AMERICAN actor George Clooney has shared the story of the struggles of his Irish ancestors with refugees who fled war-torn Syria.
Clooney, who has Irish ancestry going back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was in Berlin with his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, to meet with the Syrian group.
The couple have partnered with the International Rescue Committee to mark the fifth anniversary of the ongoing war in the Syria.
“I’m of Irish descent and in America, 100 years ago, we were refugees, my family,” he told the families.
“Irish were treated terribly in America for a period of time and not accepted, and America learned to accept all of these ideas,” the Oceans Eleven star told the families at a Berlin refugee camp.
“It’s what our country is, a country of immigrants.
“We have not recently done a very good job of remembering who we are. And being here and talking with you is important to remind them of who we are.”
Clooney’s Irish roots go back to the village of Windgap in Co. Kilkenny.
Research by Irish genealogy service Eneclann last year revealed his great-great-grandfather Nicholas Clooney was forced out of his farm by “middlemen” – who took over small farms to increase the size of their own.
He emigrated to the US sometime in the 1850s.
Clooney’s wife, a Lebanese-British woman, also reflected on her family’s struggle with refugee status when they first arrived in England as asylum seekers in the 1980s.
“Many years later, everybody’s doing well and my father has returned to Beirut. I hope that, as you say, you will be able to go back to a safe and free Syria,” she said.