Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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Above: It's action stations for the History Festival co-starring, L-R, Patrick
Geoghegan (with scroll), Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter, Turtle Bunbury (with umbrella),
Myles Dungan, Tommy Graham (the Samarang telescope), Ally Bunbury and
Claire Halligan. This photo by James Fennell appeared in The Irish Times
Magazine on Saturday May 26th.

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Press Coverage.

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Saturday 9th June
(Click here for full feature)
'The End of History?' "Manchán Magan and Catriona Crowe are panellists at the inaugural History Festival of Ireland, which takes place in Carlow this weekend. This event, says Manchán, will no doubt further strengthen our current obsession with the past, but no matter how distinguished the speakers, who include Diarmaid Ferriter, David Norris, Myles Dungan, Kevin Myers and Ruth Dudley Edwards, they cannot distract from Henry Ford’s central truth that “History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”
This is followed by a hefty debate between Manchán and Catriona, repeated in the opening Lisnavagh Library talk at the History Festival that same day.

Saturday 26th May
(Click here for full article).
‘The Rest is History'. History isn’t bunk, it’s funky, as the inaugural History Festival of Ireland aims to show, writes ALANNA GALLAGHER
'If history turns you grey with boredom then head to the History Festival of Ireland, where our past is dusted down and transformed into a living, breathing and sometimes rowdy event at Lisnavagh House, in Rathvilly, Co Carlow on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June.
Featuring the nation’s best historians, it includes discussions in the big house’s showstopping library. On Saturday, ‘Virtuous Villains’ takes a look at five people who put the hiss into history, including Lord Castlereagh, Oliver Cromwell and Dermot MacMurrough. At 10.30am on Sunday, round about mass time, a debate on ‘This weeks’ Eucharistic Congress is a sell out – but what has the Catholic Church actually done for us?’ takes place.
A €10 ticket will admit you to the marquee at Lisnavagh House for the day, in which a host of activities is programmed. Library events each carry a €10 admission. Buy your tickets from Carlow’s GB Shaw Theatre on 059-9172400 or at gbshawtheatre.ie. Lunch and refreshments will be available to buy all day from Pieminister.
Why not make a weekend of it? A two-day pass to all events plus accommodation and breakfast at the nearby Mount Wolseley Hotel costs €139 pps. Call 059-9180100 to book. Ireland play Croatia at 7.45pm Sunday. After the festival, you can head to Molloy’s in the village to watch the game.

Saturday 26th May
Manchán Magan talks about his upcoming adventure to the History Festival in ‘Magan’s World’ - click here.

Monday 28th May
John Grenham advocates the History Festival - click here.


Sunday 10th June
Ronan Kelly went down to the festival and returned with a 10 minute report based on meetings with the crowd, while the festiva's curator, Turtle Bunbury spoke to Myles Dungan just as the event was wrapping up on Sunday evening. Click here for link.

Sunday 20th May
Turtle Bunbury and Myles Dungan give the festival some advance publicity in a talk on how to research your family history co-starring Catriona Crowe and Nicola Morris. Click here for link.

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Above: Tom Sykes and Turtle Bunbury giving the Festival a launch for the Irish Examiner. (Photo: Nick Bradshaw)


Friday 8th June 2012

Where lovers of the past take centre stage
By Arlene Harris

Turtle Bunbury is inviting you into his family’s stately home, Lisnavagh House, for a one-of-a-kind history festival,says Arlene Harris
Ireland is steeped in culture. Our rich historical past has shaped the people we are and while we all have stories and memories passed down, not many of us have spent a childhood immersed in our heritage.
But journalist and writer Turtle Bunbury was raised in Lisnavagh House in Carlow. The beautiful, stately dwelling was built in the 1600s and has been in his family since, serving as an idyllic childhood home and as the motivation for Bunbury’s fascination with the past.
Having written many historical articles and books, Bunbury has put his love of history into action and will host Ireland’s inaugural historical festival at Lisnavagh House on Jun 9 and 10.
"I have been a historical bore since I was about five and there’s no doubt growing up in this house made me an historical person," says Bunbury (who is married to Ally and has two daughters, Jemima 5, and Bay, 3). "I was a toy-soldier fanatic, forever waging wild, tactically unsound battles over landscapes made up of bread-bin hills and my father’s welly-boot caves. And the walls had portraits that would eyeball me wherever I went — they used to scare the hell out of me until I worked out who they all were. Now, they’re like old friends and I even wink at them on occasion," he says.
"The house is steeped in history, right back to when my ancestors came to Ireland (from England) in the late 1600s and built Lisnavagh House. Then, a Bunbury married the heiress of a corrupt banker and secured a small fortune that sustained the family through until the early 20th century, during which time they built a bigger house — it was massive, probably the biggest house in Carlow."
"My grandparents resized the house in 1952 and it’s now a rather more manageable home, where my eldest brother and his wife live and they run it as an upmarket wedding venue. They’ve very kindly lent it to me for the History Festival, and while most of the events will take place in a marquee on the lawn, the eight library events will take place in the magnificent, oak-panelled library."
Although it will be the first festival of its kind in the country, Bunbury says we have a wealth of suitable experience and knowledge.
"There’s hardly an acre of Ireland which hasn’t been impacted by an incident from the annals of history," he says. "The countryside is smothered in ring-forts and dolmens, battlefields and churches, ruined castles and lonely graveyards, and that’s before you get near the towns and cities.
"The big trees that sprawl upon our skyline were planted by men and women, 150, 200 years ago. History is a living, breathing, ever-evolving and utterly fascinating entity.
"I feel the whole concept of history has changed dramatically in the past decade," he says. "It’s no longer simply an endless dirge about dates. It’s become a lot more colourful, dramatic and relevant.
"The internet has completely fuelled a new age of genealogy, where you have shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and The Genealogy Road Show, which have given everybody an excuse to stop for a moment and think about their own forebears — about their grandparents and great-grandparents, what they did with their lives and where they were from.
"So, when you juggle this new and rapidly expanding online interest with the richness of our actual history, I think you have something that is fast-approaching a phenomenon."
What will the festival involve?
"It’s going to be full of colour and drama and fun and wisdom. The line-up is on the button, with upwards of 30 historians rocking around the place. Fans of history on the radio will recognise Myles Dungan, Patrick Geoghegan and Tommy Graham."
Journalist, author and royal blogger, Tom Sykes shares an office with Turtle and is married to his sister Sasha. He is also on the line-up for the festival and will be discussing a modern event which changed history.
"I am going to be talking about the Queen’s visit to Ireland last year," says Sykes. "I felt it was such a wonderful, joyous healing event. It was also the single most political thing the Queen has ever done."
Topics will also include the Irish in the American Civil War, the fate of Irish soldiers who served for Britain in WWII and the once-legendary Jammets restaurant in Dublin! There will also be contributions from David Norris, Diarmaid Ferriter, Ruth Dudley-Edwards and Manchan Magan.!
Tickets to the History Festival of Ireland cost €10 per person, and separate talks in the house library will cost an additional €10 per person.
* www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com and www.lisnavagh.com


Sunday 3rd June
‘If you do one thing this week … Hear about history. And take part in the History Festival of Ireland. Join Senator David Norris, right, Kevin Myers and others for lively debate in the beautiful Lisnavagh House, Co Carlow, on June 9 and 10. www.thehistoryfestival ofireland.com’.

Sunday 10th June
‘Keep it short, but don't forget the gravitas . . .‘Brevity, they say, is the soul of wit. Well, Perry Ogden, Lionel Shriver and Katie Hickman are about to prove Them right. Each will spend 15 minutes -- just about the perfect time for a lecture, if you ask me -- on a subject of their choice. 5x15 is a Notting Hill-based concept run by Catherine-Anne Heaney, imported to the Borris House Hay Festival today, as part of the rather star-studded Eigse Carlow Arts Festival. Barely six months into his new role as artistic director, Hugo Jellet has pulled off a dazzling line-up. "What was a rather crestfallen Carlow-town-based festival, living under the shadow of Kilkenny, has expanded," he tells me, with not a little pride.
Hugo's friend and fellow culture-enthusiast, Turtle Bunbury, is opening glorious Lisnavagh House to the History Festival (Ireland's first), where Ruth Dudley Edwards, Kevin Myers, Manchan Magan and others will discuss the great heroes and villains of our past, and how we might learn from them.’

Monthly Newsletter of the Genealogical Society of Ireland

History Festival of Ireland
The inaugural History Festival of Ireland, curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury, was held at the historic Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June 2012. This rather novel event sought to bring together “some of the most learned minds of our generation …. 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”. Themes explored included the historical legacies of Catholicism and the [British] Empire; Slavery and Sport; and War and Peace. GSI Cathaoirleach, Pádraic Ingoldsby, MGSI, represented the Society at the event, whilst our Vice-President, Stuart Rosenblatt, PC, FGSI, spoke on his enormous project to record the archival heritage of the Irish-Jewish community – now comprising seventeen volumes.

(Click here for original)
Studenty’s Andrew Haworth previews this summer’s inaugural History Festival of Ireland…
For many in Ireland, summer means music festival after music festival. From the expensive ones with the big names and the small free ones with bands nobody has heard of at least not for a few decades.
This year, historians and future historians of Ireland have their very own festival. ‘The Inaugural History Festival of Ireland’ will take place on Saturday June 9 and Sunday June 10 at Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.
Taking place so soon after the end of exams, most students and academics may want a break from talk of history and don’t want to look at a history book, never mind hear debates. However, they would miss out from hearing the experts talk and debate important issues in a relaxed and less formal environment than in a lecture theatre at University.
Many of the speakers at the Festival may not be familiar to most Irish students unless they are very well read and informed. However, most will have heard of and perhaps read books from the more famous ones such as Ruth Dudley Edwards, Diarmaid Ferriter and Patrick Geoghan. Not everyone attending is an historian, other famous people such as Senator and former presidential candidate, David Norris, journalist Kevin Myers and documentary maker Manchán Magan will be in attendance. There will also be a break from the history as Pat Shortt will perform at the GB theatre on Day 1.
As for the topics, the organisers have attempted to make it very wide and open; debates over the future of history for the junior cert, would the British Empire have existed without the Irish? Was the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland really historic? Was Boru’s victory at Clontarf the greatest in our history?
Tickets are priced at a reasonable €10 per person and a further €10 per person for the additional events in the Lisnavagh Library and all events are over in time for the Euro 2012 match between Ireland and Croatia.
For further details of the festival, book tickets and getting directions to Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, go to www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com


IRISH AMERICA (June 7th 2012)
History Festival of Ireland June 9 – 10 in Co. Carlow - Lisnavagh House
For those who love exploring and debating Irish history, and are committed to having fun while doing so, the beautiful Lisnavagh estate in Rathvilly, Co. Carlow is the place to be this weekend. On June 9 and 10, over 30 of Ireland’s leading scholars and presenters of history, oral historians, genealogists and other voices from the field will gather for the first History Festival of Ireland.
The festival, a part of the larger Éigse Carlow Arts Festival, will take place from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. in both Lisnavagh’s grand library and in a specially built marquee on the house’s lawn. The marquee will host a range of talks, readings and presentations, including two History of Ireland Hedge Schools, an interview on the Vanishing Ireland project, discussion on oral history in Ireland, and a presentation entitled Alternative History of Ireland through maps, slides and song, led by Paddy Cullivan, a satirist and leader of the band on RTE’s Late Late Show.
In the library, a lively series of debates and panel discussions will take place. Far from a staid affair, topics will range from whether the British Empire would have existed without the Irish (with speakers Senator David Norris, journalist Kevin Myers and Trinity College Dublin professors Micheál Ó Siochrú and Patrick Geoghegan), villains and heroes who “put the hiss in history,” such as Oliver Cromwell, Countess Markievicz and Dermot MacMurrough; whether those who left the Irish Army to fight for Britain in World War II should be classed as deserters; and unsung heroines of Irish history, including Lola Montez, Maria Edgeworth and Hilda Tweedy.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit: www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com

THE IRISH DAILY MAIL (June 6th 2012)
If history is your thing, then Lisnavagh House outside Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, is the place to be this weekend as the inaugural History Festival of Ireland gets underway. With over 25 debates, talks and readings spread over two days, the Festival features such historically-minded luminaries as Senator David Norris, Diarmaid Ferriter, Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Manchan Magan, Myles Dungan, Jeananne Crowley, Kevin Myers, Tom Sykes, Paddy Cullivan, Pat Wallace, Patrick Geoghegan and Catriona Crowe. Topics include the impact of the Queen’s visit in 2011, Irish involvement in the American Civil War, the legacy of Brian Boru, the fate of Irish soldiers who served for Britain in World War Two and the once legendary Jammets restaurant in Dublin where everyone was anyone chose to dine. The weekend is curated by regular Irish Daily Mail writer Turtle Bunbury and is part of Eigse 2012. For more see www.thehistoryfestivalofireland.com or book via www.entertainment.ie


Wednesday 23rd May 2012
Sean Moncrieff gives the show the thumbs up after an interview with Turtle about Edward Lear.


Patrick Geoghegan promotes the Festival to his dedicated Newstalk fanbase.


Tom Sykes aka The Royalist urges his large following to keep an eye on the History Festival ahead of his role in a debate on the impact of Queen Elizabeth's 2011 visit to Ireland. See here for more.



Heaven for History Buffs
By Bernd Biege, About.com Guide - June 6, 2012
A unusual and intriguing new venture - over the coming weekend (June 9th and 10th), the inaugural History Festival of Ireland will take place at Lisnavagh House. The line-up already includes loads of historians and well-known faces like David Norris (Joycean scholar, tireless campaigner and failed presidential candidate) and Kevin Myers (outspoken and often hotly discussed columnist). Expect sparks flying, some discussion topics almost guaranteeing an intellectual exchange of heavy fire. The festival is part of Éigse 2012, the County Carlow arts festival.
If you plan to join in ... better brush up on your Irish history, from Prehistoric Times to the Peace Process ...

A two day inaugural History Festival of Ireland will be held at Lisnavagh House, Lisnavagh, County Carlow, on June 9th-10th, as part of the county's Eigse festival. Admission to the event is €10, with two streams of lectures running in parallel. The first group of lectures, to be held each day in the Festival Marquee, are free, with the second batch, to be held in the building's library, costing an addition €10 per talk. I can't see any mention of vendors in attendance, so not sure if this is more of a conference, but some of the talks certainly look as if they are worth attending. For more, see here.