John Hurt loved Ireland and was bitterly disappointed to discover he had no Irish roots
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John Hurt loved Ireland and was bitterly disappointed to discover he had no Irish roots

AWARD-WINNING actor Sir John Hurt has died aged 77.

The formidable and distinguished actor had battled pancreatic cancer in 2015 and passed away on Wednesday at his home in Norfolk.

He was known for roles in films such as the Harry Potter series, Alien and The Elephant Man and had recently starred in the JFK biopic Jackie starring Natalie Portman.

Though born in Derbyshire, the British actor had always expressed a strong affinity to Ireland.

In fact, starring in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? in 2007 he was bitterly disappointed to discover that a family tale of Irish roots could not be proven true.

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As a boy he had been told that his great grandmother, Emma Stafford, was the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Sligo.

However genealogists were unable to prove any link between John's family and the Marquis of Sligo - nor did they they find any ancestry in Ireland.

John had described being Irish as one of his "bankers" in life.

"I felt it was home, it isn't," he revealed poignantly.

Scroll down to see a video of the actor on his quest to find his Irish roots

Tributes have been pouring in for the actor across social media.

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Watch the poignant moment John Hurt discovers his Irish roots were not as he thought...