THE world’s most sought after heart throb is a true Cat. Adored by millions of women around the world, George Clooney is in fact from South Kilkenny.
A painstaking search of one of the most beautiful parts of the county has unearthed the derelict house where Mr Clooney’s great-great-grandfather was born and his baptismal cert.
The Mayor of the city, Cllr David Fitzgerald has written to Mr Clooney’s agent in California, inviting the star of the TV series ER and films like Oceans 11, The Fantastic Mr Fox, Syriana, Michael Clayton and his latest feature, The Ides Of March to Kilkenny next April when he is in Ireland. And paradoxically his next film which will be released next January is called, The Descendants.
Other genealogists had tried to link Mr Clooney with various areas of Kilkenny but could not. However, the research work by Gabriel Murray, the Kilkenny film maker and author along with cardiologist Dr Michael Conway led to the amazing discovery of the baptismal cert for Mr Clooney’s great-great-grandfather from 1829 which is printed on the front page of Section 2 of this week’s issue.
Mr Clooney announced recently that he is returning to Ireland in search of his roots. He will not have far to look. Following the news, Mr Murray started investigating and discovered that George’s antecedent was a Nicholas Clooney from Windgap. The baptismal cert of Nicholas Clooney had not been found.
A Fás community employment scheme recently computerised all the birth records in Ireland. When Gabriel discovered the relevant certificate last week, in Tullahought not Windgap, it revealed that Nicholas Clooney was baptised in Windgap church on 23 July 1829 and was from Knockeen, Tullahought.
The next problem was the location of the actual townland where Nicholas was born and site of the ancestral home. A valuable source of information was Griffith’s valuation of 1850, a census of all households in Ireland. The missing link between the cert was found, confirming that Nicholas was from the townland of Knockeen.
Gabriel travelled down to Tullahought and started searching for George’s ancestral home. After two hours climbing the hills of Knockeen, he and Dr Conway located the ancestral home. On Griffith’s map a cluster of houses nestled at the foothills of Knockeen. When they knocked on the front door of one of the houses, they were greeted by Peter Purcell and his son, Paul.
On checking Nicholas’ birth cert, Gabriel discovered that Peter’s great-granduncle, Patrick Bourke, had been godfather at Nicholas Clooney’s christening in 1849. Nicholas’ father was David Clooney, and his mother was Mary McGrath. The McGrath family are all now deceased.
Peter Purcell recalled how his ancestors the Clooneys had uprooted overnight and left for Kentucky. Peter mentioned that his relative, Mary Egan’s mother, was also a Bourke. The McGraths and the Bourkes had married into the Clooney clan in the 18th century.
Nicholas Clooney had left for America and settled in Kentucky, circa 1847.