Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll pulled in more than five million viewers in Ireland and Britain, as he discovered the truth about his grandfather’s murder on the BBC family history programme Who Do You Think You Are?
The popular comedian delved into his family’s history, most notably the circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s death. Peter O’Carroll was murdered in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence, by members of the British Army’s special unit, the Cairo Gang.
Ireland was in the middle of its fight for self-governance, and independence from British rule. The Irish Republican Army was led by Michael Collins, who ordered a series of guerrilla type attacks on British forces throughout Ireland.
O’Carroll’s grandfather, Peter, was murdered by the Cairo Gang after he refused to give up information about the whereabouts of known IRA members.
The Cairo Gang was a unit of specialist British agents, drafted in to assist in the conflict in Ireland. They had a reputation of being cunning, intelligent and highly ruthless. It was revealed that Peter O’Carroll was one of their victims. His nine-year-old son, Gerard (Brendan O’Carroll’s father), was also shot along with his father, and left for dead. Thankfully, he was rushed to hospital and managed to survive the attack.
On the show, O’Carroll discovered that the man responsible for the murder was former British Army Major, Jocelyn Lee Hardy, a veteran of the First World War.
O’Carroll was visibly moved as the details of the murder were uncovered. Upon the full story being revealed, he commented that: “We’re beyond justice I think, but at least we got the truth.”
The emotive story attracted more than 5.3m viewers for Who Do You Think You Are? It was the show’s highest figures for more than three years.
O’Carroll has become a hugely popular figure in recent years, after the success of his sit-com Mrs Brown’s Boys, in which he plays a foul-mouthed, traditional, head-of the-family Irish mammy.