American actress Olivia Wilde has spoken about her childhood summers in Ireland and her pride in being an Irish citizen.
Unusually, she qualified for Irish citizenship, despite not having any Irish blood.
Wilde has become a big star over the past 15 years thanks to starring roles in TV shows such as The OC, House and Vinyl.
She has also starred in a string of hit movies including Alpha Dog, Tron: Legacy, In Time, Her and Rush.
While Wilde is an all-American star, Ireland had a big impact on her in her formative years.
She said: “A lot of my growth as a child and a lot of my happiness with the people I was surrounded by in Ireland.”
Even though she was born in New York, raised in Washington DC, and doesn’t actually have any Irish blood, she qualifies as an Irish citizen and holds dual citizenship with the US.
She was born Olivia Jane Cockburn, to two journalists – Leslie Corkill Redlich and Andrew Cockburn. She took her stage name as a tribute to legendary Irish writer Oscar Wilde.
Wilde’s father, Andrew Cockburn, was born in London but grew up in Co Cork. He moved to America and married fellow journalist Leslie Corkill Redlich and the pair had three children.
Every summer the family would stay in a house in Ardmore, Co Waterford where Wilde’s grandparents had lived. They would enjoy horse riding, fishing and even jump into the sea from the top of the pier before heading to the local disco.
Wilde said of her childhoods in Ireland: “It was amazing. I feel like the luckiest child in the world because I got to grow up there. In summer is when you really grow up. During the year, I would go back to the States, and all year long really couldn’t wait to get back to Ardmore.
“People in Ardmore would say, ‘Oh isn’t living in America cool: you live in a big city, you get to be close to all these things we only see on TV’ – but I found Ireland much more inspiring as a kid, much more fun, and the people had such an amazing effect on me.”
Wilde would return to Ireland later to spend a summer in Dublin where she studied acting in the Gaiety School of Acting.
She said: “I didn’t feel any notion that the purpose of this work was for fame and recognition.
“It was also important to me to maintain a connection with my Irish roots and to spend as much time there as possible. The course I did specialised in Irish playwrights and I’ve always loved Beckett, Friel and O’Casey, and I wanted to spend time learning about these people from people who would understand them. To learn them in America would have been from a very different perspective.”
Wilde now holds an Irish passport, thanks to her father who became an due to his childhood in Co Cork.
Have you thought about applying for dual Irish citizenship? Click here to see if you qualify.