Saturday 17 August 2019

Dermot's parents are coming home

Dermot O'Leary with his mother Maria.
Dermot O'Leary with his mother Maria.
Maria and Sean O'Leary.

By Maria Pepper

Get used to seeing the British television star Dermot O' Leary in Wexford more often as his parents are homeward bound and set to move to Baldwinstown after nearly 50 years living in the UK where they emigrated as a young couple in the 1960's.

The X-Factor presenter posted a tribute on Instagram last week to parents mam Sean and Maria saying he had visited them one last time in the family home in Colchester in Essex before the pair return to their native Wexford

'They've loved it here. Since they moved in 1968, the people have been nothing but kind, welcoming and generous to them at a time when it wasn't easy to be Irish in Britain,' said Dermot who was born in Colchester.

He included a photograph of the couple, posing in their back garden with a hurley and another of himself and his mam against a background of the Essex/Suffolk countryside. But he said home has beckoned for his parents as he thanked them 'for being brave enough to pack up as kids, leave your homes and loved ones and move somewhere no one knew you.'

'Here's to all our parents and what they do for us. Your daughter has a Phd, your son, well he talks out loud for a living but let's gloss over that.'

Forty-four year old Dermot, a Wexford Ambassador and a keen GAA fan, said he enjoyed a final supper of home-grown potatoes at the family home last week along with one last 'wistful gaze at those big Essex/Suffolk skies.

'Here's to act three', added the famous television host and patron of the London Irish Centre who has always been proud of his Wexford roots, visiting here frequently over the years. When he married his Norwegian girlfriend Dee Koppang in 2012, the Wexford duo Emerald Folk played at his celebrity wedding in England.

Speaking at the London Irish Centre's Christmas appeal last December, he said: 'I'm proud of my Irish heritage. My parents were part of the post-war generation fo immigrants who came to London to find a new life, so the London Irish community is one that is very close to my heart.'

Dermot's parents have a large family network in Wexford including Maria's sister Angela Browne of Mulgannon and Sean's brothers Dermot and Fintan along with nephews, nieces and cousins who are all looking forward to welcoming them back to the area. The couple have been regular visitors to their home town during their time in the UK.

O' Leary senior who is originally from Tuskar View and now in his early 70's, is a great hurling fan having played as a young man with the Faythe Harriers and missed out on hurling with the Wexford All-Ireland winners the year after his move to England. He then played with Father Murphys in London.

In 2014, the former CBS Wexford student was honoured for his contribution to Wexford GAA by being presented with a Seana Ghael Award.

The citation described him as a 'star performer' who won three county senior hurling medals with the club and said his blonde head ensured he was always a marked man.

His wife Maria (nee Browne) grew up in Corish Park.

Their famous son is bound to become a more familiar face in Wexford as he visits his returned emigrant parents in their new home.

Wexford People

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