Le Carré speaks movingly of his Rosscarbery roots

November 6th, 2019 7:10 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Richard Moxley, John Le Carré and Skibbereen Heritage Centre genealogist Margaret Murphy during his visit to the heritage centre in August.S29.jpg

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ONE of the world’s best-known authors has spoken of his emotional ties with West Cork after discovering his grandmother was originally from Inchinattin near Rosscarbery.

David Cornwell, who writes under the name John Le Carré, has written 25 espionage novels, including the popular Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener, many of which have been adapted for screen.

Now in his late 80s, the writer spoke last weekend of how he had visited his grandmother’s townland in August, while exploring his Irish roots.

He said he was ‘completely enchanted’ by his visit to Inchinattin, close to Reenascreena, where Olive Wolfe lived until, in 1911, at the age of 16, she emigrated to England, to work as a lady’s maid.

He also spoke highly of the help he had received in tracking down the homestead from Skibbereen Heritage Centre genealogist Margaret Murphy.

‘She rather sternly looked at her computer for a long while and then turned up to me and said “welcome home”,’ he told Marian Finucane in a lengthy interview on RTÉ Radio 1 last Saturday morning. The discovery was very moving for him, he said.

Margaret, who was also interviewed on the programme, said she had no idea who he was until he went in to view the famine exhibition at the centre. His driver, Richard Moxley, leaned over and told her that the David Cornwell she had just met was in fact, the multi-million selling author John Le Carré.

Margaret gave Marian Finucane a lengthy account of the huge amount of work the heritage centre has undertaken in reuniting emigrants with their lost families and distant relations, and gave tips on how to research family histories.

This week the heritage centre said it had received a huge amount of positive feedback and inquiries since the interview was broadcast. It can be listened back to by searching for ‘Marian Finucane’ on the RTÉ website at

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