Nicknamed "Turtle" by his two older brothers, James Alexander Bunbury is a prize-winning Irish historian and best-selling author. He is also a major presence in Irish broadcasting.
Turtle's most recent book, 1847: A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity, and Savagery (2016), was described by the Oscar-nominated film director Lenny Abrahamson as "vivid, surprising, hugely entertaining — an unforgettable encounter with an extraordinary year."
Turtle's acclaimed study Easter Dawn: The 1916 Rising (2015) focuses on a revolutionary week that changed the course of Irish nationhood. Another of his titles, The Glorious Madness: Tales of the Irish and the Great War (2014), was short-listed for Best Irish-Published Book of 2014.
Over several years, Turtle and photographer James Fennell released volumes in their hugely popular and multi-award-winning Vanishing Ireland series. In addition to the original book, published in 2006, those works are: Further Chronicles of a Disappearing World (2009); Recollections of Our Changing Times (2011); and Friendship and Community (2013).
The Irish Independent's review of the first book noted the "sympathy, understanding and gentle humor" with which Turtle engaged with his subject matter. A major newspaper in the west of Ireland opined, "By turns, beautiful, humorous and moving, Vanishing Ireland depicts life in contemporary rural Ireland in finer and fuller detail than any statistical analysis, opinion poll, or economic survey ever could."
Other books authored by Turtle include: Sporting Legends of Ireland (2010); Dublin Docklands: An Urban Voyage (2009); The Irish Pub (2008); Living in Sri Lanka (2006); The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy of County Wicklow (2005); and The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy of County Kildare (2004).
Turtle's writing also appears in the beloved "Irishman's Diary" section of the Irish Times newspaper. A past winner of Ireland's Long-Haul Travel Journalist of the Year Award, he has seen his travel narratives feature in such leading publications as National Geographic Traveler, the Daily Beast, World of Interiors, the Financial Times, the New York Post, the Australian, Inspirato, the Guardian, and Vogue Living.
Turtle can boast a fine résumé as a broadcaster. He appears regularly on the History Show, a weekly radio production from Ireland's national broadcasting corporation, RTÉ. On television, he helped developed — and was one of the hosts of — the Genealogical Roadshow, which pioneered the genre of tracing a person's family stories back across generations to reveal compelling experiences in such events as Ireland's Great Hunger (the potato famine of the 1840s) or the United Irish Rebellion of 1798, the bloodiest year in the country's history.
Turtle is married to the novelist Ally Bunbury, author of The Inheritance (2017) and the upcoming Infidelty. They reside in Turtle's home county of Carlow in southeastern Ireland with their two daughters.