Le Carré found his Cork heritage ‘vastly moving’

April 10th, 2021 11:40 PM

By Southern Star Team

Family friend Richard Moxley, writer John Le Carré and Skibbereen Heritage Centre genealogist Margaret Murphy, during his visit to the heritage centre in August 2019.

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A BBC DOCUMENTARY on multi-million selling writer John Le Carré has put the spotlight on his West Cork heritage once again, and revealed how he had become an Irish citizen before his death.

As first reported in The Southern Star in August 2019, his grandmother Olive Wolfe was originally from Inchinattin near Rosscarbery.

David Cornwell, who wrote under the name John Le Carré, authored 25 espionage novels, including the popular Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener, many of which have been adapted for screen. He died last December, but in 2019 he visited his grandmother’s townland, while exploring his Irish roots. He said he was ‘completely enchanted’ by his visit to where Olive had lived until she emigrated to England in 1911 at the age of 16, to work as a lady’s maid.

The writer was raised by his grandmother and he credits his success to her belief in him as a child. He also spoke highly of the help he had received from Skibbereen Heritage Centre genealogist Margaret Murphy in tracking down his family’s homestead.

In the BBC Radio 4 documentary his son Nicholas said ‘the Irish connection was very real and it mattered to him very much’.

‘When Margaret Murphy, who was helping him to research, said “welcome home” it was vastly moving for him, a huge emotional shift, an awareness of history and self, which had genuinely eluded him his whole life,’ Nicholas said.

He said his father, bitterly disillusioned by Brexit, had become an Irish citizen before his death last December.

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