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17 celebrities you probably didn't know were Irish

Barack and Michelle Obama drinking Guinness beer pints in an Irish pub.
Former US president Barack Obama is well known for his Hawaiian background, but not for his Irish roots.Jewel Samad/Getty Images
  • Ahead of St. Patrick's Day, here are 17 celebrities you might not know have Irish roots.

  • Most associate Gwen Stefani, Barack Obama, or Robert De Niro with ethnicities other than Irish.

  • Each celebrity claims to hail from the land of Guinness, and some even have DNA proof.

Amy Daire and Victoria Montalti contributed to a previous version of this post.

Nicole Kidman has Australian, Hawaiian, Scottish, and Irish influences in her life.

Nicole Kidman in a black dress with a white bow tie in front of an awards show backdrop.
Nicole Kidman.Jordan Strauss/AP Images

When you think of Kidman, the first thing you think of might be her Australian accent. But the movie star actually has a surprisingly mixed ancestry, including Irish blood.

Speaking to Independent.ie in 2014, Kidman said her father's ancestors traveled from Ireland to Australia as free settlers in 1839.

"I'm very proud of that being part of our heritage, that we were the people that were willing to do that and explore new horizons," she said.

"We definitely have, on my father's side, a strong Irish slant. We come from the line of the Callaghors and, obviously, how I look, you know, I have Irish skin," Kidman said. "Then on my mother's side I have all the Scottish blood," she added.

Kidman famously starred in "Far and Away" — with an Irish accent — alongside her then-husband Tom Cruise in 1991.

She also filmed "The Northman," which was released in 2022, in Northern Ireland.

Rosario Dawson says she's "more Irish than anything."

Rosario Dawson smiling.
Rosario Dawson.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In 2011, Dawson posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, to let everyone know her roots, saying she was "more Irish than anything."

Despite not growing up with her biological father, she is still interested in their shared Irish homeland, and she has been there at least three times.

"My biological father is Irish and, I don't know, I never got to know him, but for me it was always one of the reasons I came [to Ireland] years ago and have come again," she said during a 2016 Irish Independent interview while visiting the country.

Christina Aguilera might be better known for her Ecuadorian roots, but her mother is Irish.

Christina Aguilera in a white textured dress in front of a background.
Christina Aguilera.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

While Aguilera's Latin roots get most of the attention, especially because of her Spanish-language albums, that's not her only ancestral homeland. Her mother is Irish-American and she previously revealed that Aguilera has embraced that side of herself too.

"A lot of people get all in a fuss about Christina wanting to explore her Latin side and not mentioning her Irish side much, but that's only logical," her mother, Shelly Kearns, told Irish America in 2008. "She has no need to go exploring her Irish heritage because she has always known it."

In August 2018, Aguilera shared an Instagram post from Dublin, captioned, "Proud of my [Irish] roots" with an Irish flag.

Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski's family calls Cork home.

Emily Ratajkowski smiling.
Emily Ratajkowski.Jason Merritt/Getty

Ratajkowski first gained international fame for her work in Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" video in 2013.

While many would place her roots in an Eastern European country thanks to her last name, Ratajkowski's family is actually from Ireland.

"I absolutely love Ireland. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth and I have strong ties here," she said while speaking to the Irish Independent in 2013. "Both my grandmothers are from Ireland and I have spent every summer in Bantry since my father, who is an artist, had the romantic idea 20 years ago to buy an old farmhouse on the west coast and renovate it."

"I go back any time I get the opportunity and I have many friends who I still hang out with in the local pubs," she continued. "I have great childhood memories cow-tipping, going off and getting lost in the bog for hours and coming home covered in dirt."

Barack Obama's great-great-granddad hailed from Ireland in 1850.

Barack and Michelle Obama drinking Guinness beer pints in an Irish pub.
Barack Obama.Jewel Samad/Getty Images

In 2007, then-presidential hopeful Obama found out he was part Irish. It turns out, his great-great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, traveled from Ireland to Liverpool, and then to America in 1850.

The president honored his heritage with a trip to Kearney's hometown, Moneygall, in 2011, where he sipped on Guinness and met some of the 300-odd residents of the town.

He's made this a running joke for years now, which is why his introduction at the bar was more than fitting.

"My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas, and I've come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way," he said, NPR reported.

Demi Lovato tweeted about their surprising ethnicity after taking a DNA test.

demi lovato
Demi Lovato.Rich Fury/Getty Images for OBB Media

The singer discovered their Irish heritage in 2017, after they submitted DNA for testing. When the results came back, Lovato posted on X that they are Spanish, Native American, Scandinavian, British, and Irish.

Lovato also found out that they are 1% African, a fact that many of their followers slammed them for sharing, according to the Huffington Post.

Olivia Wilde vacationed in Ireland growing up and took her stage name from Irish poet Oscar Wilde.

Wilde smiling in a wide-arm black gown in front of a Vanity Fair background.
Olivia Wilde's paternal side is Irish and she'd frequently summer in Ireland with them, informing her life and acting career.Evan Agostini/AP Images

American actress and filmmaker Wilde has Irish roots and holds an Irish passport.

Wilde's grandfather Claud Cockburn was an Irish novelist, and her father, Andrew Cockburn, is a journalist who moved from Ireland to Washington, DC, to continue his career and raise his family.

But Wilde's Irish roots remained strong. Every summer during her childhood, she'd vacation in Ardmore, a fishing village in County Waterford, Ireland.

"I feel like the luckiest child in the world because I got to grow up there. In summer is when you really grow up," she told the Irish Independent in 2010. "I credit a lot of my growth as a child and a lot of my happiness with the people I was surrounded by in Ireland," she said.

This inspired Wilde to study at Dublin's Gaiety School of Acting, where she specialized in Irish playwrights. Her stage name, Wilde, was even chosen because of the Irish poet Oscar Wilde.

It may be surprising to learn that Robert De Niro is more Irish than Italian.

De Niro with grey hair and beard in a suit standing in front of an Oscars backdrop.
Robert De Niro is predominantly Irish.Richard Shotwell/AP Images

Although the acting legend is viewed as the face of Italian-American talent, he's actually mostly Irish. In fact, three of his grandparents are of Irish descent, according to the Irish Post. His mother's parents were fully Irish and his father's parents were the Irish Helen O'Reilly and Italian Henry De Niro.

De Niro even ventured through Ireland as a teenager to find his distant relatives. In 1962, he hitchhiked from Dublin to Galway and then traveled to the Aran Islands to search some more.

"People gave me blankets for sleeping outside," the "Godfather" star told Irish Central in 2007. "I had breakfast with them in the morning. They were very friendly, yeah, and I had a great time," he continued.

In 2019, De Niro played real-life Irish crime boss Frank Sheeran in the film "The Irishman," which gave the actor a chance to get in touch with his Irish roots, rather than his more famous Italian ones.

Alicia Keys may also be a little bit Irish.

Alicia Keys posing in a red gown in front of an MTV backdrop.
Alicia Keys is commonly mistaken for different ethnicities, but is proud of her mixed bag of heritage.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Singing sensation Keys thinks she's got some of the good ol' Irish luck in her.

"Actually I'm not Latina, even though I would love to be and many people do think I am," she told Star Tribune back in a 2008 interview.

"A lot of people believe I'm part Jamaican, though I'm not. I'm definitely Black and Italian and a little Irish or Scottish. Being of mixed background influences everything in my life and music," she said.

John Travolta revealed he's half-Irish and half-Italian in 2010.

John Travolta
John Travolta.Getty/Francois Durand

During his press tour for "From Paris With Love," Travolta talked about how well he'd gotten along with his cast mate and Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

"We're so gabby. I'm half-Irish and half-Italian and the Irish side comes out with Jonathan," he told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2010. "We just gab and the movie was interfering with our conversations."

Mariah Carey's mother, Patricia Hickey, was born to Irish parents.

Mariah Carey smiles on the red carpet,
Mariah Carey.Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Carey has opened up about the struggles of being both Black and Irish.

"White people have a difficult time with [being biracial]. It's like, my mother's white — she's so Irish, she loves Ireland, she's like, yay, Ireland! Waving the flag and singing 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.' And that's great. I appreciate that and respect it," Carey said during a 2009 interview with The Guardian.

"There's a whole other side of me that makes me who I am and makes people uncomfortable," she continued. "My father identified as a Black man. No one asked him because he was clearly Black."

"But people always ask me. If we were together, people would look at us in a really strange way. As a little girl I had blonde hair and they'd look at me, look at him, and be disgusted," Carey said.

Despite his questionable accent in "Far and Away," Tom Cruise is actually of Irish descent.

Tom Cruise waiving on a red carpet.
Tom Cruise.Andreas Rentz/Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

During the press tour for "Oblivion" in 2013, Cruise visited Ireland and learned even more about his ancestry. He said he loved Ireland and was thrilled about his newfound family history.

"It was incredible. As a gift, they went and researched my family. It was an amazing story. These two wonderful women did this as a gift for me," he told Jimmy Kimmel in 2013.

"They gave me a [certificate] saying this and traced my family back to the ninth century. I had no idea it went back that far," Cruise continued. "They showed me a picture where the foundation of the castle was — they said my family owned most of Dublin at a certain point. It was unbelievable."

Anna Kendrick's family's original last name was McGinn Connolly.

anna kendrick
Anna Kendrick.Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Anna Kendrick, perhaps best known for the "Pitch Perfect" franchise and "Into the Woods," is of Irish, Scottish, and English descent, and her father's family originally had a very Irish surname.

"I'm actually supposed to be McGinn Connolly. So, Kendrick is a made-up name that they chose when they came to the States," Kendrick said in a 2016 JOE.ie interview with fellow Irish costar Ben Affleck.

She was raised in an Irish and Italian neighborhood and had many Irish influences growing up. Kendrick told RTE in 2016 that her father is very patriotic.

"He's not from Ireland but he's 100% Irish and very into being Irish and loving [Irish playwright] Martin McDonagh," she said.

Despite her very Italian last name, Gwen Stefani also has some Irish blood coursing through her veins.

Gwen Stefani smiling backstage at a People's Choice awards.
Gwen Stefani.Charley Gallay/Getty Images for People's Choice Awards

Stefani's dad is Italian, which is where her surname comes from, but on her mother's side, it's all Irish and Scottish, which explains her traditional upbringing.

"I grew up, like, a Catholic good girl. Total 'Brady Bunch' family," she said to Vogue in 2008 while discussing her family and upbringing. "That always kind of scared me, the pressure of having to be so cool," Stefani continued.

"Glee" star Darren Criss is part Filipino, part Irish.

Criss waving outside.
Darren Criss.Charles Sykes/AP Images

He hasn't spoken out too much about his Irish descent, but Criss has been pretty vocal about being Filipino. He's even visited his family there several times.

In 2010, he told Spot, "I'm not from the Philippines but I have this bizarre kinship. As soon as I got off the plane, I was like, 'Ah, this is me back in the Philippines,'" he said. "I love this place. It's cool. Whatever Filipino blood (I have) in me, it's very happy to be here."

Criss' late father was English, German, and Irish. He got to channel his ancestors in a very small part on "Archer," playing an Irish mobster in a short scene.

On St. Patrick's Day in 2021, he also posted a video discussing the recent influx of attacks against Asian Americans, titled, "Thoughts From An Asian and Irish Guy On A Day Of Tragedy," and said, "The other half of me is Irish, I'm half-Irish."

Miranda Cosgrove is part Irish, among other ethnicities.

miranda cosgrove 2021
Miranda Cosgrove.Amy Sussman/KCA2021/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

Cosgrove, best known for her roles in "iCarly," "Drake and Josh," and "School of Rock," answered a fan's question about her roots in 2009.

"[I'm] Irish, English, and French. People always think im a lot of different nationalities though which I think is pretty cool :)," she wrote on X.

Anne Hathaway feels "quite a bit Irish."

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway.Jamie McCarthy/GettyImages

In 2014, Hathaway spoke about her Irish cousins and how she feels "quite a bit Irish" on "Newstalk," an Irish radio show. She also spoke about how Irish blood is flowing through her.

"My mother's maiden name is McAuley, and my grandmother's name was Sinnott," she said. Both are family names with roots in Ireland.

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