History Festival of Ireland 2012


In 2012 the inaugural History Festival of Ireland was curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury. This was its website.
Content is from the site's 2012-2013 archived pages.



The History Festival of Ireland 2012
Saturday 9th June - Sunday 10th June

The inaugural History Festival of Ireland is curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury and is part of Eigse 2012. It aspires 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 of them give themselves over to the discussion of History and the things that we have and haven’t learnt from it.

Featuring some of the most learned minds of our generation, the two-day festival will be 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 will look at the heroes and villains of our past, and muse upon ways in which we can make history relevant in the future. We will explore the historical legacies of Catholicism and Empire, of Slavery and Sport, of War and Peace. And we hope to send you home again feeling a little wiser for your visit. As Benjamin Pred, who studied history at Oberlin College, once said, “It’s one thing to read about history in books, but it’s quite another to visit the place in which the history played out.”


Admission to the Festival Marquee is €10 per day, and the Library Talks are an additional €10 per event.


Tickets are €20 for each day of the festival, and enable you to stroll freely between all the talks and events.

Tickets are available through the following options:

At the George Bernard Shaw Theatre Box office (College Street) in Carlow


About Us

  • The History Festival of Ireland is taking place amidst the ruins and walled gardens of Ducketts Grove in Co. Carlow. Admission to the History Festival is €20 per day. Please use the booking pageto find out more about purchasing tickets. We welcome all suggestions and feedback for The History Festival so please share your thoughts with us by using the contact form to the right

Turtle Bunbury

Author and historian Turtle Bunbury is the founding curator of the History Festival of Ireland. Turtle is one of the co-presenters of the ‘Genealogy Roadshow’ the second series of which is shortly to be aired on RTE1. His books include the award-winning Vanishing Ireland series, Sporting Legends of Ireland, The Irish Pub and Living in Sri Lanka. He is also the founder of Wistorical, a Facebook phenomenon you should know all about. See www.wistorical.com or www.turtlebunbury.com






Notes: When the archived version of this site was first posted, we noticed that the US search for "The History Festival of Ireland" had some pretty weird results in Google. On page one, at the top was an article about Irish gangs - something definitely not very inviting. Google has a history of these kinds of errors, some more problematic than others. Some are actually harmful to individuals or businesses. Eventually the search results on this search faded away, but it was live for many months in a way that might have harmed attendance if live during the festival. Google needs to get it's act together, but we think it's more important that the US Congress enact laws requiring them to be more accountable. If you saw the bad result when searching for the festival, you were not the only one.


Useful Info

  • Food

    Picnics are welcome so, if the weather looks right, bring a rug and hamper, but please be sure to clean up afterwards.


    Parking provided to all ticket-holders.



Where lovers of the past take centre stage

Friday, June 08, 2012

By Arlene Harris / www.irishexaminer.com/
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.






  • The speakers for the History Festival of Ireland 2012 are:

    • Ruth Dudley Edwards

      Ruth Dudley Edwards 

      Dubliner Ruth Dudley Edwards is a prize-winning historian and satirical crime novelist as well as a journalist and broadcaster.  Her non-fiction includes Patrick Pearse: the triumph of failure, The Faithful Tribe: an intimate portrait of the loyal institutions and Aftermath: the Omagh bombing and the families’ pursuit of justice.


    • Myles Dungan

      Myles Dungan 

      Myles Dungan is an author and broadcaster who presently hosts ‘The History Show ‘ on RTÉ Radio One. His books include ‘How The Irish Won The West’, ‘The Stealing of the Irish Crown Jewels’ and ‘They Shall Grow Not Old: Irish Soldiers and the Great War’,  'Irish Voices from the Great War', 'Conspiracy: Irish Political Trials' and 'The Captain and the King: William O'Shea, Parnell and late Victorian Ireland.'


    • Kevin Myers

      Kevin Myers 

      Journalist and writer Kevin Myers was born and raised in Leicester in England, and came to Ireland to study History in UCD. He writes for the Irish Independent, having previously written regularly for the "Irishman's Diary" column in The Irish Times. His books include a novel ‘Banks of Green Willow’ and an autobiographical account of his time as a journalist in Northern Ireland called ‘Watching the Door’.


    • Diarmaid Ferriter

      Diarmaid Ferriter 

      Diarmaid Ferriter is Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD and has published extensively on twentieth century Irish history. His books include the bestsellers The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 (2004) and Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the life and legacy of Eamon de Valera (2007). His latest book is Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (2009). He is a regular broadcaster on RTE television and radio.


    • Senator David Norris

      Senator David Norris 

      Senator David Norris is a noted Joycean scholar, a gay, human and civil rights activist, and a member of Seanad Eireann representing Trinity College Dublin since 1987. He most recently came to public notice during his bid to become the 9th President of Ireland.


    • Dr Patrick Geoghegan

      Dr Patrick Geoghegan 

      Dr Patrick Geoghegan has been a lecturer in the Department of History at Trinity College Dublin since 2001. Dr Geoghegan is also the presenter of a weekly history radio show on Newstalk 106-108, Talking History, in which he debates historical issues from the ancient world to the present day.


    • Manchán Magan

      Manchán Magan 

      Manchán Magan is a writer, and documentary maker. His travel programmes for TG4/Travel Channel explored remote cultures. He has written books on India, Africa and South America. His bilingual plays are critically acclaimed.  He writes the Magan’s World column for the Irish Times.


    • Catriona Crowe

      Catriona Crowe 

      Catriona Crowe is Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland. She is Manager of the Irish Census Online Project.  She is editor of Dublin 1911, published by the Royal Irish Academy in late 2011 and contributes regularly to the broadcast and print media on cultural and historical matters.


    • Maurice Walsh

      Maurice Walsh 

      Maurice Walsh is the author of The News from Ireland: Foreign Correspondents and the Irish Revolution and has reported for the BBC from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States. He was the Alistair Horne Fellow at St Anthonys College, Oxford for 2011/12 and teaches journalism at Kingston University.  His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including The New Statesman and the Dublin Review.


    • Joshua Levine

      Joshua Levine 

      Joshua Levine practiced as a barrister for several years before becoming an actor and a writer. His plays have been performed on the London stage and on BBC Radio 4, and he has scripted a television documentary about eighteenth-century London for BBC2.


    • Jeananne Crowley

      Jeananne Crowley 

      Jeananne Crowley is a well known Irish actress and writer. She has written two plays, one of which was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, and has also been a regular contributor to national newspapers, including the Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian and the Irish Times.


    • Robert O'Byrne

      Robert O’Byrne 

      Robert O' Byrne has written prolifically over the last 20 years on Irish life and art for The Irish Times, The Irish Arts Review and Apollo. His books include ‘The History of the Irish Georgian Society’, ‘Hugh Lane, 1875-1915’, ‘Desmond Leslie – The Biography of an Irish Gentleman’ and the upcoming story of Luggala, Co. Wicklow.


    • Dr Pat Wallace

      Dr Pat Wallace 

      Dr Pat Wallace is director of the National Museum of Ireland and is director of the museum’s Dublin city excavation programme. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the area of Viking research and early urbanism.


    • Tommy Graham

      Tommy Graham 

      Tommy Graham has edited History Ireland (a magazine not a journal -historyireland.com) since its foundation in 1993. He currently lectures in history and politics at the Dublin programme of Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. For the last few summers he has been stand-in presenter of Newstalk's 'Talking History'. He is also Director of Historical Insights Ireland Ltd. (historicalinsights.ie) which offers Historical Walking Tours of Dublin. For a video of a previous Hedge School go to


    • Dr Seán Duffy

      Dr Seán Duffy 

      Dr Seán Duffy is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin.  He is currently  Senior Lecturer in Medieval History in the School of Histories and Humanities


    • Tom Sykes

      Tom Sykes 

      Tom Sykes is the Royal Correspondent for the Daily Beast, the online version of Newsweek. He is the author of ‘What Did I Do Last Night?’, ‘Blow by Blow’ (the official autobiography of Isabella Blow) and the forthcoming autobiography of John Taylor of Duran Duran.


    • Micheál Ó Siochrú

      Micheál Ó Siochrú 

      Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú is a native of Dublin and an associate professor in History at Trinity College Dublin. He has written extensively on 17th-century Ireland and is currently involved in major projects relating to the William Petty’s Atlas of Ireland and the letters and papers of Oliver Cromwell. His books include ‘God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the conquest of Ireland’ and 'Confederate Ireland 1642-1649: A constitutional and political analysis'.


    • Sister Maura Duggan

      Sister Maura Duggan 

      Sister Maura Duggan OP  has a life long interest in history. Her earlier research was a study of County Carlow in the decade prior to the Act of Union. Her most recent research  was published in 2010 under the title In Search of Truth Journeys of Nineteenth Century Irish Dominican Women.


    • Fiona Fitzsimon

      Fiona Fitzsimon 

      Fiona Fitzsimons is Research Director of Eneclann, a company she co-founded in 1998.  Fiona and her research team have also completed some of the largest historical research projects ever undertaken in Ireland.  Projects include the Irish Battlefields project, and an audit of the accuracy of the Irish Genealogical Project’s database of 19 million records.    In the media, Eneclann research credits include the U.K., Irish, Australian and Canadian productions of Who Do You Think You Are?,  RTÉ’s Ancestors’ During the Famine, and PBS's Faces of America and Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Loui


    • Michael Sheridan

      Michael Sheridan 

      Michael Sheridan  has written a number of true crime best sellers including Death In December on the murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, Frozen Blood, Tears Of Blood and Murder In Shandy Hall and co -authored the international best seller on a Magdalen Laundry survivor Kathy O Beirne, Don't Ever Tell. Last year he wrote Murder In Monte Carlo.


    • Trevor White

      Trevor White 

      Trevor White is the Director of the Little Museum of Dublin, a new people's museum of Dublin in the 20th Century. Trevor is also the founder of City of a Thousand Welcomes, the founding publisher of The Dubliner Magazine, the founding editor of Ireland's bestselling restaurant guide, The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants, and the author of two books, Kitchen Con: Writing on the Restaurant Racket, and The Dubliner Diaries.


    • Martin Nevin

      Martin Nevin 

      Martin Nevin is a native of Leighlinbridge and a retired lecturer from Carlow RTC/IT.  Presently he is vice chairman of Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society and represents the society on the Museum Board of Directors.  He served as editor of the Society’s journal “Carloviana” for eight years and is now very active on the editorial team.


    • Richard O'Rawe

      Richard O’Rawe 

      Richard O'Rawe is the author 'Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer that Changed Irish History' (2010), and of 'Blanketmen, An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike'(2005), acclaimed by reviewers across the political spectrum. O'Rawe offers rare insight to the hunger strikes of 1981, having personally taken part in the protest from Long Kesh.


    • Marian Lyons

      Marian Lyons 

      Professor Marian Lyons is Head of History at NUI Maynooth. She has published extensively on Franco-Irish relations and on Irish migration to continental Europe in the early modern period, as well as on various aspects of Irish history. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Professor Lyons is Chairperson of the Royal Irish Academy National Committee for Historical Sciences and General Editor of the Maynooth Research Guides for Irish Local History Series. She is also Conference secretary of the Catholic Historical Society of Ireland, and a research cluster leader with An Foras Feasa: the nat


    • Val Byrne

      Val Byrne 

      Val Byrne, architect and artist, was inaugurated Clann Chieftain of the OByrnes in 1992 and went on to be a director and then Chairman of the Clans of Ireland. He has organized many clan rallies and is now promoting DNA research within the Byrne Clann. His illustrated talk will look at some of his experiences over the last 30 years - the Byrnes he has met and the histories of important Byrne name places, in Wicklow and Carlow.


  • Alison Maxwell

    Alison Maxwell 

    Alison Maxwell, co-author of the best-selling 'Jammet's of Dublin, 1901 to 1967', was raised in County Offaly, schooled at Sutton Park in Dublin and completed an MA in Creative Writing from UCD in 2007. She has three children and lives in County Kildare.


  • Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan

    Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan 

    Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan was born in Skerries, Co. Dublin, and has been writing and painting for many years. He has published six novels, as well as a book of paintings of his native Fingal. The Scribbler described his recent book The Devil to Pay  (Lilliput Press 2010) as a balzacian tour-de-force while Books Ireland hailed it as a compelling work of fiction underpinned by solid historical foundations. His next novel, as yet untitled, deals with the Elizabethan conquest of Munster, with special reference to Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Martin Frobisher.
Patrick Devlin

Patrick Devlin 

Patrick Devlin has acted as Treasurer of the Federation for Ulster Local Studies for the last five years and Treasurer of the Ulster History Circle for ten years as well as being a member of several local historical societies. He designs creates and maintains web sites for regional and local historical organizations, including that for Hidden Gems and Forgotten People. Patrick is a member of the joint North/South Federation’s committee who work together to promote the study of local history throughout the island of Ireland.


Paddy Cullivan

Paddy Cullivan 

Paddy Cullivan is the leader of the Late Late Show House Band and the resident Satirist with the Leviathan Political Cabaret. He explores Irish history through maps, slides and song to reveal the quirks and fallacies of our given narrative. His shows 'Irish Maps; Past, Present and Future' and 'You are Now Entering Free Dairy' have entertained audiences all over Ireland, London and New York and he will be bringing his unique approach to the festival.




The History Festival of Ireland 2013
Saturday 15th - Sunday 16th June

Last year’s inaugural History Festival of Ireland was deemed such a worthy and sun-blessed event, that its back. Once again curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury, this year’s event takes place amidst the resplendent ruins and walled gardens of Duckett’s Grove.

Over 40 leading historians and thinkers from Ireland and abroad will resolve and confound in equal measure, audiences will be given plenty of time to debate and question, and a handful of stage performances of a historical tendency will compete for attention with author interviews and other miscellany relating to everything from ancestry to warmongery.

One ticket will give you access to the entire gamut of talks, lectures, performances and debates for the whole day.

Food and refreshments can be purchased throughout the day and parking is free.

Partners include Federation of Local History Societies * History Teachers Association of Ireland * Genealogical Society of Ireland * Carlow Historical & Archaeological Society * RTE Radio One * Carlow County Council * Wistorical * The Gathering Ireland




- From Castledermot (exit 4 off the M9 motorway) take the R418 towards Tullow for 6km and turn right at the signed junction.
- From Carlow take the R726 Hacketstown Road for 10km to Killerig Cross Roads. Turn left at this junction onto the R418 for 2.5km, turn left again at the signed junction.