Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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Photo: Turtle Bunbury (2016) by Fergal Phillips.

Turtle Bunbury is a best-selling author, historian, public speaker and TV presenter based in Ireland. His new book 1847 - A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity and Savagery will be launched in the chq Building, Dublin, on Thursday 29 September 2016, with a guest appearance by Luka Bloom.

Turtle's last book Easter Dawn, an account of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, was published by Mercier in 2015. A US edition entitled The 1916 Rising - The Photographic Record was simultaneously published by Rowman & Littlefield.

His 2014 book The Glorious Madness - The Irish & World War One was shortlisted for Best Irish Published Book of the Year. He is also author of the acclaimed Vanishing Ireland series, a collaboration with photographer James Fennell and publishers Hachette Ireland. The last Vanishing Ireland was short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year 2013, as were the first two volumes of the series. The series has now sold in excess of 77,000 books.

His other books include Sporting Legends of Ireland, The Irish Pub and Living in Sri Lanka.

Turtle has given talks on his books in New York, Paris, London, Chicago, Dublin, Limerick, Carlow, Cork, Kilkenny and Monte Carlo. He returns to Chicago as a keynote speaker for the iBAM Conference on 14-16 October 2016. He was the narrator for the Ireland exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, and has spoken in the city thrice before. He is also a keynote speaker on the Paths to Freedom and Great War Roadshows, which have been touring Ireland since 2014.

He was a co-presenter of the first two series of 'Genealogy Roadshow', the pioneering RTE television series. He was also Newstalk Breakfast's Resident Historian from June to December 2013, as well as co-founder of the History Festival of Ireland, curating the event in 2012 and 2013. He is the founder of Wistorical, an innovative concept for promoting Irish history globally, as well as the Vanishing Ireland Facebook page.

A past winner of Ireland's Long Haul Travel Journalist of the Year Award, Turtle's work has been published in National Geographic Traveler (April 2014), Playboy, Vogue Living, The Irish Times, The Financial Times, The New York Post, The Australian, The Guardian and The World of Interiors.

Click here for a chronology of his recent activities.

Turtle was born on 21st February 1972 and raised at Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, Ireland. He received his early education in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, before moving to Castle Park School in Dublin. From 1980 to 1985, he was at Glenalmond College in the Scottish Highlands where he secured the necessary results at A-Level to read law at Trinity College Dublin. He opted to postpone college and go traveling.

At the age of eighteen, Turtle left Ireland for the U.S.A., working his way across the continent from New York to Los Angeles over three months. He subsequently spent six months in New Zealand and Australia, returning to Ireland, via Singapore and Malaysia, to commence his legal studies in Dublin. The law did not suit him and in 1994 Turtle happily transferred to history. He spent one year at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands before returning to Dublin to complete his degree at Trinity in 1996.

Armed with a degree in modern history from Trinity College Dublin, he moved to Hong Kong in 1996 and spent three years working as a freelance correspondent with the South China Morning Post and Business News Indochina. During this time he experienced an extraordinary period of history while attempting to establish a guesthouse in Cambodia in the same month that Pol Pot was captured. He also visited Vietnam, Thailand, Macau and Tokyo.

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Above: Turtle Bunbury and James Fennell at the launch of
'The Irish Pub' in the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, in 2008.

(Photo: Stu Carroll)

Returning to Ireland on the eve of the new millennium, he spent two years working with the travel company, Trailblazer.com, an early victim of the Dot Bomb crash of 2002. He simultaneously developed his interest in Irish and world history, contributing articles to magazines and newspapers around the world.

Since 2004, Turtle has established himself as one of the most prolific and energetic writers in Ireland. As well as his twelve published books, he has travelled extensively, most notably in the USA, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, France and Australia. His work on Sri Lanka earned him the award for Ireland’s Longhaul Travel Journalist of the Year in 2006.

For a detailed look at Turtle's Books, click here.

He also founded ‘Your History in a Book’, creating thoroughly researched and handsomely illustrated family histories, presented as leather-bound books.

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(Photo: Gerry Moore)

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(Photo: Suki Stuart).

Turtle Bunbury

(Photo: Ally Bunbury)

Turtle Bunbury

(Photo: Ally Bunbury)

A frequent contributor to The Irish Times, The Irish Daily Mail and other national newspapers, Turtle is a well known name on TV and radio. He was one of the co-presenters on the 'Genealogy Roadshow', which ran to two series between 2011 and 2014. He appeared on BBC2's 'Antiques to the Rescue', with John Foster, talking about Borris House in Co. Carlow. On BBC1's 'Wogan's Ireland', he pondered the drunkenness of the Jacobite troops at the battle of the Boyne with Sir Terry Wogan. In 2009, he was a historical consultant for the Irish series of 'Who Do You Think You Are?', most notably the episode with former Miss World, Rosanna Davison.

Turtle was also the consultant and scriptwriter for the BIFF award-nominated 'John Henry Foley - Ghost of the Empire' which first aired on TG4 in November 2008. Turtle is also a frequent guest on 'Nationwide', TV3's 'Ireland A.M.' and Irish radio. In May 2011, he talked about Obama's visit to Ireland with Michael Patrick Shiels on Michigan's Morning Show (1240 WJIM).

For a detailed look at Turtle's TV and radio profile, click here.


On May 20th 2006, Turtle married Miss Ally Moore of Bishopscourt, Clones, Co. Monaghan. Their eldest daughter Jemima Meike McClintock Bunbury was born in Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda, Co Louth, on 17th June 2007. Their second daughter Bay Hermione McClintock Bunbury was born in Drogheda on 4th February 2009. Since 2007, the Bunburys have lived on the family estate at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, where they built a new house. The Bunburys moved into Old Fort in July 2008.


In September 2010, Turtle was made a Knight of Justice of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem.

In the autumn of 2011 he spent four weeks in the Principality of Monaco as the Ireland Funds writer-in-residence to the Princess Grace Irish Library.