Late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien has achieved much success in the showbiz industry across his lengthy career. He has been a part of The Simpsons crew, has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show, but who are the proud parents behind this star?
Conan O’Brien’s parents are Thomas Francis O’Brien, a physician, epidemiologist, and Harvard professor and Ruth O’Brien, a retired attorney.
Discover more below about Conan’s parents and the interesting ancestry he has and how Conan produced the first generation of offspring who aren’t Irish Catholic.
Meet the Parents
Born on April 18, 1963, to Thomas and Ruth O’Brien, Conan is the third child out of five; three brothers and two sisters.
As aforementioned, Thomas was a physician, epidemiologist, and professor at Harvard. Conan revealed that his father predominantly worked as a microbiologist specializing in infectious diseases.
His mother, Ruth worked as an attorney and was a partner of the firm in Boston named Ropes & Gray.
The O’Brien Ancestors
Conan’s parents, Thomas and Ruth, passed down pretty surprising DNA that would shock even the most avid Conan fans. Conan originates from a family of strict Irish Catholic descent.
While Conan was born in Massachusetts, his ancestors had emigrated from Dublin to America around 150 years prior to his birth in 1963. Technically, this would make Conan part Irish, wouldn’t it?
Here’s the plot twist… according to a DNA test taken in 2019, Conan isn’t only part Irish, but he is 100% Irish. But how can this be?
In this episode of The Late Night Show, Conan’s doctor offered insight into this. Suffice it to say, Conan was not expecting his doctor’s response.
Conan’s doctor expressed that he doesn’t know of anyone who is 100% Irish (even residents of Ireland aren’t 100% Irish) and initially he was shocked by the DNA results. His doctor said the only plausible reason is that Conan was inbred.
His unexpected DNA results are pretty uncommon.
According to Ancestry, you physically cannot receive more than half of your ancestor’s DNA. Usually, the general rule of thumb is that you’ll get half of your mom’s DNA and half of your dad’s, then 12.5% of each of your grandparents’ DNA, but never 100% of one ancestor’s DNA.
Even if Conan has an ancestor who is 100% Irish, typically it would be the case that the part of their DNA he’d inherit would be a maximum of half. More likely, he would have inherited 2-4% of that ancestor’s DNA.
So while these DNA results are quite unusual, one thing to remember is that DNA inheritance is completely randomized. As a result, some offspring might inherit more of one ethnicity than the others do which could explain why Conan received the result of being 100% Irish.
An alternative explanation is one given by Conan himself. He often jokes about his ancestors who married into each other once they had reached Massachusetts which could’ve resulted in O’Brien being inbred.
Conan’s brother seems to agree, joking on Twitter: “They’re nice. Deeply disturbed. Dangerously inbred. Palpably unbalanced. But nice.”
Breaking the Cycle
About a year and a half after his marriage to Liza Powell, the couple welcomed their first child Neve O’Brien in October of 2003, who was shortly followed by the couple’s second child, Beckett O’Brien in November of 2005.
Conan’s children broke the cycle of their bloodline’s 100% Irish Catholic ancestry as the pair produced a mix between Scots-Irish descent because their mother, Liza, is a mix between Scottish and Irish from her ancestors.