Bono’s ‘secret brother’ breaks his silence: ‘It made no sense to keep this hidden any longer’

In new memoir, Bono has named second brother as Government banking adviser Scott Rankin, a man he knew for years as his cousin

The man who for years thought he was Bono’s cousin only to later learn they were brothers said they “felt a strong connection well before we knew we were brothers”.

Speaking publicly for the first time about their relationship, Scott Rankin told The Irish Times: “I am blessed to have been welcomed with open arms into the Hewson family,” referring to Bono’s family.

The existence of the singer’s brother, for years a family secret, has emerged in the run-up to the publication next month of the singer’s new memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, in which he reveals Mr Rankin’s identity for the first time.

Bono disclosed in an interview during the summer that he had a brother from an extramarital affair that his father had.


In the book, Bono reveals that his half-brother is Scott Rankin, who he previously understood was his cousin, and that Scott’s parents are Bob Hewson, Bono’s father, and Barbara Rankin, Bob’s sister-in-law and Bono’s aunt.

Mr Rankin welcomed the disclosure of his relationship with Bono. “Not all such stories turn out the way mine has and I was fortunate to discover that I had two fathers take an active part in my upbringing,” he said, referring to Bob Hewson and Jack Rankin, brother of Bono’s mother Iris.

“Our extended family have known for some time and we agreed that it made no sense to keep this hidden any longer. Bono’s book also happens to be an appropriate and sensitive way for us to acknowledge the connection,” he said. “We have only love for our parents and we’re grateful to have our families’ support in sharing this story.

“From what I read over the summer it’s certainly nice to know that it seems to have resonated with some people,” he said, referring to warm public comments made about Bono’s interview on BBC’s Desert Island Discs in which he discussed his father’s affair and brother for the first time.

Mr Rankin is well known in business circles as a former analyst at stockbroker Davy before he moved into the public service in the wake of the 2008 banking crash, working for the Government to manage the State’s shareholding in the banks following their bailouts with taxpayer funds.

Speaking publicly for the first time about Mr Rankin, Bono told The Irish Times in an interview published on Saturday: “The truth is, with Scott we felt like brothers long before we knew we were. I love Scott and his mother Barbara.”

In his memoir, Bono reveals he instinctively knew he and Scott were brothers when his brother Norman called him in 2000 to tell him about “some family news”.

“I must have known that something was up and I must have held my father responsible for kind of making my mother unhappy in the way kids just pick things up,” he told The Irish Times.

He writes in his book that he learned of his father’s affair and the existence of another brother in 2000 after his father was diagnosed with cancer, a year before he died. The affair took place when Iris was still alive but she never knew about it. She died in 1974 when Bono was 14.

After his mother’s death, Bono writes that Scott’s family “kind of took me in”.

Bono writes that the family “all knew that my father and my auntie Barbara had been close” but Iris and Jack were sister and brother so it was “not that unusual for their spouses to be”.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Bono speaks about his often difficult relationship with his father and his complicated family life growing up in Dublin following the death of his mother. “There are no straight families – what’s that John Cleese book: Families and How to Survive Them?” he says.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times