Monday 23 April 2018

Cool cat Clooney's Irish roots revealed

Colin Bartley

Everyone knows George Clooney is a cool cat.

Now his roots have been traced to a village in Co Kilkenny.

The family history expert who helped trace US President Barack Obama's Irish roots has now connected Tullahought in south Kilkenny with the Hollywood superstar.

Tullahought is celebrating the news that the world's most eligible bachelor has relatives in the picturesque village.

They hope the actor, whose new film is aptly named 'The Descendants', will visit the village and his distant family when he embarks on his motorbike tour of Ireland in April of next year.

The discovery of Mr Clooney's roots was kickstarted by a FAS scheme, which put all the local church records online.

From that starting point, Gabriel Murray, the man who helped track down Mr Obama's roots, and local cardiologist Dr Michael Conway put the final pieces into place.

Mr Clooney's great-great-grandfather Nicholas Clooney was born in the village in 1829. Records suggest he left for America in 1847 and there are no records of the Clooneys in the area from the 1850s on.

One of the star's long-lost relatives is Mary Egan, who said the news was "amazing" as she revisited the family homestead at the weekend.

"They told us the connections and we are still going through it all," said Ms Egan.

"When we got the knock on the door and we were told, I was taken aback. It is all still sinking in.

"My mother was born in the house where the Clooneys would have lived," she added.

"My great-grandmother was a relation of the Clooneys, she married a Bourke from the house next door.

"Myself and George Clooney are great-great cousins, or something like that."

Nicholas Clooney might have been a regular at E Power's bar in the village, which originally opened in 1825.

It was used as a community centre, blacksmiths, hardware shop and garage over the years, and was a mecca for traditional music.

Last week, the pub reopened its doors to the public for the first time in 16 years, going against the recent trend of rural pub closures.

The intention is to invite Mr Clooney to the village and the pub where his ancestors drank when he tours Ireland next year.

Another of his distant relatives, Maria Power, said: "It is some coincidence. It's just amazing luck that, in the first week we open the pub, this happens.

"You would hear stories that he might be from here, but it's a great boost for the area that he is.

"It will put Tullahought back on the map," Ms Power added.

As for decorating the pub in Clooney memorabilia, "there is a lot of history in this place and great photos; the likes of the Clancy Brothers played here regularly. We will wait till he arrives and get his photo then," Ms Power said.

Irish Independent

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