Barry Manilow’s torment and pride over his Irish roots

Barry Manilow’s torment and pride over his Irish roots

Barry Manilow has revealed that he is half Irish and expressed his regret that his family didn’t let him have a relationship with his Irish father.

The star, who was born in New York, was raised by his Jewish mother and grandparents.

He didn’t know his father because his parents got divorced when he was a baby and his mother’s side of the family didn’t want his father to play a part in his life.

His father was an Irish truck driver called Harold Kelliher. However when Manilow was born he was named Barry Pincus, the name of a distant Jewish relative of his father from way back in the 1800s.

He changed his name to Barry Manilow, which is his mother’s family name, after his parents got divorced.

Half Irish and half Jewish

Manilow regrets that he didn’t know his father and wasn’t raised half Irish and half Jewish.

He told Irish Independent: “Right now it sounds stupid but back then they thought that having a Jewish son was the most important thing. To me, it means nothing. As a matter of fact, it would have been interesting if my name was Barry Kelliher and if I was raised half-Irish and half-Jewish, but I wasn’t. The Irish part of me did not exist. It was gone and forgotten.”

He wishes he could have known his father but he only saw him a couple of times in his life.

He said: “I think he was a good guy. He tried to get in touch with me, but they wouldn’t let him in my world.”

The last time Manilow saw his father was when he was an adult and his father came to see his show.

He said: “He came backstage after a show – a quick conversation. He kept trying to get into my life, but it was just too late, too late.”

Barry Manilow has been one of the world’s leading songwriters and performers for the last five decades and has sold millions of albums all across the world.

He has made efforts to get in touch with his Irish heritage and performed When Irish Eyes Are Smiling to a crowd at the o2 Arena in Dublin in 2012.

He told his story to the audience before cracking open a Guinness and raising a bottle to them.

Categorized as News

By Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.