Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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Above: Kevin Myers, Senator David Norris, Patrick Geoghegan
and Micheál Ó Siochrú debate the merits and failings of the
British Empire in the Lisnavagh Library, 9th June 2012.

For further details, follow these links:

2012 Agenda.


Press Coverage.

General Applause.


2013 Festival.




The inaugural History Festival of Ireland 2012 was curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury and was part of Eigse 2012. It was held at his childhood home, Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, County Carlow; the land at Lisnavagh has been home to the Bunbury family since the 1660s.

Over forty historians, journalists, commentators and entertainers came together for two days of non-stop historical discourse. The event aspired to educate and to be a bit of fun, to resolve and to confound, to question and to explore.

Ireland boasts dozens of literary festivals and spoken word events – but none gave themselves over to the discussion of History and the things we had and hadn’t learnt from it. The History Festival was thus a complete game-changer.

Featuring some of the most learned minds of our generation, the two-day festival offered a veritable feast of high-octane historical banter, embracing topics from the impact of Brian Boru’s victory at Clontarf a thousand years ago to the treatment of Irish soldiers who served in the British Army after the Second World War. We looked at the heroes and villains of our past, and mused upon ways in which we could make history relevant in the future. We explored the historical legacies of Catholicism and Empire, of Slavery and Sport, of Hollywood and the Media, of War and Peace. And we hope that those who attended the event returned home again feeling a little wiser for their visit.


Sign up to the History Festival Facebook group.


“I take refuge in the past. I find it a comfortable zone because it’s already happened. It can’t be changed. It simply is. Only these days we’ve managed to harness the past and convert it into showbiz. And I’m delighted. It means historical bores like me stand a chance of making some cash”.
Turtle Bunbury, The Dubliner.