Donegal has many a connection to Hollywood and stardom, and another has recently been unveiled in the form of actor Mark Wahlberg. While his Irish Catholic Boston upbringing is no secret, Wahlberg has Donegal roots stemming from Inishowen, with a family tree littered with names like Donnelly, Bradley and Doherty.
His Great Grandmother was Sarah Doherty from the townland of Cleenagh, near buncrana. She emigrated to Boston in 1895 where she married a local man of Irish descent Dennis Bradley (another very common name in Donegal). Their Daughter Mary later married a son of Swedish immigrants, hence the distinctly non Irish surname Wahlberg!
Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg was born 1971 into a typical Irish American background. He had a rocky youth, marred with violence, drug use and stints in prison. After realising the life he was leading would prove his undoing, he drastically changed his ways. He joined his older brother Donnie as an early member of the boyband New Kids on the Block. After leaving the band to pursue a more hip hop driven style he had a number one hit as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
After a brief stint as a Calvin Klein underwear model he successfully made his way into acting. Wahlbergs big screen debut came in the film ‘Renaissance Man’ opposite Danny DeVito. Since then he has starred in a series of hit films including ‘The Italian Job’, ‘The Fighter’, ‘The Departed’, ‘Ted’ and most recently, ‘Pain and Gain’.
Our thanks to Eimer Ní Shé for doing research on the Wahlbergs.