Meryl Streep’s great grandparents from Dunfanaghy


Film Title: It's Complicated





DUNFANAGHY has been confirmed as the ancestral home of Hollywood star Meryl Streep.

It has been confirmed her great grandparents were Manus McFadden (1831) and Grace Strain (1832), natives of the Hook Head district of Dunfanaghy. And in an added bonus, Charles Durning, who featured in The Sting and Tootsie, also has links with the area. In fact, he has family connections with Meryl Streep, all going back to Dunfanaghy. Local are planning to invite the actress to visit her family roots.

Meryl Streep’s links to the area have been well known for many years but the finer points were revealed this week by Genealogist Fiona Fitzsimons of genealogy company Eneclann, who also researched President Barack Obama’s genealogy. The New Jersey born actress’s family roots are featured in the January edition of Irish Lives Remembered- an online genealogy magazine.

It all goes back to February 4, 1864 when Manus McFadden and Grace Strain married in the RC Chapel in Doe in the parish of Clondahorky.

Almost immediately they took the ship for America. On April 19, 1864, the newly married Manus and Grace McFadden arrived at the port of New York aboard the ship Webster SS. By the time of the 1870 US Census the McFadden family had settled in Pennsylvania. Their child, Mary Agnes McFadden, later married Henry Charles Wolf.

Henry Charles and Agnes Wolf’s daughter, ‘Mamie’ Mary Agnes Wolf- is Meryl Streep’s grandmother.


The McFadden and Strain families were closely connected and research showed an earlier marriage between the two families, in the same generation as Manus and Grace. In 1855 Hugh Strain jr. married Catherine McFadden, i.e Grace’s older brother married her sister-in-law.

Speaking to the Donegal News on Wednesday, Ms Fitzimmons, said they had sourced the marriage certificate of Ms Streep’s great grandparents and carried out extensive research.

The article describes the housing conditions that both the Strain and McFadden families would have lived in at the time the actor’s great-great-grandparents left for the America.

Meryl Streep visited Glenties for the pPremiere of the film- Dancing at Lughnasa in 1998. It was set in the fictional village of Ballybeg and was written by Brian Friel. The film was directed by Pat O’Connor and produced by Noel Pearson.

A group of Irish dancers from Glenties travelled to New York for the film premiere on Broadway.

Meryl Streep is widely regarded as the greatest film actress of all time. She has had 17 Academy Award nominations, winning three, and 28 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight.

Meanwhile, Ms Fitzimmons, as part of her research into the Hollywood actress also found out that the father of 70’s Hollywood star Charles Durning who starred in such films as The Sting and Tootsie, also hailed from Dunfanaghy.

Ms Fitzimmons told the Donegal News Charles Durning’s father, James, had a sister Bridget who married into the McFadden’s (the same family connection as Meryl Streep) in 1905.











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