The wildest Irishman of all? Documentary On Newstalk profiles Buck Whaley

How one man gained and squandered a fortune in 18th century Ireland.

This Saturday, Documentary On Newstalk explores the life and times of Buck Whaley – an 18th century rake who was handed a fortune and gambled it all…including betting fifteen thousand pounds that he could make it to Jerusalem and back within two years.  But did he make it? Zoe Comyns presents Buck Whaley and his Wonderful Wagers.

Thomas Whaley was an 18th century Irish rake who lived a wild life, squandering a personal fortune. He has become immortalised as the epitome of an Irish eccentric.

Buck ‘Jerusalem’ Whaley, as he was known, was famous for having travelled to Jerusalem (in 1789) and back for a bet of £15,000, having played handball against the Wailing Wall amidst the protests of outraged rabbis.

Buck having served as an MP and in the House of Commons eventually fled to the Isle of Man to escape financial embarrassment and after having had an encounter with the Devil in St. Audoen's Church, in Dublin. He built a house in Douglas on the Isle of Man. The foundations were of the house, known as 'Whaley's Folly’, were built up of Irish earth, which he brought in by the shipload, in order to win a bet that he could live on Irish soil, without actually living in Ireland.

This documentary will bring to life one of the most colourful characters of 18th century Ireland. Expert historians will piece together Buck Whaley’s life giving the listener an insight into the quintessential man-about-town, rake and betting man in Irish history. Featuring Declan Brennan as Buck, Patrick Geoghegan, David Ryan, Donal Fallon, Jerry O’Reilly, Ruth Ferguson and Mervyn Whaley.


LISTEN LIVE: ‘Buck Whaley and his Wonderful Wagers will be broadcast this weekend on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday June 17th at 10pm with repeat broadcast on Sunday June 18th at 8am

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE: Buck Whaley and his Wonderful Wagers can also be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available at: after the broadcast

CREDITS: ‘‘Buck Whaley and his Wonderful Wagers was produced by Zoe Comyns with thanks to Maria Delaney. Additional research by Norma Burke who also edited the programme. It was supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with the Television License Fee, as part of the Sound and Vision Scheme.