Cruisin' with the Maypothers of Roscommon


IT CAN now be revealed. Top Gun actor Tom Cruise is from Roscommon.

His family are believed to be the same Maypothers as the Maypothers from Kilteevan. His real name is Tom Maypother. His mother was a Cruise and someone some where thought that Cruise would look better in lights.

The Maypothers were "good landlords" in south Roscommon, who became Catholics "eventually", according to Mr Willie Ryan, who broke the news to the Roscommon Herald. He is chairman of the Kilteevan national school centenary committee, which is compiling a special publication to mark the event in August. The committee has written to Tom Cruise asking him to write something for it.

Mr Ryan told The Irish Times that the film star, his father and the family were supposed to have visited the area 10 years ago. He is also believed to have visited again during the filming of Far and Away (in which the landlords were not at all like the Maypothers).

The last Maypottier was a "Miss Mary", Mr Ryan recalls, who died in 1932. The family house is still there. Built in the 1770s, it is mostly in ruins. The family vault in the old Catholic graveyard is intact, though, with two Maypother tombstones in the old St Kevin's Church.

A Mr Joe Maypother, who came to Kilteevan out of nowhere during the EU presidency last year, said he was a fourth cousin of Miss Mary. He went to the graveyard and no one saw him again.

Few in the county will be surprised that Tom Cruise's antecedents may have come from Roscommon. Hollywood connections are nothing new, after all.

Other stars with roots there include Braveheart Mel Gibson, who visited relatives in the county in the 1970s, where he spent a summer making hay while the sun shone. Then there is Gabriel Byrne, whose mother is one of the Gannons from near Elphin. Last summer he and she opened a renovated 18th century windmill there, the oldest of its type in the country.

But it's not just the men. There are all those beautiful women, too, such as Maureen O'Sullivan, who drove Tarzan ape as the first Jane. She came from Boyle. In 1988 she unveiled a plaque to herself there and planted a tree. Her daughter, Mia Farrow, has visited the town many times.

And it is believed that Maureen O'Hara came from the county, she who drove John Wayne to distraction in The Quiet Man. Hardly the first woman born in Ballaghaderreen to have that effect on a poor lad. Sure where would you be going?