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So many of the world’s greatest talents have their roots in the Emerald Isle. One of the best-recognised movie stars of the 21st century, flame-haired actress Nicole Kidman, has several Irish lines on her family tree, discovered thanks to researchers at Eneclann.

Nicole is descended from the Finns, who originated in Castlegregory, a village in County Kerry. The Finns left Ireland’s shores not long before the horrors of the Great Famine struck, but unlike so many, they travelled to Australia of their own free will!

In late 1838, a dairy maid by the name of Mary Finn (nee Gallivan) left her home village of Castlegregory, in County Kerry. Along with her three children under the age of 10, called John, Patrick and Julia, she endured the long crossing from Ireland to Australia in the middle of winter aboard the SS Susan. The family arrived in Sydney at last on 10 March 1839, where they would establish a new life far from their village back home.

John died in 1889, just five years after his mother’s death, in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, roughly a dozen kilometres away from North Sydney, where her famous descendant would later attend school.

Whether they came as free settlers like the Finns, or convicts like Red, the Irish made a significant contribution to Australia. Today, a reported 30 per cent of the population have ancestral ties to Ireland. And significantly, over 10% of the American population – about 33 million people – reported Irish ancestry in the 2013 survey conducted by the US Census Bureau.

Difficult times in the homeland played no small part in fostering these links. During the Great Famine, an estimated million Irish residents left their homeland to seek a new future on foreign shores.

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