Dara Ó Briain says he is adopted and reveals search for birth mother

Mock The Week’s Dara Ó Briain, 48, reveals for the first time he was adopted as a baby – and says his birth mother had ‘no choice’ about giving him up because of ‘shame’

  • Dara Ó Briain, 48, has revealed he is adopted and has known since an early age 
  • In recent years, the comedian decided to try and track down his birth mother
  • He said the process was ‘positive’ but ‘unnecessarily hard’ due to privacy rules
  • Dara described the emotional experience of finally finding his birth certificate
  • He has since met his birth mother, but not his biological siblings due to Covid

Dara Ó Briain has revealed that he is adopted and told of how his search for his birth mother was ‘unnecessarily hard’.

The Irish comedian, 48, said he was told from an early age that he was adopted and has a ‘fantastic relationship’ with his adoptive parents, coming from an ‘unbelievably content’ family.

He admitted that he never gave his adoption much thought until years later, but eventuallly thought that his birth mother might want to know how things had turned out for him, saying that he felt it was perhaps his ‘responsibility’ to share that with her.

Speaking publicly for the first time about his adoption to the Irish Times for its Winter Nights Festival, he explained: ‘I talked to my birth mother about it today, and I said, “look, did you want this?” and she said, “there was no choice in this”. 

Although he didn’t reveal more about the circumstances of his adoption, he explained: ‘The whole thing was built on shame and expediency and a feeling of, just get this done.’

Dara was born in Ireland in the early ’70s at a time when it was still taboo for women to fall pregnant outside of marriage, with 56,000 women and 57,000 children placed or born at Mother and Baby homes, most run by nuns, from 1922 until the last one shut in 1998. 

Dara Ó Briain has revealed that he is adopted and told of how his search for his birth mother was ‘unnecessarily hard’ due to rules surrounding privacy (pictured in December 2015)

He said that he was aware of being adopted as a child, but it not playing a major role in his life. 

The comedian explained: ‘Being adopted [for me] is a state of knowing you’re adopted, then it not being mentioned for ages, and then at a point in later life going, “Hang on, am I adopted?” 

‘I remember my father coming to London for lunch, and we had one of those conversations where you just clear the decks on everything. 

‘I told him, “I seem to remember knowing this”, and he said, “yeah, but it’s not a secret. I quit telling you because, you know, why would you keep saying it?”‘ 

The Irish comedian, 48, (pictured in April 2019) said that he was told from a very early age that he was adopted and has a ‘fantastic relationship’ with his adoptive parents

After watching the film Philomena, where an Irishwoman Philomena Lee tries to track down her adopted son, Dara felt inspired to start his own search for his birth mother.

The Mock The Week host said the process of searching for his birth mother was largely ‘positive’, but added that it was also ‘unnecessarily hard’ due to privacy rules.

Under Irish Law, the rights of the mother to privacy override the adopted child’s rights to find out who they are, making it tricky for adoptees to get certain information.

He revealed: ‘The search is unnecessarily hard. Start-of-life documentation, which concerns their lives – adopted people do not have the right yet to automatically get that.’ 

Dara explained that much of the information in his adoption file was ‘redacted’ while other information about his biographical father had ‘no bearing on reality at all’.

He continued: ‘They give you a sheet of information, and it has biographical detail of your father, and it’s invented, it has no bearing on reality at all.’

Dara (pictured in April 2019) has met his birth mother, who said his adoption was ‘built on shame’ at the time, but is yet to meet his biological siblings due to Covid travel restrictions  

Dara described the emotional experience of finally tracking down his own birth certificate, admitting that he wanted to find a quiet moment to open the document.

He said: ‘I remember finding it and reading it for the first time. It’s an elemental piece of paper. It’s a huge document to get in your hand.

‘I wasn’t crying or anything like that, but it was still… that this other person is me.’

Dara, who is married to his wife Susan and has two children, has since met his birth mother, who revealed his adoption was ‘built on shame and expediency’ at the time.

Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the TV star is yet to meet his various biological siblings and the rest of his family. 




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