Genealogists discover Massachusetts strangers are rightful heirs to $1.5 million estate in Ireland

Cousins Margaret Shaughnessy of Newton (left) and Patricia Shaughnessy Fontaine of West Roxbury grew up a few miles from each other but met for the first time last year.

With the cousins agreeing to meet, the creators of ‘Dead Money’ knew they had television on their hands.

“We wanted to have the ‘Oh my God!’ when they met each other,” said O’Connell, whose inspiration for the show came after seeing the state’s unclaimed property list published in The Boston Globe while visiting the city several years ago.

“When this family walked in, I recognized them immediately from the family resemblance,” said O’Connell. “It was amazing, it was extraordinary.”

At the unexpected family reunion, Patricia Fontaine also said she could see the family resemblance between her own father and Roger Shaughnessy.

“It was really fascinating really how people look like each other,” the 60-year-old Fontaine said. “We couldn’t get over some of the stuff. It was so familiar.”

One of Broderick’s cousins from Galway was even flown in by the ‘Dead Money’s production company.

“She shared her stories about Mary with us,” Schiavone said. “It made it better; it wasn’t just this random check from somebody we didn’t even know. . . . You can put a face to somebody now, because we really didn’t know anything about Mary, except that she passed away and she had this home. It made it more tangible for us.”

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