Celeb stories

Irishman discovers he is a distant relative of Hollywood superstar

An Irishman was delighted to discover that he was a distant relative of one of the most admired and loved actors in the world.

Most people enjoy digging into their family history to learn more about their ancestors and the lives they led.

There can even be surprise links to notable characters from history. One famous example came when British actor Danny Dyer was shocked to learn that he was a distant relative King Edward III.

However, it is also possible to find that you are related to some of famous names of today, as was the case for Jimmy Lafferty of Co Donegal.

Jimmy was delving into his family tree with the help of genealogy company Eneclann when they found an unexpected link to the Queen of Hollywood Meryl Streep.

The Oscar-winning star is one of the most respected actors in Hollywood and is often seen as a role model and inspiration to young performers.

Streep had researched into her own family history in the past and knew that her Irish descendants had lived in Co Donegal.

She even named her daughter Grace, after her great-great grandmother Grace Strain.

It turns out that the niece of Grace Strain was Jimmy’s grandmother, meaning that he and the Hollywood legend share a great-great-great grandmother.

He was very pleased when the link was made and has invited his fourth cousin Meryl to come and visit him.

Jimmy runs a holiday home business in the fishing town of Dunfanaghy in Co Donegal, so he has plenty of room for houseguests.

He said: “This is such a nice surprise. The old Strain house where Grace lived has been tumbled but I built a lovely new holiday home in its place and if Meryl Streep wants to come and see us all, she’ll get the traditional cead mile failte and she can stay in the house.”

Like many Americans, Streep has Irish heritage and has shown an interest in the past in finding out more about her family history.

She has been offered the perfect opportunity to learn more from a first-hand source, as Jimmy laughed he has stories about the family in his town that go back generations.

He said: “Ms Streep is a fine actress and it would be wonderful to meet her. I can tell her about three generations back of the family here that stayed in Donegal.”

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