Highlands & Islands

Irish roots of Scottish clan linked to Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Marilyn Monroe's forefathers were related to a family of Munros from near Forres

A Highlands clan with links to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe has traced its origins back more than a thousand years ago to Ireland.

It was thought Clan Munro took its name from mercenary soldiers from near the River Roe in Derry, Northern Ireland.

But research by the Munro DNA Project has found the clan originated in south west Ireland.

The same project has traced American movie idol Monroe's ancestors to a Munro family that lived in Moray.

The seat of Clan Munro is Foulis Castle near Evanton in Easter Ross in the Highlands.

The DNA project has a database of hundreds of samples provided by Munros living all over the world whose family trees have been studied.

The project includes the descendants of Munros from Easter Ross, also the fifth US president James Monroe and Scots soldiers who were imprisoned and then banished to Britain's America colonies after fighting in the English Civil Wars in the 17th Century.

'Puzzled historians'

Image copyright MGM
Image caption Marilyn Monroe in 1959's Some Like It Hot

Clan chief, Hector Munro of Foulis, said for him the most interesting thing to have emerged from the project so far were the origins of the clan.

He said: "The origins of name Munro has puzzled historians for generations.

"Tradition has it that we were mercenary soldiers from near the River Roe in Derry, Northern Ireland, hence the name Munro - Mac an Rothaich in Gaelic. But it had proved impossible to verify."

The chief said the DNA project had identified an Irishman from 1,750 years ago with four distinct male lines with living descendants.

He said: "All four lines can be traced back to south west Ireland."

Further branches of the Munros were also traced to Ireland, including the forefathers of the Munros of Foulis, the chiefs of the clan.

An investigation of the ancestry of American actress Monroe, star of Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch and who died at the age of 36 in August 1962, has been a feature of the DNA project for more than two years.

The project team found her forefathers were related to a Munro family from Edinkillie, near Forres, in Moray.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, the actress's mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, had ancestral links to Scotland, said Clan Munro.

Related Topics

More on this story