'My pals don't believe me... but I AM George Clooney's cousin'
AN Irish cousin of Hollywood legend George Clooney has revealed how friends wouldn't believe her when she told of the connection.
Fiona Clooney (26) first became aware of her famous relative when a cousin completed a family tree linking them to the Oscar-nominated actor's Kentucky clan.
"It took a while to sink in. None of my friends would believe me, it got to the stage where I just stopped telling people," she said.
Since then she has holidayed in the US home of George's father Nicholas and taken him on tours of his ancestral home here in Ireland. But she has yet to meet her famous cousin.
"I'm still working on that," she laughed.
The two families have stayed in constant contact, with George's father Nicholas paying a visit to Fiona's Abbeyleix, Co Laois, home five years ago.
"He came over about five years ago and saw the cottage next door to me and we went to Kilkenny to the old family home and out for dinner. I have to say, he's such a lovely man. He's a real genuine person and he's so grounded and down to earth," she recalled.
Two years ago, Fiona and boyfriend David Greene enjoyed a holiday with the Clooney family in the US. "Myself and my boyfriend where on holidays in New York a couple of years back and because we'd often be in contact with Nick he invited us down to where he was in Kentucky. We stayed there three days and had a fantastic time.
"He treated us like the VIPs out there because we were the Irish relatives," she revealed.
Fiona stars in a new documentary George Clooney's Irish Roots -- The Real Descendants by Kilkenny documentary maker Gabriel Murray. It tells the story of the star's links to Abbeyleix in Co Laois.
But far from being stunned at the famous link, Fiona took the whole thing in her stride.
"Strangely it fell into place. We always knew that my great-grandparents and grandparents had been in touch with their American relatives, they would send letters and packages but they lost touch over the years.
"I think most people didn't believe me, they thought I was messing about it so in the end I just went with the joke," she revealed.
Fiona is a member of Abbeyleix Heritage Town Tourism. She now hopes that if her famous cousin makes the planned trip to Ireland that it will help promote the area.
"It's such a beautiful town but we just don't get many tourists. Maybe if George comes to the town it will spark an interest," she added.
The feature documentary will be completed in April.