Segments in this Video

The Irish Factor: Introduction (02:30)


This segment orients viewers to the ancestral search for Bill O'Reilly, Bill Maher, and Soledad O'Brien.

Bill O'Reilly (04:19)

Most Irish immigrants came to America with nothing and struggled for social acceptance and economic stability. O'Reilly's television show, one of the highest rated news shows, was designed for self-expression. He grew up in Levittown, Long Island where he developed a talent for verbal jousting; O'Reilly believes his Irish heritage is the reason he is successful. (Credits)

Bill Maher (03:03)

Maher's television show has been on the air for 13 seasons; his father helped shape his interest in politics and comedy. Maher attended a Catholic church as a child but is now an outspoken atheist. He is proud of his Irish heritage and wants to learn more about his ancestry.

Soledad O'Brien (03:15)

O'Brien is an acclaimed journalist for CNN. Her mother is of Afro-Cuban descent and her father is of Australian Irish descent; her mixed heritage made it difficult to fit in when growing up. O'Brien is largely removed from her Irish roots.

O'Reilly Family Tree (04:39)

O'Reilly was raised on classic Irish values. Gates investigates the source of the values, beginning with his paternal grandfather, John J. O'Reilly III. John served in the 307th Infantry during WWI and was part of the Battle of Argonne.

Maher Family Tree (03:53)

Maher's Irish-American grandfather, William Aloysius Maher Sr. died before he was born. William was president of the Boatmen's Union and led a general strike in 1919; he secured concessions for workers.

O'Brien Family Tree (06:06)

O'Brien's Irish great grandparents Patrick O'Brien and Ellen Fitzgerald settled in Toowoomba, Australia in the 1870s and started a flour milling company. Her father migrated to the U.S. in the 1950s to avoid working in the family business. After the death of her husband, Fitzgerald became a director and shareholder in three businesses, and significantly increased the success of Defiance Flour.

O'Brien's Ancestors to Emigrate Australia (03:16)

Patrick O'Brien and Ellen Fitzgerald's marriage record revealed the counties in Ireland from which they hailed and allowed Gates to trace O'Brien's roots back another generation. County Clare records reveal that Anthony O'Brien was a tenant farmer; his son Patrick obtained free passage to Australia with a chance to own land.

O'Reilly's American and Irish Ancestors (05:24)

O'Reilly's maternal ancestors include a slave owner and two patriots who fought in the American Revolution. His Irish ancestral hometown Clonouse was hit hard by famine in the 1800s. At the age of 16, John O'Reilly II and his brother immigrated to America; he settled in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and opened a saloon.

Maher's Irish Ancestors (04:14)

A census record reveals that Dennis Greany and his wife Mary Dalton, Maher's great-great grandparents, left Ireland before 1850. A New York bank record reveals the Greanys hailed from County Kerry, Ireland. Church archives reveal the 1818 baptismal record of Dennis.

William Hunter Wightman (04:42)

O'Brien's great-great grandfather Wightman arrived in Australia in the 1830s as a convict. Trial records reveal he was convicted of theft by housebreaking; he was previously convicted of petty theft. Wightman's mother Lillias was intimately involved in his criminal career.

DNA Answers (04:47)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. took a y-DNA test and learned his haplogroup is R1b-M222; Maher carries the same haplogroup. Gates, Maher, and O'Reilly can trace their lineage back to Niall of the Nine Hostages. O'Reilly shares an identical DNA segment with Maher. O'Brien shares an identical DNA segment with Stephen Colbert.

Credits: The Irish Factor: Bill O'Reilly, Bill Maher, Soledad O'Brien—Finding Your Roots, Season 3 (00:31)

Credits: The Irish Factor: Bill O'Reilly, Bill Maher, Soledad O'Brien—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

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The Irish Factor: Bill O'Reilly, Bill Maher, Soledad O'Brien—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

Part of the Series : Finding Your Roots, Season 3
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Explore the shared Irish ancestry of Soledad O’Brien, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Maher and how they have been deeply influenced by their Irish roots.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL129880

Copyright date: ©2016

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The Irish Factor

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