographic Traveler, 2014
Helnwein's Castle, County Tipperary, Ireland – The Austrian Firestarter

Photographs by James Fennell. Gurteen le Poer is a magnificent granite neo-Gothic castle situated on …

Lisnavagh House, Co Carlow

When we were kids, the eyes would follow us around everywhere. The family portraits, always …

Loughcrew House, Co. Meath – Gilded Magnificence

Photographs by James Fennell. Situated just outside the County Meath village of Oldcastle, Loughcrew House …

Lough Rhynn – Leitrim Retreat

(The White Book, 2007) A lakeside Victorian castle in County Leitrim with a colourful past …

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

Photographs by James Fennell. Deep in the heart of north western Ireland there stands a …

A Tale of Two Houses, Blackrock & Sandymount

Renovating a townhouse in Dublin 4 is a famously risky business, not least because all …

Ballyhook House, Ireland – Restoration

Photographs by James Fennell. Few people these days have the breadth of vision – and …

Beacon Court, Sandyford, Co. Dublin
Deirdre Mongey – Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland

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

Cabaret Gods & the Towers of Elysium

In 1972 the late hotel entrepreneur Pascal Vincent Doyle purchased a small Victorian demesne on …

Grove Paddock, Blackrock – Renaissance in Co. Dublin

This story originally featured in The Book of Interiors Volume 2 (2005) The three-storey redbrick …

Mahaffy House, Dublin City – Restored Home of Oscar Wilde's Tutor

Photographs by James Fennell. In 1967, Dublin socialite Desiree Shortt was bidden to dinner on …

Oak Lodge, Duleek, Co. Meath

Antoinette Moynihan confesses that, though she is pure-bred Irish, a part of her has always …

The Old Mill, Co. Kildare – Celtic Inspiration

Photographs by James Fennell. Eoin O’Toole is a man of considerable energy. He owns and …

The Stables, Co Wicklow

The Stables, Rathmichael, Co Wicklow In the 1890s, road rage was a topic that dominated …

Rosie's Place, Co. Carlow – A Sculptress at Home

Photographs by James Fennell. Carlow-born Rosie Rathdonnell first met Luke Kelly in 1972 when The …

The Sea Lodge, County Louth, Ireland

Photographs by James Fennell. That the voice of the sea speaks to the soul is …

Skeaghyvagh, Co. Kildare – Lighting up the Fox's Den

Photographs by James Fennell. Marsha Hetherington has always had a fetish for the bizarre. This …

Tarquin Landseer – To the Canvas Born

Photographs by James Fennell. While the rest of England was fretting about how to defeat …

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 the founder of the Brigidine nuns, a former aide-de-camp to the King of Saxony and an architect who was refereeing Gaelic football matches in 1798.

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.

A George II era Irish Silver Coffee Pot with the mark of George Beere, Dublin, 1750.
Beere of Dublin

The Beere family were one of Dublin's leading gold and silversmith dynasties during the Georgian Age. This story also touches on Thekla Beere, the volcanic island of St. Helena and other ancestors of the family who would go on to found the Abrakebabra chain in Ireland. 

Johnny Meehan & the Spanish Civil War
Johnny Meehan & the Spanish Civil War

68 Irish men and women who died in defence of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1938. The war ended with victory for Franco, who would remain in power until his death in 1975. This story focuses on Galway-born Johnny Meehan, one of eight Irishmen to die at the battle of Lopera.

Overview: The McClintock Family in Ireland
Overview: The McClintock Family in Ireland

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

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

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

Spot-On Interview – An Irish Executives Interview by Pascal Derrien (May 2013)

IEN: Who are you and where you based ? TB: My name is Turtle Bunbury. I’m an …

The Gathering Ireland, 2013

LIVE IN THE PAST DURING THE HISTORY FESTIVAL Posted by The Gathering Ireland on 6 …

Connaught Rangers cap badge
John Walsh & the Connaught Rangers

Often considered the most Irish of regiments in the British army, ‘The Devil's Own' excelled from the Peninsula War through to the horrors of the First World War trenches. This story also looks at the career of John Walsh, a sergeant, whose career ended up in disgrace during the Anglo-Boer War.

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

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

A sketch of William McClintock Bunbury as he would later become, by William Smyth, the future admiral. Beneath it is written:
‘My old messmate in Samarang. Wm Bunbury McClintock. 1834.'
Given that Smyth's sketch book is only 15cm by 9cm, the detail is excellent. (Courtesy of John McClintock, Redhall).
Captain William McClintock Bunbury, R.N., Part 1: The Early Years (1800-1818)

The childhood years of the improbably named Captain William Bunbury McClintock Bunbury, who built the present house at Lisnavagh in the 1840s. Born in 1800, he lost his mother to a horse-fall the following year. His new stepmother was a sister of one of the most powerful men in Europe after the fall of Napoleon. Educated at Gosport in Hampshire, William entered the Royal Navy aged 13 in 1813.

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

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

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

The story of the author of the critically acclaimed ‘Castle Rackrent’, a comic masterpiece, and her inventive father, and how Maria came to the aid of the people of Longford during the Great Hunger, with further notes on her kinsman Richard Butler, Vicar of Trim and Dean of Clonmacnoise.

The battle of Culloden, 1745.
The Butcher of Culloden

Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), the son of George II, was in disgrace after he led his army to inglorious defeat at the battle of Fontenoy. And then, like a football manager whose luck changes, he destroyed the Scots at Culloden. His brutal treatment of the Scots after the battle would go down in infamy, but he was lionised by the establishment prior to his premature death aged 44.

Thomas Hickey’s portrait of ‘Indian bibi Jemdanee’ was painted in Calcutta in 1787, and is now at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.
The Brothers Hickey– Renaissance Men of Capel Street

In the 1750s, Noah Hickey ran a sweetshop on Capel Street in Georgian Dublin where he and his wife Anne raised two remarkable sons, John and Thomas. John Hickey, the elder boy, became Edmund Burke’s Favourite Sculptor,  while Thomas was to become one of the finest European artists who worked in British India.

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

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

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

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

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.

One of the MGM Lions - I'm uncertain if this was Slats or one of his successors.
Slats – Was the MGM Lion from Dublin?

Slats the lion served as the mascot of the Goldwyn Studio (later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MFM) …

The Life & Times of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell (1848-1929) of Lisnavagh, co. Carlow


The village of Knockcroghery.
The Burning of Knockcroghery, 1921

The night the Black and Tans burned down 11 houses in Knockcroghery, including its famous clay pipe factory, and why they did it.

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

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

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.

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

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

Clonalis, County Roscommon - High Kings and Civil Wars
Clonalis, County Roscommon – High Kings and Civil Wars

The home of Piers O’Conor Nash, nephew of the O'Conor Don, this fabulous Roscommon home also holds the Inauguration Stone upon which nearly thirty O’Conor kings of Connaught were crowned. Turtle recounts a visit to the house which he conducted on behalf of National Geographic Magazine.

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.

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

Chapters Corkagh in the 17th Century – see below. The Chaigneau Family Nicholas Grueber & …

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 …

Robert Ballagh, close up of O'Donovan Rossa's graveside oration.
O’Donovan Rossa’s Funeral, 1915

Arguably the most important event for Irish republicanism before the 1916 Rising took place in August 1915, with the funeral in Dublin of the ‘unrepentant Fenian’ Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, a veteran of the 1867 Rising who had died in New York. Including a superb painting of the event by Robert Ballagh.

Death on Bachelor’s Walk, 1914
Death on Bachelor’s Walk, 1914

On the eve of the First World War, a gun-running expedition by Irish nationalists turns fatal when soldiers from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers open fire on a hostile crowd along one of Dublin City's busiest quays.

Although he was not involved in the ambush, I couldn't resist seizing the opportunity to include here a photo of Lieutenant Herbert Claude Frecker (1881-1959), a veteran of the First World War who served with the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence. Born in Brussels in the 1880s, Lt. Frecker joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1917 and served on the Western Front. He lost his right eye at the battle of Ypres, in the very country where he was born. He resigned shortly before Christmas 1921 and the family returned to England.
With thanks to Paul Frecker.
The Coolnacaheragh Ambush, 1921

COOLNACAHERAGH, County Cork, 25 February 1921. On the day he died, Major James Seafield Grant, …

Ireland as a cloud.
A Potted History of Ireland (as of June 2020)

21st century Ireland is a land that astonishes in many ways. A generation ago, few …

Painted by Richard Doyle, uncle of Arthur Conan Doyle, this work from 1870 is entitled 'The Fairy Queen Takes an Airy Drive in a Light Carriage, a Twelve-in-hand, drawn by Thoroughbred Butterflies.'
William Francis de Vismes Kane (1840 –1918) – A Gentleman Naturalist At Large

The Monaghan-born naturalist and butterfly enthusiast who studied Ulster's ancient Black Pig's Dyke.

Humewood Castle, County Wicklow
Humewood Castle, County Wicklow

  When the Right Honourable Fitzwilliam Hume Dick stood for election in November 1868, he advised the …

Finnstown House was home to the Nash family.
Finnstown House, Lucan, County Dublin

“Fyne’s Town” A legal record from 1547 refers to a property spelled “Fyne’s Town” located just outside …

The Dwyer-McAllister Cottage.
Michael Dwyer (1772-1825) – The Outlaw of the Wicklow Mountains

Much of the post 1798 folklore in the Wicklow Mountains concerns the rebel leader Michael …

The Artane Band at Croke Park in 2009.
The Artane Band & Lily Allen

It was a proud day in the history of Scotshouse. On Saturday 14 August 2009, …

Plunkett of Crickstown

EARLY ORIGINS The Plunkett family has been associated with Royal Meath for at least seven …

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.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

It is not everyday that you find a CBE in your sock drawer. But that’s …

Overview: Family Histories

Turtle has written the history of over 200 families, mostly Irish or Anglo-Irish, but also …

Alcock & Brown’s Trans-Atlantic Crossing of 1919

Harry Sullivan twitched his ears. What on earth was that? As he listened, the throaty …

Catholic Converts from Carlow (1741-1812)

(With thanks to Sue Clements) The ‘Act to prevent the further growth of popery’ was …

The Flag of the Easter Rising
The Flag of the Easter Rising

On Easter Monday in April 1916, Padraig Pearse and his cohorts hoisted two tricolour flags …

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

Raimund Weisbach followed the trajectory of the torpedo through his periscope from the U-boat where he …

George IV’s Royal Visit to Ireland, 1821

‘Harris, I am not well, fetch me a brandy.’ Such was George IV’s inauspicious reaction to …

Bunburys in the Medieval Age

This section follows on from the earlier remarks about the Baron de St Pierre. It …

Henry Bunbury (1509–1547) of Great Stanny, Lord de Bunbury

Born in 1509, Henry Bunbury was a son of Richard Bunbury, Lord de Bunbury, and …

Molana Abbey: From the Stone Age to Dissolution

Molana Abbey is located on the Blackwater outside Youghal, County Waterford. Its history is astonishing …

Kelpie, Chotah & the Kilcoole Gun-Run, 1914

Kilcoole, County Wicklow, August 1st 1914. Constables Dalton and Webb knew something was up. As they patrolled the …

Nicole Kidman’s Irish Ancestry (2011)

Cape of Good Hope, November 1841. Seated in his cabin, Surgeon James Paton opened his …

The Irish at Rorke's Drift, 1879

‘Usuthu! Usuthu! Usuthu!’ As the Zulu battle cry echoed along the banks of Buffalo River, …

The Sultan of Drogheda

Drogheda, 1847. The gas-lit harbour lights burned through the dusk as the tug-boat hauled the …

The Massacre of Mullaghmast

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

Thoughts from Moone: Ogham to Isaac (2011)

Ireland is full of rock formations, the purpose of which we don’t understand. Outside Carlow …

The Irish Munitionettes

29 August 1917, Parkgate Street, Dublin. It was by no means a regular occurrence for …

Tuatha De Danaan – Greetings Earthlings? (1999)

With battlefields and burial sites dating back over 6000 years, one would do well to …

Robert Essex and the Siege of Caher

This article was written in 1999. The Irish chieftains had been up in arms against …

The San Patricios and the Mexican War of 1847

In the winter of 2001, I chanced to stay with friends of friends in the …

Holroyd-Smyth of Ballynatray

The Holrod-Smyth family were descendants of the Smyths of Ballynatray. Lady Harriette Holroyd-Smyth was a …

The Earls of Mount Cashell (Moore)

The Moore family, Earls of Mont Cashell, lived at Kilworth in north County Cork. This …

Smyth of Headborough

The Smyths of Headborough House near Lismore, County Waterford, descend from Sir Percy Smyth of …

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. 
Maule of Scotland and Ballynatray

The Norman family of Maule (sometimes Mawle) were much admired in Christian circles during the …

Supple of Aghadoe Castle, Co. Cork

The Supples were an old Anglo-Norman family, descended from Philippe de Capella (or de Capel), …

Sir Walter Raleigh in Ireland

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

Thomas Harriot – The True Discoverer of the Potato

Sir Walter Raleigh will forever to be associated with the potato. It may even be …

The Genealogy Roadshow (2011-2014) – Recap of the TV series

In 2011 viewers on RTE1 were treated to ‘The Genealogy Roadshow’, a four-part series which …

The Christmas Truce, 1914 – An Irish Perspective

At 11pm on Christmas Eve, a British sentry in the trenches near Picantin rubbed his …

Murder in Roscommon – The Assassination of the Rev. John Lloyd, 1847

On Sunday 28 November 1847, the Rev. John Lloyd and his servant were making their way home …

Dr Myddelton & the Destruction of Carlow Castle, 1814

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

Donegal Catch, 2001

Donegal County. Ireland’s Highlands. 120,000 inhabitants. Daniel O’Donnell and Rory Gallagher. Saint Columba and Packie …

The Siege of Castlecuffe, County Laoise

The following was kindly transcribed by Máirtín D’Alton from Seosamh MacCába’s book, ‘Dúthaí Uí Ríagáin’ …

The Redlegs of the Caribbean

Some years ago I was watching an interview with Rita Marley about her years with …

Rolling Around the Achill Sound (1999)

Ireland’s largest outlying island is also one of its most magical. Measuring 20 kms from …

Men in Tights – The Battle of the Boyne 1690

MEN IN TIGHTS – THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE 1690 On a warm and sunny …

Ballintemple: Dark Knights, Blue Bells

BALLINTEMPLE: DARK KNIGHTS, BLUE BELLS Major Piers Butler had been living in America for close …

Viewmount House, Co. Carlow

Viewmount House, Co. Carlow To see a map of Viewmount from 1846, click here. Viewmount …

Asgard & The Howth Gun-Running, 1914

ASGARD & THE HOWTH GUN-RUNNING, 1914 By Turtle Bunbury Shortly before noon on the hot, …