Hollywood star promises to find his relatives in Ireland

Jerry O'Connell. Photo copyright Gage Skidmore CC3

Hollywood star Jerry O’Connell has revealed that he has Irish heritage from both the Republic and the North.

The actor has already visited his relatives from his mother’s side of the family in Belfast and says he hopes to track down his family members from his father’s side in Co Cork.

O’Connell has become a major name in Hollywood. He has starred opposite the likes of Tom Cruise, Christopher Walken and Katie Holmes.

He has also voiced the Clark Kent/Superman character in the Justice League franchise.

The New York star spoke to the Irish Sun about his heritage. He said: “I’m half Irish.

“My father is actually British, his father was from Co Cork, and my maternal grandmother is actually from Belfast.

“So I’m half southern Irish, half Northern Irish, how crazy is that?

“My paternal grandfather was from Co Cork, O Connell, I’m sure there is a lot of O’Connell’s down there.

“If ever I see one on Instagram or social media I follow them.”

O’Connell went on to talk about his maternal grandmother, and the support she gave him as a youngster trying to forge a career in acting.

He said: “She was a really funny Irish lady, God rest her soul.

“It’s really funny, when I was a kid, I wasn’t acting and I was getting in a lot of trouble for being crazy and always getting in trouble for talking all the time.

“She really encouraged me to remain true to who I was, and she used to joke a lot about how wild I was, and it wasn’t until I got on a set — I was always getting in trouble in school — but when I got on a set on Stand By Me, I was like, ‘This is what my grandmother was talking about, these are my people’.

“It’s funny, that grandmother came with me when I had to shoot Stand By Me.

“My parents were working and you needed a guardian and my grandparents came with me.”

O’Connell has been appearing in films and TV shows for most of his life and it is that support from his family that his helped him in his career.

Although he was raised in New York, O’Connell has always been aware and proud of his family history.

He said: “My grandfather emigrated to England, so my father was born in England and my grandmother emigrated as a child from Belfast.

“I have not been to southern Ireland, I have only been to Northern Ireland to see my maternal family. I want to apologise to my paternal family, I will get there, I just had a couple of days and my brother and I decided to go to Belfast to see the relatives.”