Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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LEITRIM GUARDIAN (November 2009)

Sue, Lady Kilbracken, applauds the Vanishing Ireland project for 'breathtaking photography' and its 'sensitive and profound insight into the fading world of old Ireland'.

Since the closure of Longfield in March 1999, the chances of the residents of Carrigallen and the surrounding area seeing Teresa McGerty, Johnny Fyfe and Johnny ‘The Goudly’ Golden together under one roof has been rare. Now they have that opportunity in a spectacular new collection of evocative photographs and charming interviews compiled in a book called ‘Vanishing Ireland’

This is the second volume of the ‘Vanishing Ireland’ project, which chronicles a cross section of Irish society that is slowly fading from our world. Over the course of 2009, James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury travelled the length and breadth of the country, documenting the lives of forty-one men and women.

The feedback we received for the first volume was both astonishing and deeply encouraging. Many letters came from people who wished they had taken the time to write down the stories of their now deceased family elders,” says Turtle. “We have sought out souls of a positive nature who do not simply link us to the past but, perhaps more importantly, provide us with wisdom and humour to take on the future. It has been an immense privilege for us to listen to these stories and to have the past reincarnated by those who lived through it.”

Not only does it highlight the disappearing ways and traditions of Irish life, the magnificent photographs place each of those interviewed in the setting of their homes. Next to portraits of the forty-one characters are breathtaking scenes of lakes, rugged landscapes and white-washed cottages in isolated windswept terrain. We are given an intimate peek inside some of the cottages and the farmyards come alive with ducks, chickens, donkeys and dogs. For a moment you are transported and around Carrigallen, want to watch out for ‘The Gouldy’ purring by on his Honda 70.

A sensitive and profound insight into the fading world of old Ireland, told through the stories and photographs of craftsmen, musicians, sportsmen, farmers, traders, nuns, gentry and centenarians, this enchanting book would be a gem on any coffee table and promises to become a collector’s item.

For anyone with a love of history or a love of Ireland or both, ‘Vanishing Ireland - Further Chronicles of a Disappearing World', by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury can be purchased at all good bookshops.


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