Ant and Dec lift the lid on their Irish roots
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Ant and Dec lift the lid on their Irish roots

THEY MAY be Britain’s most famous TV duo, but part of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will always belong to Ireland. 

McPartlin was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but his family originally hails from Drumkeeran in Leitrim. 

Donnelly, too, may be a Geordie himself but is also the child of Northern Irish parents, who moved to Newcastle from Desertmartin in Co Londonderry back in the 1950s. 

The presenters appeared on the latest edition of the Late Late Show to further lift the lid on their distinctly Irish roots.  

Donnelly recalled to host Ryan Tubridy how he would spend countless hours as a child at the Tyneside Irish Centre, which was run by his parents, where he developed a love of performing. 

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"My mum and dad ran it and my mum was working there behind the bar the night I was born, she had contractions while washing glasses," he said. "So, she hopped off to hospital and I was born and that’s where I grew up really, in this working men’s club. This Irish cultural centre in Newcastle. 

"I was surrounded by Irish people who were living and working in Newcastle so that was my upbringing for the first ten, eleven years of my life. There was always a stage in the function room and that’s where I got my love of performing." 

Despite developing a taste for the stage, Donnelly briefly considered following his older brother’s example by becoming a priest. 

"My Brother had gone off at 17 and I was about ten or eleven and he’d gone off to seminary and I went to an all-boys Catholic school and one of things they ask you to do is to consider is if you have a vocation and I thought maybe I could do it too! 

"But we were about that age that we saw the girls from the convent school going by and I was much more interested in the girls passing by." 

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McPartlin, meanwhile, spoke about the experience of learning more about his Irish heritage. 

"We did a TV show called Our DNA Journey last year and I didn’t know anything about my heritage,” he told Tubridy. 

"I took a DNA test and went to and I’ve still got relatives in Drumkeeran and I walked into a pub and everyone in the pub was related to me because they’d all taken a DNA. It was a very good-looking pub!" 

He continued "I met a lot of people who I’m still in touch with now and it was great because I knew nothing and suddenly, I got all this information. It was quite an emotional day."   

The presenters also spoke about how they have undergone regularly Covid-19 testing to ensure they can continue to work safely during the pandemic. 

Donnelly explained"We are in what is known as a cohort and we get tested every four days. Our households are linked so we are effectively in a bubble, so we get tested all the time. We’re like premiership footballers - but without the athletic ability." 

Ant and Dec can currently be seen in the latest series of Britain’s Got Talent. 

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