Mysterious Family History With Local Links Revealed In Phone Call With Russell Crowe

Alison O’Reilly (fifth from the left) with members of her ‘new’ family in Australia. Photo: Supplied


A TWEET by an Irish journalist that caught the attention of Russell Crowe, led to the movie star calling into a Dublin radio breakfast show, for a live chat with her and her co-host.

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The Oscar winner sent Q102 radio into a spin when he contacted the station for a 20-minute chat, last week.

But the interview also heard presenter Alison O’Reilly describe to Crowe that she had been close to his Nana Glen home last year, catching up with her long-lost family who had settled all around Australia including Coffs Harbour.

Award winning journalist Alison, 45, who was the first Irish journalist to receive a gold medal from the world-renowned Trinity College Philosophical Society for her work exposing the mother and baby home burial scandals in Ireland – spent eight years trying to find her grandfather’s first family.

She was finally reunited with them last September when both she and her mother Mary, 74, travelled to Australia for a “once in a lifetime journey”.

“We were the secret second family, and no one knew about us. I met my relatives in Woolgoolga and all over Australia last year, I wasn’t too far from you. It was the trip of a lifetime,” Alison told Crowe on air.

But none of his family in the UK and Australia ever knew what happened to Eric or his brother Roy. The family in Ireland knew nothing of his first family.

Alison’s painstaking research led to finding out about the history of her grandfather Eric Giggins, who it turned out had been a hero in World War II when both he and his nine fellow MV Kerlogue crewmen rescued 168 Germans from the sea in 1943.

At the time of the infamous rescue, Eric’s family all over Australia had no idea where he was, after he vanished without a trace for 70 years.

“No one over there (Australia) had any idea what happened to my grandfather, he just left without any further contact,” she explained.

“They were completely overjoyed to learn about us, and it brought them peace to know of all the good work he did at sea, it just made it all the more special.”

The journalist and author went on to reveal her love for Australia grew as she began to unfold the mystery of her grandfather’s life and how he had travelled all over the world.

She said her grandfather lived in Coffs Harbour but he has family all over New South Wales, Melbourne, Perth and Wangaratta.

“The brothers travelled the seas, they were in Boston, Australia and came into Coffs Harbour, they lived in Norway, all over Europe and then they came to Ireland and that’s where my grandfather met my nanny Mai Carolan,” she said.

“They lived out their lives in Ireland but their first families never ever knew what happened to them, until I showed up.”



One thought on “Mysterious Family History With Local Links Revealed In Phone Call With Russell Crowe

  1. Thank you for doing this story of my previously unknown Irish family, there are some awesome people within, very proud. My friend Tracy bought the book in Dublin for me and hand delivered it ,Alison signed it when we met here…. fine threads indeed

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