Singer Boy George uncovers tragedy in Ireland as he looks into his family’s past in this week's Who Do You Think You Are?
Singer Boy George has always been one of music’s most colourful stars, but this deeply moving investigation of his family tree gets to the heart of what really makes him tick.
George has always been fascinated by his Irish ancestry and is profoundly affected after visiting Dublin, where he learns the story of his great-aunt Annie, whose republican husband Thomas Bryan was executed by the British Army.
No less tragic is the tale of George’s grandmother Bridget, who, aged six, was taken away from her struggling family.
‘My mum recently started doing her family history and that got me interested in where I come from,’ says George.
‘ I was close to my grandmother Bridget. I’d have loved her to see me get famous, she’d have been so proud. She never talked about her childhood but we knew she was put in a children’s home, and I wanted to find out why.
‘She was in a very strict ‘industrial school’ for 10 years. They did terrible things – if she wet the bed they’d make her wear the sheet.
‘It broke my heart. They said she had been found wandering the streets at the age of six, but she was actually outside her house. She was nabbed like a stray dog. I saw the sort of house she would have lived in, but when you’re with people that love you, even the worst conditions can be bearable,’ he says.
Despite the sad nature of his discoveries, George’s humour is in evidence throughout – as well as his dulcet tones when he joins in with an Irish anthem in a pub.