Meghan Markle could have relatives living in Northern Ireland

Genealogical research has revealed that the Duchess of Sussex can trace her roots back to Belfast and Boy George is related to an executed IRA man from Co Tipperary.

Monday, 23rd July 2018, 8:01 am
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry visited the Crown Bar in Belfast in March this year

Meghan Markle was presented with documents outlining her ancestry during her first Royal visit to the Republic of Ireland while Boy George found out about his family tree during today’s episode of BBC show ‘Who Do You Think You Are’.

Research revealed that Meghan is descended from a young Belfast woman who married an English soldier in Dublin nearly 160 years ago.

Genealogists are now certain the 36-year-old’s great, great, great grandmother was Mary McCue who was born in Belfast but was living in Dublin when she married English soldier Thomas Bird on January 23, 1860.

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Boy George followed his Irish roots back to Co Tipperary

Her husband had only recently returned from India after 10 years, arriving in Dublin in August 1859. He was living in a barracks near Donnybrook in Dublin at the time of the marriage.

They went on to have two children – Mary and Harriett – who moved to Canada with their parents when the regiment was transferred there.

Thomas died aged 36 in July 1866 and his widow Mary married another soldier in the regiment, settling first in Canada before moving to New Hampshire in the United States.

Mary died from pneumonia on August 1885, in her 50s.

US census records filled in by Mary’s daughter Harriett in 1930 gave her mother’s country of birth as Northern Ireland. At various points Mary’s maiden surname has also been listed in official documents as McKeg or McCague.

Meanwhile, singer Boy George’s participation in BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are revealed his relative was an IRA man executed during the War of Independence.

Boy George, whose real name is George Alan O’Dowd, already knew of his family’s Irish roots back in Co Tipperary.

However, he was amazed to discover that Thomas Bryan, a cousin of his grandmother Bridget, was one of the ‘Forgotten 10’ , executed in 1921 for targeting a lorry filled with Black and Tan soldiers.

Thomas Bryan was 24 when he was arrested with nine others. Bryan and his co-conspirators were executed and buried in unmarked graves, but in 2001 most of their bodies were reburied.

The former Culture Club frontman said: “It’s amazing to discover this is part of my family history. I’m proud and I’m sad.”

In the episode – which airs tonight – Boy George visited his ancestor’s graves and toured Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison, where Bryan was hanged.