“The ‘Freddie Starr Ate my Hamster’ story of Irish genealogy”
Genealogists have shown that the story of George Clooney’s Irish roots, widely publicised earlier this year, doesn’t stand up to closer examination.
Although ‘Gorgeous George’s’ ancestors did in fact originate in Knockeen, Windgap in South Kilkenny research commissioned by the Burke Family has shown that most of the story broken in 2011, has no factual basis.
The Clooney family were not evicted during the Famine, but remained on their land until the mid 1850s when it was sold as a bankrupt’s estate.
The younger generation of Clooney’s emigrated as a group.
And there is no proven link to a family of the same name in Abbeyleix despite bogus attempts to claim there are.
Furthermore, the Kilkenny People has learned there has been no contact whatsoever between with the actor, his agent in Los Angeles and the Clooney wanabees in Abbeyleix.
And George Clooney’s ancestors have no proven link with the Titanic.
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Noreen Burke Hayes, a direct relation of George Clooney, declared herself satisfied with the research commissioned from Eneclann, the country’s most respected genealogist specialists. “We were brought into the story, because my ancestral home in Knockeen, is in fact the Clooney homestead,” she explained.
“My great-great grandmother Mary Welsh was a niece of the Clooneys. In the 1850s the younger generation of Clooneys left for America, and my great-great grandmother and her husband, newly married, took over the family farm. The house and land has passed by descent through my family to the present generation - in fact I was the last family member born there,” she told the Kilkenny People.
“We’re not historians but we wondered how the Clooneys could have been evicted from Knockeen during the Famine, and yet still be there in the 1850s,” Noreen said.
Eneclann’s research director Fiona Fitzsimons commented: “When we began research on the Clooney family of Knockeen, our first real problem was to differentiate fact from fiction. The story was based on actual research undertaken in 2005 by an American genealogist, but it added a whole layer of new material including the claim that George Clooney’s ancestors made carpets for the Titanic. As professional genealogists our research team is used to family stories that have been embroidered in the telling over generations. But this was the ‘Freddie Starr Ate my Hamster’ story of Irish genealogy. All joking aside, genealogy is real history, albeit sketched out on a smaller canvas. It’s a shame to see it being misappropriated in this way.”
Some years ago, Geoge Clooney’s father Nick came to Kilkenny to find his roots and went to Windgap but never made it to the ancestral home