Celebrities with Irish fathers

Celebrities with Irish fathers

1. Natalie Merchant (singer)

Natalie was lead singer with 10,000 Maniacs before launching her solo career. Her paternal grandfather was from Sicily and played accordion, mandolin and guitar, while her maternal Irish grandfather was a piano tuner and member of a barbershop quartet. No wonder a career in music beckoned. It’s just a pity she didn’t make accordion playing part of her own act.



2. Samantha Power (diplomat and writer)

Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, is also an academic and author. Not only is her father Irish, but her mother is too, and Samantha was born in Castleknock, Co. Dublin. She lived there until she was nine, when her parents relocated to America.



3. Henry Ford (industrialist)

Henry Ford, the car magnate, more or less invented the modern world with his pioneering of cheap, affordable motoring. He totally bucked prevailing trends, saying once: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.” Ford’s father was from Co. Cork.



4. John Ford (film director)

Born John Martin "Jack" Feeney, the director of films such as Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Grapes of Wrath and The Quiet Man, was of Irish stock. His father, John Augustine Ford, came from Spiddal, Co. Galway. John Martin Ford was one of 11 children. Incidentally, Harrison Ford (no relation) also had an Irish grandfather.



5. Grace Kelly (princess and actress)

Grace Kelly’s grandfather Kelly’s grandfather, John Henry Kelly, migrated from Newport in Co. Mayo. After a successful acting career, Grace married Prince Rainier of Monaco becoming Princess Grace of Monaco.



6. Boy George (singer)

George O’Dowd comes from a Tipperary family. Both his mother and father were originally from Thurles. Before taking on the name Boy George, the young O’Dowd had been known as Lieutenant Lush, although not widely so in Thurles.



7. & 8. The Gallaghers (rock stars)

The lovable Gallagher brothers Noel and Liam can boast both an Irish mother and father. It would be fair to say they had a troubled relationship with their father, with their childhood best being described as ‘unhappy’.



9. Greer Garson (actress)

Oscar-winning actress Greer Garson had strong Co. Down roots. Her mother was from Drumaloor, Casar, Co. Down, and her grandfather from Castlewellan. She won an Academy Award for best actress (Mrs Miniver), and her subsequent Oscar acceptance speech made history — the Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest one ever, at five minutes and 30 seconds. After this the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.

Those long-winded Co. Down people, eh?



10. Joffrey Baratheon (King)

Joffrey Baratheon is the son of King Robert Baratheon and Queen Cersei Lannister, neither of whom are Irish — they’re from King’s Landing. We are, of course talking Game of Thrones here, and in real life Joffrey is actor Jack Gleeson from Cork, where his Irish father and mother live. Jack has now left the series to study theology and philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. Philosophy, eh? Makes you think.



11. Denis Leary (comedian)

Denis Leary’s was born in Massachusetts, USA, the son of immigrants from Co. Kerry. He travels under an Irish passport — but presumably whips his US passport out if he has to stand in the immigrants’ queue at JFK.

And perhaps taking a leaf out of his Co. Kerry heritage he says: “Nobody can make more fun of me than I already make of myself.”



12. Duke of Wellington (soldier)

With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo this year, we couldn’t leave out Dublin’s second most famous Arthur — Arthur Wellesley. Aka the Duke of Wellington, his father Garrett was Irish — as was his mother — but there is some confusion over Arthur’s birthplace. His father asserted he was born on the Dublin packet boat, but most experts cite Merrion Street.

Wellington wasn’t the reluctant Irishman that he is often made out to be. There is no proof that he ever uttered the line: “Because a man is born in a stable does not make him a horse.” The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations passes mutely over the subject.

Au contraire — as Samuel Beckett once said when asked if he was English — Wellington played the fiddle and, in his earlier years at least, spoke with an Irish accent. Today in England you can drink in some 53 pubs called the Duke of Wellington.