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

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

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

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

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. 

The soprano Grace Bumbrey.
Bumbry (Bunbury) of Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Close up of 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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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 .

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the life of an Irish clerical family whose best known members include John Disney, sometime Mayor of Galway, and Catherine Disney (1806-1853), the lover of mathematician and astronomer Sir William Rowan Hamilton. 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cork City Gaol
The History of Cork City Gaol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tailteann Games poster
Strange Tales from Croke Park

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

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.      

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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 …

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

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

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 …

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Han Solo
Harrison Ford – The Hollywood Carpenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grafton Street in 1956.
Grafton Street, Dublin City

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

Wicklow Street, Dublin
Wicklow Street, Dublin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turtle circa 1998 by Amy McElroy.
About Turtle Bunbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Historical Odyssey through Dublin’s Literary Pubs

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

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

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

The Ballybit Pot.
Ballybit, County Carlow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nude by Tarquin Landseer
Tarquin Landseer – To the Canvas Born

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humewood Castle, County Wicklow
Humewood Castle, County Wicklow

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

The Palatines in Ireland
The Palatines in Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe 2000 – Another Annus Horibilis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sopron street scene.
Hungary: Twitching Behind the Iron Curtain

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

Charles Spencer Cowper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When College Green was Green
When College Green was Green

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

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

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

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 …

Memorial to Michael Fay, Rathvilly, erected in 2021.

"From Flanders plain across the Main,

There came a soldier bold,

who changed his mind, a place to find,

Beneath the Green and Gold,

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

And his name was Michael Fay

By Barrow banks he joined the ranks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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