Hollywood stars you may not know have Irish heritage

Hollywood Stars You May Not Know Have Irish Heritage
Model and author Emily Ratajkowski’s full name is Emily O’Hara Ratajkowski. Photo: Getty
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By Imy Brighty-Potts, PA

While Ireland has no shortage of homegrown superstars – like Cillian Murphy and the late, great Sinead O’Connor – there are famous faces all over the world with Irish heritage.

So, which Hollywood stars have Irish links you may not know about?


Tom Cruise

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One UK premiere
Tom Cruise has centuries-old Irish roots (Ian West/PA)

The 61-year-old actor, born in New York and best known for his roles in Top Gun and the Mission Impossible series, is actually called Tom Cruise Mapother IV – and has Irish heritage dating back centuries. In fact, the star himself only discovered the extent of these roots during a visit to Ireland in 2013, when genealogists Fiona Fitzsimons and Helen Moss researched the origins of his name.

Mapother has English roots but the Cruise family name can be traced back to 12th century Ireland. Historically, a Cruise was a knight of the infamous Strongbow, according to the Irish Family History Centre. The Cruises were granted land in north Dublin, and so their legacy began.


Emily Ratajkowski

The MET Gala 2019 – New York
Emily Ratajkowski spends her summers in Cork (Jennifer Graylock/PA)

Model and author Emily Ratajkowski’s full name is Emily O’Hara Ratajkowski – and she has a big connection to Ireland.

Born in London and mostly raised in California, the 32-year-old used to spend summers in Ireland and has previously talked about having Irish heritage on both sides of her family. Plus, her artist father has now lived in Cork for over 20 years, where she still regularly visits.

“I absolutely love Ireland. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and I have strong ties here,” Ratajkowski said in an interview in 2013. “I love the pubs – the fact that you can find all ages there. It’s so easy-going, an old man could be dancing with a young girl having a bit of fun and no one bats an eyelid.”


Meryl Streep

Mary Poppins Returns European Premiere – London
Meryl Streep’s heritage goes back to Donegal (Matt Crossick/PA)

The Mamma Mia! and The Devil Wears Prada star also has roots in Ireland. The 74-year-old’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Manus McFadden and Grace Strain, were from the Horn Head district of Dunfanaghy in Donegal.

Streep visited Donegal in 1998 for a screening of the movie version of Brian Friel’s play, Dancing At Lughnasa. She later told RTÉ Radio’s Ryan Tubridy Show in 2018: “I had a wonderful time, an especially wonderful moment up in Donegal, where we were in a town and the kids got up at a school and they danced for us and we had a little Guinness as well on the way in. It was sort of one of the most magical afternoons of my life and unforgettable.”


Christina Aguilera

The 95th Academy Awards – Vanity Fair Party – Los Angeles
Christina Aguilera’s mother has Irish roots (Doug Peters/PA)

Singing superstar Christina Aguilera (42) was born in Staten Island, New York. Her father’s Ecuadorian, while her mother, Shelly Kearns, has Irish roots.

Aguilera’s parents separated when she was young, and she was mostly raised by her mother. In 2018, the star posted a picture of herself in Dublin on Instagram, with the caption: “Proud of my Irish roots.”


Ryan Reynolds

Wrexham v Boreham Wood – Vanarama National League – The Racecourse Ground
Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds is a proud Irish-Canadian (Martin Rickett/PA)

Deadpool star, Hollywood heart-throb and Wrexham FC co-owner Ryan Reynolds may have been born and raised in Canada, but he has a surprising Irish link.

During an interview in 2011, the 46-year-old talked about visiting Ireland with his brother. “Yes. I’ve been to Dublin and Galway. My brother and I just toured around there for a while. We have relatives there, whom we completely avoided,” he joked. The actor was also raised in a Catholic household.

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