Beam me up, Paddy: Actor who played Star Trek's Scotty was Irish

Beam me up, Paddy: Actor who played Star Trek's Scotty was Irish

In this undated photo released by Paramount Pictures, James Doohan, far right, who played Scotty in the original 'Star Trek' television series and movies is pictured with DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner and George Takei. Picture: AP/Paramount

A genealogist has boldly gone where no other genealogist has gone before and proved the famous actor who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series was Irish.

"Beam me up Scotty" became a famous catchphrase in the series when chief engineer Scotty (James Doohan) was commanded by Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner) to bring him back aboard the Starship Enterprise.

James Doohan pictured in 1997.
James Doohan pictured in 1997.

Doohan spoke with a very pronounced Scottish accent in his role as Scotty. He claimed to have based it on an Aberdeen accent he'd once heard and it was convincing. However, he'd no Scottish ancestry.

Leading Irish genealogist and historian Jim Herlihy has discovered that while Doohan was born in Canada in 1920, “his ancestry was 100% Irish”. 

Both Doohan's grandfathers came from Co Mayo. One, Thomas Doohan, served with the RIC. Herlihy has written many books about the RIC and that link was to prove vital in his search for the actor's roots.

Herlihy discovered that some of the Doohan family later moved to Belfast. The actor's father, William Patrick Doohan, became a pharmacist and moved to Bangor, Co Down, where he married Sarah Frances Montgomery, whose father was a sea captain.

The marriage took place at the Holycross Catholic Church, Ardoyne, Belfast. The first three of Doohan's siblings were born in Bangor before they emigrated to Canada.

“In his passenger declaration form, William states that the object of his emigration to Canada was "to practice my profession as a pharmacist" and his intended destination was British Columbia, where his sister-in-law, Isobel (Montgomery) Coburn and her husband Herbert Coburn had emigrated to,” Herlihy said.

“They initially settled initially in Vancouver and eventually moved to Sarnia, Ontario, and their fourth child, the actor James Montgomery Doohan, was born there on 3 March 1920,” he added.

Prior to his acting career, Doohan served in the 14th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. He also served as a pilot. He saw combat in Europe during World War II, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy, in which he was wounded, apparently by friendly fire.

After the war, he had extensive experience performing in radio and television, which led to his role as Scotty.

The actor died on 20 July, 2005, in Redmond, a suburb of Washington State in the US. His twin sons, Christopher and Montgomery Doohan are both actors.

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