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9 people you probably never knew had Irish roots

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Ancestry: Both Ali and Cobain had Irish roots of varying degrees
Ancestry: Both Ali and Cobain had Irish roots of varying degrees

The Irish have flung themselves around the world for as long as we care to remember.

And we have the proven genealogy to prove it. 

In celebration of St Patrick's Day we have a look at 9 people who you probably never knew had Irish roots. 

Kurt Cobain

In 1993, Kurt Cobain did an interview with a magazine in which he discussed his Irish roots. 
 
"I never really knew about my ancestors until this year, when I learned that the name Cobain was Irish", he said. "My parents had never bothered to find that stuff out. I found out by looking through phone books throughout America for names that were similar to mine. I couldn't find any Cobains at all, so I started calling Coburns. I found this one lady in San Francisco who had been researching our family history for years.
 
"Actually [the name] was Cobain, but the Coburns screwed it up when they came over. They came from County Cork, which is a really weird coincidence, because when we toured Ireland, we played in Cork and the entire day I walked around in a daze. I'd never felt more spiritual in my life. It was the weirdest feeling and I have a friend who was with me who could testify to this I was almost in tears the whole day. Since that tour, which was about two years ago, I've had a sense that I was from Ireland.2
 
Muhammed Ali
 
 
The legendary heavy-weight boxer's great grandfather was born in Ennis in County Clare. In 2009 Ali traveled to Ennis to explore his Irish ancestry. The small town in was home to Abe Grady, Ali’s great-grandfather, who left Ireland for the United States in the 1840s during the Great Famine.
 
Olivia Wilde
 
 
Wilde's father is Irish journalist Andrew Cockburn, whose father was a left-wing journalist and novellist who eft England during World War 2. The actress, who also took her stage name from writer Oscar Wilde, used to spend her summers in  Ardmore in County Waterford. 
 
Barack Obama 
 
 
One of the most powerful men on the planet has ancestry on his mother's side. Obama's roots in Ireland go back to around 1850, when Falmouth Kearney, a 19-year-old son of a local shoemaker, left Moneygall to begin a new life in the United States. U.S. Census records from 1860 show that Falmouth, a farmhand, his wife Charlotte and several children were living in Deerfield, Ohio. Obama is the great-great grandson of Falmouth Kearney’s youngest daughter, Mary Ann.
 
Walt Disney
 
 
The enigmatic animator has Irish roots on his father's side. His great-grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney, emigrated to the United States from Gowran, County Kilkenny, where he was born in 1801. In 1832 Arundel Elias Disney married Maria Swan, who gave birth to their son Kepple, Walt Disney’s grandfather, on November 2 of the same year. 
 
Billy the Kid
 
 
The notorious gunslinger, whose real name was Henry McCarthy, was born in New York to two Irish immigrant parents. His mother's name was Catherine McCarthy and his father's name was Patrick McCarthy. They travelled to America where Henry was to become one of America's most notorious gunslinger - Billy the Kid. 
 
Robert de Niro
 
 
Yep, the greatest 'Italian' face on screen actually has Irish roots. Three of his four grandparents are Irish. And the actor even hitched his way around Ireland as a young chap. "I hitchhiked from Dublin to Galway and took the ferry to the Aran Islands, then I went down through the south", he said. "People gave me blankets for sleeping outside and I had breakfast with them in the morning. They were very friendly."
 
Jimi Hendrix
 
 
The greatest guitar player that ever lived was part Irish on his mother's side. Jimi's mother Nora Moore was the daughter of a Cherokee Indian woman and an Irishman. 
 
Jim Morrison
 
 
Jim Morrison of The Doors was also part-Irish, and his bandmate Ray Manzarek once said: "It was Jimbo -- the alter-ego of Jim Morrison, that dark, Irish drunk -- who took himself to Paris. And Jimbo killed my friend Jim." 
 
You can listen to him here talking about his Irishness...