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My Irish family were refugees too, Hollywood actor George Clooney tells Syrian people

Amal and George Clooney. (Picture: Getty Images)
Amal and George Clooney. (Picture: Getty Images)

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.

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“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.


James Mulhall

James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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5 comments on “My Irish family were refugees too, Hollywood actor George Clooney tells Syrian people”

  1. Boston USA

    How many refugees has Clooney taken in at his Italian and California estates? He certainly can afford to.

  2. Candy

    The reaction to "the country needs to take in refugees" cannot be "well, put them in your house, then, if you love them so much," I can barely stand actual friends staying longer than a day, let alone a whole family of people I don't know. What would be the bathroom or toaster etiquette? The two things are NOT related. Demanding the government support and house people in dire need has absolutely no relation to me putting up beds in me spare room.

  3. Boston USA

    Candy: It always seems that these "refugees" are placed in working class areas that already have economic or unemployment issues. This while wealthy advocates live in private estates that keep all others out. Why does Saudi Arabia and other rich middle east nations refuse to take in these refugees?

  4. janet macdonald-jarrett

    Great speech George but along with all the genuine Syrian refugees are also thousands of fighting age men who are running away with the white flag and invading Europe with the intention of trying to take over and enforce Sharia.You my friend are living in cloud cuckoo land if you compare your ancestors with these people.Do you not watch and read what is going on,or is it a case of "I am super rich and they will not have to live near me so I don't give a damn."I am sick and tired of these so called celebs voicing their unwanted opinions.You haven't got a f**king clue so shut the f**k up!!!!

    • Boston USA

      You are correct . Wealthy suburbs never take in refugees. Especially here in the U.S.. They are placed in working class neighborhoods or suburbs. Yet, wealthy suburban residents dictate to working class areas. Looking at the news, it isn't wise to have open borders in this era.


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