Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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'A perfect symbiosis between text and images -
both similarity affectionate, respectful, humorous,
slightly melancholic but never sentimental or nostalgic.
This is invaluable social history'.


'This is a beautiful and remarkably simple book that will
melt the hardest of hearts. Bunbury has a light writing
style that lets his interviewees, elderly folk from around
the country, tell their stories without interference. It's
neither patronising nor overly romantic about the past;
just narrating moving tales ... The portraits by Fennell are
striking, warm and dignified, with a feeling of being
invited into people's lives'.
The Sunday Times


The Vanishing Ireland series is available in bookshops across
Ireland or from Turtle's Amazon Store.

                          Easter Dawn - 1916 Rising book cover             

" Easter Dawn is a beautiful and workmanlike addition
to Turtle Bunbury’s collection of well-researched and
lavishly illustrated coffee table history books
... a
mixture of sound history with vivid and sometimes
intimate detail.
Socialist History, April 2016.

“Possibly the best-seller of the centennial ... the whole
story easily told and illustrated by a brilliant populariser.'

Books Ireland, 2015.

"A handsome hardback with many fine and rare images ...
a fine survery of Easter week 1916."

RTE Guide, 2015.


In the long and epic fight for Irish independence, few
events match the drama and tragedy of the Easter Rising
of 1916. Bonded by a mutual dream of an independent
Ireland, an extraordinary alliance of men and women
sought to overthrow the British authorities who had ruled
the island for centuries past.

Published by Mercier, 'Easter Dawn' by Turtle Bunbury
charts the story from the landing of the guns at Howth for
the Irish Volunteers in 1914 to the arrests and executions
that followed the Rising itself.

Intricately researched and emotively written, the narrative
focuses on the personalities of a remarkable cast. These
tales are woven around contemporary photographs, many
rare and unseen, providing a fresh look at the people and
places involved. An excellent insight for anyone seeking an
accessible, impartial and vivid account of that immense week.

The book is published in the US as 'The 1916 Rising - The
Photographic Record' by Rowman & Littlefield.

The book is available from all good bookshops nationwide
or directly via"

Turtle's aStores at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk


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Turtle's book 'The Glorious Madness - Tales of the Irish & the
Great War' was short-listed for Best Irish-published Book of
the Year 2014. A second print went nationwide in 2015.

'An absolutely brilliant book.'
Patrick Geoghegan, Talking History, Newstalk

"Turtle Bunbury’s open-handed, clear-sighted and finely written
book comes fresh and, I might almost say, redeemed out of the
moil and storm of controversy that surrounded the topic of the war,
in a thousand different guises in the decades since its end. Turtle
holds out his hand in the present, seeking the lost hands of the
past, in darkness, in darkness, but also suddenly in the clear light of
kindness - in the upshot acknowledging their imperilled existence
with a brilliant flourish, a veritable banner, of wonderful stories."
Sebastian Barry.

'Turtle continues the wonderful listening and yarn-spinning he has
honed in the Vanishing Ireland series, applying it to veterans of the
First World War. The stories he recreates are poignant, whimsical
and bleakly funny, bringing back into the light the lives of people
who found themselves on the wrong side of history after the
struggle for Irish independence. This is my kind of micro-history.'
John Grenham, The Irish Times.

'A most magnificent book and beautifully done. A superb
production, superb photos.'
Gay Byrne.

The book is available from all good bookshops nationwide or directly from

Turtle's aStores at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

For more, see The Glorious Madness.

Turtle Bunbury is a best-selling author, historian, public
speaker and TV presenter based in Ireland. His next book
1847 - The Year That Forged The Modern World

will be published by Gill on 23 September 2016.

His previous books include Easter Dawn - The
1916 Rising
(2015), The Glorious Madness - Tales
of the Irish & the Great War
(short-listed for Best
Irish-published Book of the Year 2014) and the award-
winning Vanishing Ireland series.

Upcoming events where Turle will speak include:

‘The Somme – A Wider Set of Reflections & Experiences’
Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, 1 June 2016.

'Blackwater: Of Zulus, Potatoes & the Spanish Armada'
Immrama Festival of Travel Writing
Lismore, Co. Waterford, Ireland
Sunday 19 June 2016, 8:30am.

'1916 - American Persepctives'
The Chicago Cultural Center, 30 June 2016.

A past winner of Ireland's Long Haul Travel
Journalist of the Year Award, his work has been
published in National Geographic Traveler, The
World of Interiors, Playboy
, The Irish Times, The
Financial Times, The New York Post, The Australian,
Inspirato, The Guardian and
Vogue Living

He is a co-presenter of 'Genealogy Roadshow' (RTE),
the founder of Wistorical, an innovative concept for
promoting Irish history globally, and a regular guest on
Irish radio. He also co-founded the annual History
Festival of Ireland

Turtle's books are available directly from his
aStores at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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Photo: Dylan Vaughan.


Wistorical Facebook

Wistorical, Turtle's historical blog, is updated daily and
provides an innovative forum for promoting local history
globally. Click on Wistorical to join.



Click here to follow Turtle on Wordpress








From the generals and field commanders through to the troopers and nurses on the front lines, the Irish served at every turn in the Great War. They tore through the skies in flimsy biplanes. They soared across the seas in battleships. They charged across the tortured earth with bayonets fixed. They wrapped bandages and dabbed softly in the field hospitals. They prayed, they sang, they killed, they wept and they died.

Short-listed for Best Irish-published Book of the Year at the 2014 Irish Book Awards, 'The Glorious Madness' by historian Turtle Bunbury uncovers many important forgotten stories from our past. Here he reveals many never-before-heard tales of the Irish heroes and heroines whose lives coincided with one of the most brutal conflicts our world has ever known — including nuns, artists, sportsmen, poets, aristocrats, nationalists, nurses, clergymen and film directors.By turns poignant, enlightening, whimsical and darkly comic, this is history as it should be — free-wheeling and finely tuned to the rhythms of the human heart. A second print of The Glorious Madness became available in May 2015.


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Over the course of 2016, Turtle will be touring Ireland as a lecturer with the Paths to Freedom Roadshow. This follows on from the Great War Roadhsow of 2014-2015 which saw him speak at events in Boyle, Kells, Tallaght, Clonegal, Greystones, Dublin City, Thurles and Cavan. His fellow lecturers included Myles Dungan, John O'Keefe, Ciaran Wallace, Gordon Power and Damian Shiels.



In 2001, historian Turtle Bunbury and photographer James Fennell began criss-crossing their native Ireland to interview and photograph people aged between 70 and 108 about the old ways of life. With over 300 such interviews under their belt, their findings have been published in a series of beautiful, best-selling and critically coffee table books.

The Vanishing Ireland series, as it is known, has become a household name across Ireland with the Irish Independent hailing it as 'an invaluable record of times past'. Three of the books have been short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year, including 'Vanishing Ireland -Friendship & Community', which was published in 2013.

All four 'Vanishing Ireland' books are available via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Turtle and James also collaborated on ‘The Irish Pub’, an ode to the rapidly changing pub scene in rural Ireland, which heavily inspired a feature length movie of the same name.

Turtle has given talks on the project in New York, Paris, London, Chicago, Dublin, Limerick, Dublin, Carlow, Cork, Kilkenny and Monte Carlo. An exhibitionat Castletown House in County Kildare oepned in April 2016 and will run until October.

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Click here to Join the 'Vanishing Ireland' Facebook

The series has also enjoyed a run of successful shows at Burtown House, Co. Kildare; Smock Alley Theatre and the City Assembly House, Dublin; Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry; the Visual Arts Centre in Carlow & the Hunt Museum in Limerick City.



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The second series of the 'Genealogy Roadshow' aired on RTE One in May 2015. It originally aired during May 2014 with a repeat showing in November 2014. The three episodes were filmed at Powerscourt, County Wicklow, University College Cork and Lumen Christi College, Derry. In each episode, Turtle - as a historian - teams up with genealogists John Grenham and Susan Chadwick to investigate claims by people who believe they have famous or infamous relatives, or that they are connected to a historical event or long-standing mystery.

Produced by Big Mountain, the first series originally aired on RTE1 television in 2011, was repeated twice in 2012 and again in both 2013 and 2014. PBS America developed its own version of the Big Mountain format which started in 2013 and also ran for a second series in 2015. For more details, click here.


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Turtle was Resident Historian on Newstalk Breakfast radio from June to December 2013. Click on the logo above to hear podcasts of his popular 'Hidden Histories' slot.


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(Illustration by Derry Dillon)



Turtle was co-founder with Hugo Jellett of the History Festival of Ireland and curated the event in 2012 and 2013. Turtle also spoke at the 2014 History Festival which took place at Huntington Castle in County Carlow under curator Angus Mitchell. The 2016 event is scheduled to run alongside the Éigse Literary Festival at Borris House in June.

Click here for more or to learn more about the History Festival, please sign up to the Facebook page or check out www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com The History Festival is an Éigse initiative.


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Above: Turtle with Sir Terry Wogan.


Turtle frequently lends his historical expertise to TV documentaries such as 'The Genealogy Roadshow', 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and 'Wogan's Ireland', in which he pondered the drunkenness of the Jacobite troops at the battle of the Boyne with Sir Terry Wogan. He co-scripted and researched the award-nominated documentary 'John Henry Foley - Sculptor of the Empire'. He was Resident Historian on Newstalk Breakfast show from June to December 2013.

Turtle has delivered talks on the 'Vanishing Ireland' project, the Easter Rising, the Dublin Docklands, 'Big House' archives and the history of the Bunbury family to the 2016 Transatlantic Conference, the 2015 Web Summit, the 2015 Ireland Exhibition at Chicago's Art Institute, the 2013 Poesie and Prose Literary Festival in Paris, the 2013 Irish Writers Festival in London, the 2013 St Patrick's Festival (Marsh's Library) in Dublin, the 2012 Tall Ships Festival in Dublin, the Royal Dublin Society and the New York and Chicago chapters of the Irish Georgian Society in 2012.

Tutle is a guest blogger for the Irish Executives on LinkedIn, as well as a frequent contributor to the Discover Ireland website, WorldIrish.com, Irish Family Names, the Wild Geese Blog and the Gathering Ireland 2013 campaign.

Turtle's other books include Sporting Legends of Ireland, The Irish Pub and Living in Sri Lanka. Since 2006, four of his books have been short-listed for the Best Irish Published Book of the Year. He has also talked about inspirational books with Daisy Banks of The Browser.

In 2011, he was the Ireland Fund of Monaco's Writer-in-Residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library.

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Dublin Docklands, The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Wicklow and The Landed Gentry of County Kildare are all presently out of print. However, you will find the content of all three books freely available via the 'Published Books' section on the sidebar of this website.


This website has been compiled in the interest of furthering the research and study of both local and international history.