The Irish have always been a travelling people. In the centuries after the fall of Rome, Irish missionaries carried the word of Christianity throughout Europe, while soldiers and mariners from across the land ventured overseas in all directions. Since the first voyages of St Brendan, an estimated 10 million people have left the Irish shores and today more than 80 million people worldwide claim Irish descent.
The advent of the British Empire ignited a slow but extraordinary exodus from Ireland. The pioneering explorers of the Tudor Age were soon overtaken in number by religious refugees, the ‘Wild Geese’ who opted to live outside of the Protestant state and to take their chances in the Spanish or French empires, or in the fledgling New World of America. Not surprisingly, the Irish played a pivotal role in the foundation of the United States of America, just as they would in the Civil War that followed it nearly eighty years later. Other Irish would come to the fore in business, science, engineering and the arts, while yet more were destined for infamy as mobsters and gunslingers. Turtle Bunbury explores the lives of those men and women, great and otherwise, whose pioneering journeys beyond the Irish shore have left their indelible mark far beyond Ireland.