US TV presenter puts Limerick village on world stage

US television and podcast host Conan O’Brien with Jim Fitzgerald, in Galbally, Co Limerick. Photo: Galbally Community/Facebook.

A US talk show host is set to put a small village in south east Limerick on the international stage after a flying visit this week to trace his ancestry.

Conan O’Brien visited the village of Galbally with the ambition of tracing his ancestors who hailed from the Limerick village.

Conan tracked his roots back to Galbally, the native home of his great grandfather Thomas O’Brien, who married Margaret Dempsey from nearby Emly, County Tipperary.

Visiting Galbally on Wednesday (January 10), the 60-year-old veteran US television presenter from Brookline, Massachusetts, met with his “good friend” and local historian Jim Fitzgerald, who also runs the Galbally Community Facebook Page.

In a video posted on Facebook, Conan is seen with the local man who tells the former Tonight Show host a bit about the history of the village.

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In the video, posted on the Galbally Community Facebook page, the talk show host explained that his great grandfather emigrated from the village in the 1870s.

“Hello, Conan O’Brien here from America. I work in television there and I do comedy, but I hail from Galbally, I come from here, and I’ve run into my good friend here, Jim Fitzgerald. Jim Fitzgerald is telling me all about the O’Briens and Galbally,” Conan told the Galbally Community page’s followers.

“My great grandfather left Galbally I think in the 1870s, and we’re gonna go see where his house used to be.”

“But this is where it all started. And now I’m back. This is very nice.”

“The village is here since, I suppose, the 1400s,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr Fitzgerald said Mr O’Brien was a “good comedian” and he was thrilled to have encountered the US TV star in the village.

“What a day, I met one of Americas most famous TV presenters in Galbally village. Galbally had a very famous visitor today. It was none other than Conan O’Brien, he is in the area searching for his roots,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We had a good, chat which will be broadcast in the USA later this year, a very interesting day.”

Conan visited the site of his great-grandfather’s former home, now a green area outside Galbally village. Looking over the same mountain view that Thomas O’Brien would have taken in before him, he said that he had “found my piece of the Auld Sod” and that it was “cool to be back”.

It is understood that the TV personality’s visit came as part of a new TV show based around Conan searching for his Irish roots that will be broadcast to US audiences later this year.

Additional reporting by David Raleigh.