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Turtle Bunbury

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Turtle Bunbury
Turtle Bunbury
James Alexander Hugh McClintock-Bunbury

(1972-02-21) 21 February 1972 (age 52)
EducationGlenalmond College, Trinity College
Occupation(s)Author, historian, television presenter
Known forVanishing Ireland
SpouseAlly Bunbury
ParentBaron Rathdonnell (father)

James Alexander Hugh McClintock-Bunbury (born 21 February 1972),[1] known as Turtle Bunbury, is an Irish author, historian, and television presenter. He has published a number of books such as the Vanishing Ireland series, Easter Dawn -The 1916 Rising,[2] The Glorious Madness (short-listed for Best Irish-published Book of the Year 2014)[3][4][5] and 1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery.[6]


Bunbury is the third son of Thomas McClintock-Bunbury, 5th Baron Rathdonnell and Jessica Harriet, daughter of George Gilbert Butler, of Scatorish, Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny, Ireland (brother of the essayist Hubert Butler).[7] He was raised at Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, County Carlow, in Ireland,[8] and received his early education locally and at Castle Park School in Dublin.[9] He later studied at Glenalmond College, Perthshire, Scotland, before going on to Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.[10]

From 1996 to 1998 he lived in Hong Kong, working as a freelance correspondent with the South China Morning Post and Business News Indochina.[8][11][12]

Bunbury was a co-presenter of The Genealogy Roadshow on RTÉ television in 2011 and 2014.[8] He also presented Hidden Histories on Newstalk Radio in 2013.[13] He co-wrote the 2008 documentary John Henry Foley: Sculptor of the Empire.[14] He has also appeared on BBC1's Wogan's Ireland,[15] and episodes of the American version and Irish version of the Who Do You Think You Are? TV series.[16]

BBC History Magazine described him as "a skilled storyteller",[17] and novelist Marjorie Quarton described Bunbury as being "one of the most versatile authors of his generation … a serious author with a light touch in writing".[18]

His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler,[19] Daily Beast,[20] The Australian,[21] The Guardian[22] and the Irish Times.[23]

In 2019, Bunbury began a collaboration with Iarnród Éireann / Irish Rail and Flahavan's for a project called ‘Past Tracks,’ an exhibition of historic panels that went on semi-permanent display in several railway stations around Ireland.[24]

Turtle Bunbury is married to the novelist Ally Bunbury with whom he lives in County Carlow.[25][26]

Vanishing Ireland[edit]

In 2001 Bunbury began work on the Vanishing Ireland project with photographer James Fennell. The project produced four books,[27] and a review in the Irish Independent of the first book noted how it was "written with sympathy, understanding and gentle humour".[28] Three of the books were short-listed for Best Irish-Published Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.[29]


  • The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Co. Kildare (Irish Family Names, 2004) ISBN 0953848531
  • The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Co. Wicklow (Irish Family Names, 2005) ISBN 0953848574
  • Living in Sri Lanka (Thames & Hudson, 2006), with James Fennell. ISBN 0500512876
  • Vanishing Ireland (Hodder Headline, 2006), with James Fennell. ISBN 034092277X
  • The Irish Pub (Thames & Hudson, 2008) with James Fennell. ISBN 0500514283
  • Dublin Docklands – An Urban Voyage (Montague, 2009). ISBN 0955815517
  • Vanishing Ireland 2 (Hodder Headline, 2009), with James Fennell. ISBN 0340920270
  • Sporting Legends of Ireland (Mainstream, 2010) with James Fennell. ISBN 1845965027
  • Vanishing Ireland 3 (Hachette, 2011), with James Fennell. ISBN 1444733052
  • Dublin from the Etihad Skyline (GAA Museum, 2012), ISBN 978-0957280502.
  • Vanishing Ireland 4 (Hachette, 2013), with James Fennell. ISBN 1444733060
  • The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War (Gill & Macmillan, 2014) ISBN 978-07171-6234-5
  • Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising (Mercier Press, 2015). ISBN 978-1781-172582
  • 1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery (Gill, 2016). ISBN 9780717168347
  • Adare Manor : The Renaissance of an Irish Country House (Adare Manor Publishing, 2019) ISBN 9781527246706
  • Ireland's Forgotten Past (Thames & Hudson, 2020) ISBN 9780500022535
  • The Irish Diaspora: Tales of Emigration, Exile and Imperialism (Thames & Hudson, 2021) ISBN 9780500022528


  1. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, vol. 3, p. 3279
  2. ^ Ronan McGreevy. "Easter Rising books reviewed". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  3. ^ Keith Jeffrey. "In praise of the fighting – and dying – Irish". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. ^ Frances O'Rourke. "First Encounters: Turtle Bunbury and Hugo Jellett". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  5. ^ Emily Hourican. "Awards show energy of Irish writing". Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Turtle Bunbury: 'The only place I can achieve peace is in the bath'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  7. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, vol. 1, p. 1214, and vol. 3, p. 3279
  8. ^ a b c "My Favourite Room". Sunday Independent. 15 December 2013 – via pressreader.com.
  9. ^ Andrea Smith (3 April 2017). "'Turtle wasn't slow when it came to love'". Sunday Independent.
  10. ^ Catherine Heaney, ed. (2016). Trinity Tales: Trinity College Dublin in the Nineties. Lilliput Press. p. 119. ISBN 9781843516798. "I subsequently spent a year at Groningen University...", Turtle Bunbury, 'Juris Erratum – Running from the Law,'
  11. ^ Hugh Oram (2016). Charmers and Chancers, Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781490777016.
  12. ^ Trinity Today, Autumn 2016 (Ashville Media Group), p. 76.
  13. ^ "Turtle Bunbury Podcasts". Hidden Histories. Newstalk Radio.
  14. ^ "Turtle Bunbury". IMDb (Internet Movie Database).
  15. ^ Terry Wogan (2012). Wogan's Ireland: A Tour Around the Country that Made the Man. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781471115004.
  16. ^ "Mandy Moore traces her Irish roots to Co Tipperary". IrishCentral.com. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  17. ^ BBC History Magazine, 16 April 2020
  18. ^ Marjorie Quarton (2017). "Review – '1847: A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity and Savagery' by Turtle Bunbury". Books Ireland. January/February 2017 (371). Wordwell Ltd: 34–35. JSTOR 90014347.
  19. ^ "Irish Manor Houses – National Geographic Traveler". Travel. 20 February 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  20. ^ Bunbury, Turtle (24 September 2017). "The Amazing Story of Little Al Cashier, a Transgender Civil War Hero". Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  21. ^ Turtle, Bunbury (27 February 2010). "The Real Craggy Island". The Australian.
  22. ^ Bunbury, Turtle (16 March 2015). "Beyond the blarney: the best hidden gems in Ireland". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  23. ^ Bunbury, Turtle. "A beautiful friendship – General Tom Thumb and PT Barnum". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  24. ^ Passengers get Fast Track to town's past’, The Argus, 19 October 2019; ‘Looking at Sligo history while waiting on the train’, The Sligo Champion, 19 October 2019
  25. ^ Ann Dunne (27 May 2018). "Romance, a mother's wrath and a dilapidated mansion – Infidelity by Ally Bunbury". Irish Independent.
  26. ^ Regina Lavelle (29 January 2017). "Are you ready to rid your life of a toxic friendship?". Irish Independent.
  27. ^ "'Vanishing Ireland' documents the recent past in Ireland that seems a world away". Irish Central. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  28. ^ Charles Lysaght (8 April 2007). "Temp Head". Irish Independent.
  29. ^ "Irish Book Awards shortlist announced". The Irish Times. 1 November 2013.