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New book by Turtle Bunbury

Carlow author Turtle Bunbury has just seen the publication of his latest work – a collection of tales of characters and events from the year 1847.

It’s a year that may be most remembered in Ireland as ‘Black 47’ because of the Famine, but for Bunbury, it has other significance. It’s the year his family’s ancestral home, Lisnavagh House near Rathvilly, was constructed.

The book, ‘1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity & Savagery’, includes stories about the Famine including a story of the generosity of the Choctaw Indians of Oklahoma to the ‘starving Irish’. Another concerns Sultan Abdülmecid of the Ottoman Empire who made a well-known donation, creating a curious bond between Constantinople and Drogheda. For this book, Bunbury has assembled a collection of remarkable stories from those 12 months, and with an emphasis on the quirky, it bristles with all manner of life and human endeavour.

Stories of famed personalities

The stories run in chronological order as the year progresses and the reader is introduced to weird and wonderful tales and personalities, such as: 

  • Stephen Foster, a young Mississippi shipping agent from Pennsylvania, whose song-writing exploits provided ‘Oh Susanna’ and ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’.
  • Mary Anning, who became the most brilliant fossil collector in the 1820s and 1830s and inspired the tongue twister, ‘She sells seashells upon the sea shore.’
  • Cartier, the son of a Napoleonic soldier who established one of the world’s most famous jewellery and watch-making brands.
  • The rival Russian circus masters who had an extraordinary showdown in the city of St Petersburg.
  • The adventures of John Joshua Proby from County Wicklow, a friend of writer Edward Lear, who is known as ‘The Father of Nonsense’.

It also tells tales of Arctic explorers and of Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico against the USA. 

‘1847’ is published by Gill Books, and has an RRP of €24.99. It can be purchased on Amazon here.

Turtle Bunbury has already published a number on historical topics, and he is also known as a journalist, genealogist, and TV presenter. 

He lives close to Tullow with his wife and two daughters.


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