George Clooney is planning a visit to Ireland, the homeland of his ancestors.
The debonair actor recently confirmed that he is set to visit the Emerald Isle this summer with his wife, British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. The couple wed in September in a lavish ceremony in Venice, Italy.
"I'm embarrassed that I've never properly been there before now,” Clooney told the Irish Independent. In a 2013 interview with IrishCentral’s sister publication Irish America magazine he said that he’d “been in Dublin before, but never with my folks. My dad went to Ireland two years ago and found a town called Clooney. When he told them his name, he said everyone insisted on buying him drinks and he got smashed and had a great time!”
He has much to look forward to, including time with his friend Bono and visits to some of Amal’s favorite Irish sites.
“I've been talking about going there for years and Bono has been trying to get me to do a bike ride around Ireland with him,” Clooney told the Independent.
"He probably won't be up for that now, but I'm definitely going to make a visit happen this summer. Amal has been several times, so she can show me around."
The 53-year-old actor has Irish heritage on both sides of his family, though most significantly on the paternal side.
His father’s great-great-grandfather Nicholas Clooney, emigrated to the US from County Kilkenny. The surname Clooney is an anglicized version of the Gaelic O’Cluanaigh, which translates as a descendant of Clugnach, meaning a rogue or a flatterer. Clooney’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Guilfoyle.
The fame gene also seems to run though his paternal line. His father is the famed broadcaster Nick Clooney and the late singer Rosemary Clooney was his aunt.
The Clooney roots lie in County Kilkenny, and the family has been trying to uncover more information about their Irish ancestors for a number of years.
A genealogist with findmypast.ie, Fiona Fitzsimmons, uncovered new information about the Clooney family earlier this year.
Clooney’s Irish ancestors were small farmers from Windgap, County Kilkenny.
Nicholas Clooney was one of many cottiers in Windgap the 1850s who fell afoul of "middlemen" who tried to force farmers off the land so they could amalgamate small holdings into bigger farms. This situation often tipped-over into violence.
Fitzsimmons uncovered court records showing that in 1852 Nicholas Clooney was violently assaulted and for months was harassed through the court-system. He decided shortly after to leave Ireland and settle in Kentucky.
It has also recently emerged that Sarah Clooney, one of the Clooney ancestors to remain in Ireland, worked in a factory that made the carpeting for the doomed Belfast ship RMS Titanic.
A spokesperson for the site Irishheritagetowns.com said that Clooney’s father, Nick, is set to receive a Certificate of Irish Heritage, and that one might be made for George too now that he has plans to visit Ireland.
"We've now got a certificate for Irish heritage for [George's father] Nicholas Clooney, signed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan. We're ready to present it to him. This means that George Clooney could easily get one as well."
So! What should Amal and George Clooney do while in Ireland?
A visit with Bono in Dalkey seems to be in the cards, and County Kilkenny has many luxurious and historic options for accommodation, such as the Mount Juliet Estate – just 20 minutes away from Kilkenny City and boasting a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and a Michelin starred restaurant.
In any case, something tells us the glamorous couple won’t be likely follow in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who made two visits to the cinema during their Irish honeymoon last summer!
Do you have other Irish itinerary ideas for the Clooneys? Chime in via the comment section.