Ireland's part in Lindsay Lohan’s downfall

As Lohan’s Oprah special starts in the US, Louise Roseingrave traces the wildchild’s strong Irish links

Ireland's part in Lindsay Lohan’s downfall

FAME, fights, folly, freckles, and family friction — Lindsay Lohan’s career has descended from a fortune made in childhood to a drugs ‘n’ alcohol fog.

Lohan, or Li-Lo, as the US media calls her, is about to hit the headlines again, starring in a new reality TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) starting this Sunday in the US.

The eight-episode series, Lindsay, chronicles her battle to stay sober while attempting to re-launch her stilted career.

Oprah has spoken of the “chaos” in Lohan’s life in the lead-up to the show, advising her to “cut the bullsh*t” at one point in recording.

The 27-year-old Hollywood starlet completed her latest stint in rehab last July, shortly before filming began.

“There was a lot of chaos going on,” Oprah told Access Hollywood. “So I went to have a conversation, a real conversation about that, to say to her, ‘Do you want to do it? Because if you don’t want to do it, that’s OK. We could just end it. We don’t have to do it’.”

Lohan has been on her best behaviour since she completed the 90-day, court-ordered rehab. She’s moved from LA back to her native New York, quit drinking and changed her social circle.

She’s talked about the forthright reality series as showing “a different side of me” that people “haven’t really gotten to see.

“I wanted to show that I’m just a human being and a normal person and I have everyday experiences that everyone else goes through in life,” she said in an interview in the US last month.

Lohan’s life typifies the child-star Hollywood car-crash and she’s no stranger to the odd fender bender, either.

As is clear from her pale-skinned, red-head natural beauty, Lohan has Irish connections.

Few of the hundreds of news stories dedicated to Lohan’s frenetic fall from grace neglect to mention her father, Michael Lohan, from whom her mother, Dina Sullivan, split amid fractious and drawn-out divorce proceedings in 2004.

Reported to have been born in Galway, Michael is the son of an alcoholic father, Richard Lohan.

A quick look into the Lohan family ancestral documents reveals that a Richard Lohan born in Glenamaddy, Co Galway, in 1916, could be a match.

Birth records also show a Richard Lohan born in Glenamaddy in 1917.

It might the same person entered twice in the records, or it was a popular name in the family.

Richard Lohan married Marilyn Desiderio and had four children, of whom Linsday’s dad is the eldest.

The family grew up on Long Island, New York.

A slightly bemused Richard Lohan answered when I phoned a haulage company in Ballyhard, Glenamaddy, last week.

“Are we famous?” he asked.

No, he didn’t know of any familial links to the infamous New York Lohans, although his grandfather was a Richard, as was Lindsay’s.

Lohan is a common name around the village of Creggs, in east Galway, near the Roscommon border.

Creggs is in the parish of Kilbegnet in the Union of Glenmaddy.

Determining whether this was the birthplace of Lindsay’s alcoholic grandfather is difficult, says Cork-based genealogist Patrick Cotter.

Lindsay has had to cut ties with her father, taking into account his problems with drugs and alcohol, his temper, and a series of brushes with the law.

In 1980, aged 20, Michael became a Wall Street commodities trader and succumbed to the decadence of the decade — champagne and cocaine.

By 1982, he’d begun a lifelong battle against the booze.

Lohan married Dina Sullivan in 1985. Lindsay, the first of the Lohan’s four children was born in 1986.

Three years later, her parents had separated.

The following year, 1990, Michael was investigated for insider trading and convicted of criminal contempt of court.

He served three years in jail. Released in 1993, he reunited with his wife, Dina, with whom he fathered two more children.

But during a separation from Dina, Michael fathered a love child.

His daughter, Ashley Horn, was born in 1995.

Lindsay was nine, already six years into her meteoric on-screen rise to fame, having starred in some 60 television commercials. Two years later, she was cast in the defining role of her childhood career, a remake of the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap, in which she played twins separated at birth who meet at a summer camp and devise a scheme to reunite their divorced parents.

Lindsay’s parents were not divorced at this point, but had already separated twice, so the role would have touched a nerve with the talented young actress.

The year was 1998. Lindsay was 12.

Six years later, her parents split for good, leaving the young star, who had held it together so well throughout her fractured family life, to begin her own unravelling.

Lindsay’s mother, Dina, came from a well-known Irish American family that traced its roots back to Co Cork.

The family were politically conservative and Lindsay’s great grandfather, John L Sullivan, is reported to have founded the Long Island Pro-Life Party.

A search of the 1911 census throws up a John L Sullivan living in a house near Blackrock in Cork.

This John L Sullivan was documented as aged 17, the son of head of the household, Hannah Sullivan (52), living with five siblings, ranging in age from 10 to 29.

A search by the Cork Genealogical Society revealed another John L Sullivan, born in Bantry on September 8, 1891.

A US registration card documented this John L Sullivan as living in New York City, working as an examiner in the Financial District in June, 1917.

Lindsay’s maternal lineage would be more difficult to trace, given the prevalence of the Sullivan name throughout Cork, and especially in West Cork, seat of the O’Sullivan Beara clan.

In interviews, Lindsay has reflected on her father in a remarkably mature fashion.

“My Dad was a lot to handle,” a 20-year-old Lindsay said in an interview in an Irish newspaper. “But I love him and I can’t really judge him based on the things he’s done. He’s done some things that he shouldn’t have done, but he’s still my Dad.”

We are the product of our previous generations, and their actions are reflected in our lives in myriad ways, in profession, personality and health profiles.

But whatever the critics throw at her when the reality TV series airs, Lindsay can take refuge in Sigmund Freud’s succinct summing-up of the Irish: “This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.”

* The TV series, Lindsay, will premiere on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network on Sunday.

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