House & Building Histories

Turtle has a long-standing interest in researching the history of houses, and their various occupants through decades and centuries past. Leaving no stone unturned, he traces each property back to its earliest known origins and brings to light any stories that help to illuminate its history. Where possible, he connects with relatives and other people with a connection to the original resident families.

He also sources whatever photographs, maps, drawings and memorabilia can be found through the National Library of Ireland and other public bodies.

As well as hotels, townhouses, castles and country mansions, Turtle has researched and written the history of multiple pubs, distilleries, breweries, warehouses, mills, shops and churches.

Turtle works closely with the Irish Georgian Society (for whom he is a frequent speaker) and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (for whom he writes occasional ‘Building of the Month’ feature articles).

Adare Manor

The Renaissance of An Irish Country House

Adare Manor has always been remarkable. Its story began eight centuries ago when the original manor was granted to a Norman knight while a substantial monastic community was established on the nearby riverbanks.

From the seventeenth century to the 1980s, Adare Manor was home to ten generations of the Quin, or Wyndham-Quin family, including the seven Earls of Dunraven.

In 1832, the 2nd Earl and his countess, Lady Caroline, started work on a new Gothic Revival mansion; the project was completed thirty years later by their son Edwin, the 3rd Earl. An equally impressive project got underway in 2016 when the present owner initiated a meticulous conservation of the existing mansion, along with the construction of a new wing.

At the same time, the championship golf course at Adare Manor was thoroughly redesigned by Tom Fazio with the specific goal of hosting tournaments. The course will host the Ryder Cup in 2027. The contents of the book can be seen here.

In 2023, Adare Manor won the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Award for European Resort, having been voted No. 1 Resort in the World in 2022. The Oak Room was awarded a Michelin star in 2019, while the Adare Manor sommelier won the inaugural Sommelier Award for Britain and the UK at the same ceremony. It was named Ireland’s Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards for three years in a row, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The book was designed by John Power and edited by Yvonne Gordon, winner of the Travel Extra Irish Travel Journalist of the Year award in 2017 and 2019. It was printed by W&G Baird, Northern Ireland.

Turtle’s book traces Adare Manor’s wonderful journey from medieval manor house to its 21st century status as a shimmering 5-star hotel. The Renaissance of An Irish Country House was followed by a second book, Adare Manor – An Epicurean Journey.

‘I just wanted to say how pleased we all are with the beautiful Adare Manor book. It is really special and I know this is down to all of the hard work you put into this project.’

Colm Hannon, CEO, Adare Manor

‘A fantastic book. My husband is a direct descendant of the Earls of Dunraven so we appreciated learning about his family history through such an amazing book.’

Brenda McGuire, Des Moines, Iowa


‘Turtle Bunbury’s fascinating history of Kilshane House has given my watch substance and enlightenment to bring the past into the future.’

Jane de Roquancourt, Owner,
Kilshane House, County Tipperary, Ireland

‘It was a pleasure to work with Turtle and we were very happy with the final book. He completed our book efficiently, accurately, on time and in a very personable manner.’

Mark Dorman
Museum Director
Croke Park Stadium, Dublin City

‘Turtle delved deep into every available archive and produced an extraordinary amount of hitherto unknown facts about our building and the businesses that have operated there. We’ve been delighted to work with him ever since – as a public speaker, as an author and as the formidable researcher that he is.’

EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum

Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction, World Travel Awards 2019, 2020 and 2021

‘When the main house burned down in the 1798 rebellion, all records were apparently lost. And then along came Turtle Bunbury who not only filled in the gaps since 1798 but went all the way back to megalithic times. He literally left no stone unturned. Now, thanks to Turtle, we have a real sense of history and place. Such knowledge underpins our desire to leave as good a legacy behind us as those who came before.’

Joe O’Flynn, Owner,
Rathsallagh House, County Wicklow, Ireland

Best Wedding Venue in Ireland,
National Hospitality Awards, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

A Short House History

One of the few surviving Georgian grand houses in the county, Browne’s Hill House has a fascinating history…