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Line of Duty’s Neil Morrissey discovers his Irish ancestors were ‘hellraisers’

The actor had Irish parents but “wasn’t close" with them growing up as he spent most of his childhood in care.

Neil Morrissey (left) and Adrian Dunbar (right) on DNA Journey© ITV

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Line of Duty star Neil Morrissey learned all about his “hellraiser” Kilkenny relatives in a genealogy TV show this week.

The actor, who was born in Stafford but spent most of his childhood in care, had Irish parents but “wasn’t close" with them growing up and “lost contact” as the years went on.

He features on Tuesday night’s episode of the ITV series DNA Journey to rediscover his Irish roots alongside his Line of Duty co-star Adrian Dunbar, who hails from Co Fermanagh.

The “adventurous and life-changing road trip” saw the pair travel to Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny, where they met with Neil’s cousin Marilyn for a crash course on their family’s history.

“I feel like I want to have roots there,” the 60-year-old said of the Marble County before he arrived.

Neil, Adrian, and Marilyn learned about the Men Behaving Badly star’s heritage over a pint of Guinness, starting with Neil’s ancestors, the Loughlins, who were known for being “hellraisers”.

One of the Loughlins had assaulted someone by “striking him with a stone” and had a feud with the Brennans, another clan in the area.

The two families would hilariously “tell on each other for almost anything”, Neil learned.

In a shocking move, his great aunty Bridie married a Brennan, and the pair ran off to the UK. Tragically, the lovebirds both died young, leaving their child an orphan at age nine.

Neil was saddened by his relative’s age when he lost his parents, which reminded him of his own journey entering care homes as a child.

“You just learn to survive,” he mused.

A DNA test also gave the verdict on Neil’s heritage, declaring him 1pc Scottish and 99pc Irish, much to his delight.

In a previous interview with BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live, Neil opened up about his difficult childhood and revealed that social workers’ concern about his family’s domestic life landed him in care.

“Social workers made the decision that our home life was unsafe. We were a little bit naughty as well - we were burgling a few places for petty amounts,” he explained last year.

“It was more about the disruption of family life that the social workers decided to take me and my brother away from my family.”

His parents were instructed not to visit him for the first six weeks of his time in the foster home, while he didn’t see his brother for a decade.

He said: “They had three other children at home so it was difficult for them to come and see me as well. I was kind of getting used to the isolation and making new friends and a new way through life”.

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