It seems everything in life comes much easier to celebrities, thanks to endless resources and the money to make things happen. But apparently, if you are of Irish heritage, being a celebrity can’t even help give you answers about your family line. Just ask Conan O’Brien, a comedic celebrity with some pretty obvious Irish roots. Conan previously explored his roots in a trip to the Irish American Heritage Center, where he learned how to step dance and explored Irish culture.
As seen below in the video, Conan was hosting special guest Lisa Kudrow, of FRIENDS fame, on his talk show, when the subject of tracing Irish roots came up. Kudrow is the executive producer of the tv show “Who Do You Think You Are,” which takes celebrities on a personal journey back in time to learn about their ancestors and family lineage. Famous folks such as Rachel McAdams, Cindy Crawford, Jim Parsons, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have all taken part in the show and learned revealing and sometimes scandalous information about their past. As great as we are sure an episode with Conan reliving his Irish family’s past transgressions would be, there seems to be a hiccup in production.
Conan brought up the fact that he was approached by the show and willingly participated in giving over DNA and family information in order to get his heritage traced, but noted he is still waiting for follow-up, almost a year later. Kudrow confirmed it, saying “You’re tough!” What makes him a tough one to crack? He is apparently much too Irish.
Ancestry is typically traced by identifying names and dates of recent ancestors, and working backwards from there. But as Kudrow pointed out to Conan, Irish ancestry is especially hard, because people from Ireland “all have the same name”, to the point where even if they can pinpoint the right surnames, most of the first names are the same as well. Conan and Kudrow of course then made some jokes about the amount of drink consumed by the Irish as impeding the record books as well.
Researching genealogy has become a huge hobby for many interested in their heritage, and has become a major industry as well, with companies popping up all over online offering access to ancestry records, not to mention TV shows like “Who Do You Think You Are” that are encouraging people to explore the unknown. These types of investigations rely heavily on public records, which could also demonstrate why it is so difficult to find out specifics on Irish ancestors. In 1922 an explosion destroyed the Irish Public Records Office, which held much of Ireland’s written history in terms of parish registers, census forms, and other documents that are critical to the work of family historians.
We at Irish Celtic Jewels love to celebrate the people and heritage of Ireland. Share with us in the comments if you have made any fascinating discoveries about your own family history, and what types of resources were helpful to you in your search.