Mandy Moore in tears after learning of Irish ancestor’s tragic death in Famine era workhouse
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Mandy Moore in tears after learning of Irish ancestor’s tragic death in Famine era workhouse

MANDY MOORE was left in tears after learning of her Irish ancestor’s tragic death while researching her family history for a TV show.

The actress and singer travelled to Cashel, Co. Tipperary for the season premiere of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? which aired on TLC in the States on Monday.

Moore cried after discovering that her great-great-great-great-grandmother Mary Flynn died aged 40 in a workhouse for the poor.

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Mary had lived in the institution with her daughters Mary and Ellen after Ireland was devastated by the Great Famine.

The star learned that Mary would have been buried unceremoniously in the garden or by the workhouse wall without a wake, funeral or grave marker.

“They were hell on earth. This was the last resort,” local historian Turtle Bunbury told her.

Moore laid flowers at the site where the workhouse would have stood.

“It’s oddly emotional to feel connected to someone whose name I didn’t even know just a few days ago, I didn’t even know she existed,” she said.

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“I’m honoured and humbled that I could be a representative of the family to just tell her that she’s not forgotten,” she added.

Australia journey

Moore, whose grandmother Eileen was from Essex, had believed all her ancestors were from England.

However she also discovered on the show that Mary’s daughter Ellen emigrated to Australia.

Following her mother’s death, 15-year-old Ellen spent four months on board the Lady Peel in 1849.

Moore visited the immigration depot where Ellen spent three months following her arrival from Ireland.

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Ellen, who worked as a servant for a government official while Down Under, married Englishman Edwin F Barney in New South Wales in 1855.

She eventually emigrated again to her husband’s hometown of Wolverhampton in England and had five children.

She relocated to London, where she died in 1909, aged 75.

“Ultimately I feel like it was a pretty winning life,” said Moore.

“Ellen was a survivor, and I think what saw her through was her own determination.”