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Famous Folks with Surprising Irish Roots

It’s St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the holiday, we took a look into the World Family Tree to explore the surprising Irish heritage of a few celebrities.

Check them out below and share how you’re connected too!

Martin Sheen

Georges Biard / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Actor Martin Sheen was born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez to Francsico Malabe Estévez and Mary Anne Phelan. Both of Sheen’s parents were immigrants to the United Sates. His father was born in Galicia, Spain while his mother was born in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, Ireland. In fact, Sheen holds dual citizenship in Ireland thanks to his mother.

Robert De Niro

Petr Novák, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Although known as one of the most famous Italian-American actors in Hollywood, Robert De Niro has quite a bit of Irish ancestry. His maternal grandmother, Helen O’Reilly, was of Irish descent and he has spent years trying to uncover his Irish relatives. As a young man, De Niro traveled through Ireland, hitchhiking his way from Dublin to the Aran Islands.

Grace Kelly

Library of Congress

Before she became the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Her paternal grandfather, John Henry Kelly, was born in Drimula, County Mayo, Ireland on July 29, 1848. In 1869, he left Ireland for the United States where he met and married Mary Ann Costello, also an Irish immigrant.

John and Mary can be found in the 1900 U.S. census in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with their children, including John, future 3 time Olympic gold medal winner and father of Grace Kelly. Mary’s father, Walter Costello, was also living with them at the time.

1900 U.S. census / MyHeritage SuperSearch

Barack Obama

Wikimedia Commons

President Barack Obama has some distant Irish roots. His third great grandfather, Fulmoth Kearney, was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19. In 2011, President Obama paid a visit to the small Irish village of Moneygall, where his third great grandfather once lived.

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Here are the Kearney’s in the 1860 U.S. census in Deerfield Township, Ohio.

1860 U.S. census / MyHeritage SuperSearch

Walt Disney

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Walt Disney’s Irish roots can be traced back to his great grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney. Arundel was born in Kilkenny, Ireland and immigrated to Ontario, Canada with his family. His son and Walt’s paternal grandfather, Kepple Elias, would later marry Mary Richardson, also an Irish immigrant and move to the United States.

Drew Barrymore

David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Actress Drew Barrymore comes from a long line of distinguish actors. Not only were her paternal grandparents actors, legendary stage icon John Barrymore and actress Dolores Costello, but so were each of her paternal great grandparents. Drew’s Irish roots come from her second great grandfather, John Drew, who was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1827. In 1832, he immigrated to the United States with his family and became a stage actor and theater manager.

John Drew / Wikimedia Commons

John and his wife, Louisa, can be found in the 1860 U.S. census in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with their children, Louisa E., John W.S., and Georgiana E., who is Drew’s great grandmother.

1860 U.S. census / MyHeritage SuperSearch

Do you have Irish roots? Explore these famous family trees and share how you’re connected!


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