Hollywood actor and producer Tom Cruise today discovered that the truth of his Irish family history is more amazing than fiction. His Irish ancestors have been identified as knights, rebels and heroes in a family history that stretches back an incredible 800 years.
Tom Cruise stopped off in Dublin, Ireland, on the European leg of his tour to promote the Universal Pictures film ‘Oblivion’. Set on a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, the film tells the story of one man’s confrontation of the past, leading him on a journey to redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind, played by Tom Cruise.
I am working with a geneologist too, but I imagine Tom got his results faster. Aptly, in real life, Cruise went on his own journey of discovery to deepen his knowledge of his Irish ancestry, which stretches back over 800 years. Research commissioned by Tourism Ireland for Cruise’s visit, and completed by genealogy researchers Eneclann, has unveiled the amazing history of a family that contained knights in the 12th Century, rebels in the 17th Century and a hero, Patrick Russell-Cruise, who reinstated tenants on his lands in the 19th Century following their eviction against his wishes by an unscrupulous land-agent. Tom Cruise is a fifth generation direct descendant of Patrick Russell-Cruise.
Today, prior to the Red carpet premiere of ‘Oblivion’ in Dublin, Cruise was presented with a Certificate of Irish Heritage by Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, in Dublin. The Certificate is an official recognition by the Irish government of those that are proud of their Irish ancestry and heritage.
Upon receipt of his Certificate of Irish Heritage Cruise said: “It’s a great honour for me and for my whole family – I can’t wait to bring it back to them and enlighten them on their history.” Cruise continued “I’m very proud to be Irish. There’s a pride in America of being Irish. I can’t wait to come back and I want to visit the land of my ancestors and the castle that they had.”
As this is the year of The Gathering Ireland 2013, with a programme of over 300 clan gatherings and local history talks taking place throughout the year, Tourism Ireland has christened 2013 Ireland’s “Family History Year”. Tourism Ireland is encouraging those with Irish connections throughout the world to follow in Cruise’s footsteps and to visit in 2013 to learn more about their heritage and explore the places their ancestors came from.
- The Gathering Ireland 2013 is Ireland’s biggest ever tourism initiative, consisting of a year-long programme of festivals, events and gatherings in every party of the country. It is a yearlong celebration of all things Irish – its people, its unique culture, heritage and rich history. It is about the people of Ireland throwing open their arms and inviting anyone who feels a connection to Ireland to come and visit in 2013. Over 3,500 events of every shape and size are being organised by local people throughout 2013 across the island. There will be clan reunions, food festivals, arts and music festivals, a Redhead Convention, a left-handed Gathering and even a Riverdance Gathering. More details at www.thegatheringireland.com
Certificate of Irish Heritage The Certificate of Irish Heritage provides official recognition of Irish descent. Anyone with an Irish ancestor, born outside Ireland is eligible. www.heritagecertificate.com. I looked at this online and they are beautiful – include your ancestors names, birth dates, and cost 40 pounds.
Tom Cruise’s Irish roots can be traced back 840 years to the arrival of Strongbow in Ireland. Tom was christened Thomas Cruise Mapother IV and the story of his Irish ancestors – the Cruises, the Russells and the Mapothers – is one of knights, rebels and heros.
The knights in Tom’s family were among the first wave of Anglo-Normans to invade Ireland between 1169 and 1176. In 1176 Augustino de Cruce, one of Strongbow’s knights, acted as a legal witness to a grant by Strongbow (Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke) of lands in Dublin. The Cruise family established themselves in Ireland, and held lands in Dublin and Meath including Naul in north county Dublin (which included the townland of ‘Hollywood’) and the civil parish of Cruicetown in County Meath to which the family gave their name. Like other “old English” families, they continued in the Catholic faith even after the Reformation. In 1641 the Cruise family of the Naul took up arms in defence of the King but they lost out to the English Parliamentary army under Oliver Cromwell and forfeited their lands in north county Dublin. In 1686, after the Restoration, they were restored to the lands of Cruicetown in county Meath but their status and their land base was much reduced.
The rebellious streak in Tom’s family was also evident amongst the Russell family who were also “old English” settlers, visible in the records from the 1200s. Their main seat was Seatown, situated in present day Malahide in north county Dublin. In the 15th, 16th and early 17th centuries the Russell family lived in Seatown Castle, fragments of which survive today as part of a modern dwelling. It is highly probable that the Russells engaged in cross-channel trade as the family had amassed significant wealth by the early 1600s and in 1627 they completed a substantial new residence, Drynam House. Like the Cruises, the Russells held fast to their Catholicism and took up arms in the 1641 Rebellion. They consequently lost their lands at Seatown but retained Drynam House and 421 acres surrounding it and it passed by descent in the family until it was sold in the 1920s.
In 1766 the marriage of Bridget Russell “only child and heir at law of Robert Russell of Drynam” to Andrew Cruise united these two families and the children of all subsequent generations adopted the double-surname ‘Russell-Cruise’.
Tom’s family history also contains wonderful stories of heroism. Patrick Russell Cruise was born ca. 1799 in Drynam and in 1825 he married Teresa Johnson in county Meath. The young couple determined that their future was in the United States of America and they settled in Haverstraw, New York. As a younger son, Patrick Russell Cruise had not inherited the family ancestral seat of Drynam House however he had inherited a half share in approximately 500 acres of land in county Westmeath, comprising the townlands of Paristown and Dardistown. The tenants’ leases on these lands were due to expire in 1843. Patrick had promised the sitting tenants that he would ensure they had a preference in renewal “because he felt he was bound in honour and conscience to look to the tenants in possession” but his Dublin-based land-agent John Smith evicted the tenants regardless. When news of the evictions reached Patrick Russell-Cruise in America he set sail for Ireland and personally restored his former tenants to the lands. As a vote of thanks, a public dinner was given in his honour in the town of Clonmellon in November 1844. Patrick Russell Cruise died in Dublin in March 1849 without returning to America and he was buried in Donabate in north Dublin.
How Tom came to be known as Tom Cruise Maphother is a story of family tragedy. Tom’s great-great-grandmother Mary Pauline Russell-Cruise was the youngest known child of Patrick Russell-Cruise, born ca. 1832 in New Jersey. Mary Pauline married Dillon Henry Mapother, the second son of Henry Mapother Esq. of Annadale Lodge, county Dublin, in September 1858 in the RC Cathedral in Detroit. The Mapother family originated in Dorset in England but were in Ireland by 1588 when Richard Mapother was the Sheriff of Roscommon. By the early 1600s the Mapothers established their main residence in Kilteevan in county Roscommon where descendants remained down to the early 20th Century. Dillon Henry Mapother held a degree in civil engineering and had immigrated to New York in 1850 before settling in Louisville Kentucky where he established a successful printing business. However Dillon Henry died between 1873 and 1875 and Mary Pauline remarried to Thomas O’Mara in 1876. There was only one known child of this second marriage: Thomas O’Mara Jr. born 29th December 1876. Sadly Thomas O’Mara Sr. also died sometime before 1900 and Thomas O’Mara Jr. assumed the combined maiden name of his mother and the surname of his half-brother’s, becoming Thomas Cruise Mapother. This man was the great-grandfather of the actor Tom Cruise who was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.