The ancestors of Hollywood actor George Clooney emigrated to America after they had been violently forced off their land.
The discovery was made by Fiona Fitzsimons who found the court records on the website findmypast.
The newly available records show that George’s great great grandfather, Nicholas Clooney was a farmer in Windgap, Co Kilkenny.
In the 1850s, Nicholas and many other cottiers in Windgap came under pressure from powerful landowners who wanted to take their land to create bigger farms.
Anyone who resisted faced intimidation and often violence. It was not uncommon for homes to be burnt down to frighten people into leaving.
Nicholas Clooney was harassed through the court system for several months before the situation took a sinister turn. Court records show that Nicholas was one of many farmers to be violently assaulted.
He eventually decided to leave Ireland and travel to America to escape the intimidation and to start a new life. He settled in Kentucky which is the birthplace of his superstar descendent, George.
Fitzsimmons said: “Now through a family connection and for the first time, we have photographs of the old Clooney house and farm taken in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The photos show a way of life now vanished. It’s closer in time, and probably also in terms of experience, to the life of the immigrant Clooneys.”
Clooney has visited Ireland with his family and enjoyed his trip. He said: “I’ve been to Dublin before with my folks.
“My Dad went to Ireland and when he told them his name, he said everyone insisted on buying him drinks and he got smashed and had a great time!”
The Clooneys went onto to be a prominent family in American show business. George is the most famous but his auntie Rosemary Clooney was a successful jazz singer and actress. His father, Nick Clooney was a game show host and his cousins Miguel and Rafael Ferrer were also actors.