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28th Jan 2024

Brendan Fraser tears up after discovering incredible Irish ancestry story

Simon Kelly

Brendan Fraser Ireland

“It hurts my heart.”

Oscar winner Brendan Fraser has had an emotional discovery of his Irish roots recently.

The Whale star sat down with Henry Louis Gates on the PBS show Finding Your Roots, where he discovered the incredible story behind how his family relocated to the US from Ireland.

At the start of the show, Fraser said he only knew that his mother’s roots lay in Ireland, but beyond that “her family tree was a blank slate.”

Brendan Fraser tears up after discovering incredible Irish ancestry story

Historians on the show dug into the Canadian-American actor‘s past, where they eventually found the first of Fraser’s ancestors to be born in the US, a man called Patrick F. Devine, in the 1920 census for Pennsylvania.

Patrick, who was Fraser’s great grandfather, turned out to be a confectionary dealer or what was known as a ‘candyman’.

“It’s making me feel tingly all over,” Fraser said as his ancestry unraveled before him.

Digging back another generation, it was discovered that Patrick’s father (Fraser’s great-great grandfather), also called Patrick, was born in Ireland around 1844 and had arrived in the USA around 1853 as a child.

This meant that his arrival overlapped with the Great Famine, which is understood to be the reason behind the family leaving their native land.

“I speculated, with what I know of historical events,” Fraser said, hinting that he had an idea of why his family moved to the US. “They fled the potato famine.”

Henry Louis Gates asked, “What do you think it was like for him to leave his home behind, knowing that likely he’d never see it again?”

A teary-eyed Fraser replied, “Heartbreaking.”

He added, “It makes me think of how fleetingly childhood goes. It hurts my heart.”

Patrick Sr showed up again in the 1870 census for Pennsylvania, working in a coal mine – confirming a difficult life for the uprooted Irishman.

“It makes me feel that I think I need to have some gratitude,” the 55-year-old said. “For all the good things I have going on in my life right now”

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