American journalist Matt Katz during his trip to Cork in search of clues about his biological father.

DNA trail leads to Cork from America

“It's the craziest thing that's ever happened to me, to find out that my father isn't my father and that I'm a different ethnicity.”

A New York-born journalist has described his astonishing journey from believing he was 100% Jewish to finding out he was actually 50% Irish, a journey that brought him to Cork in 2022.

Matt Katz, whose podcast ‘Inconceivable Truth’ tells the story of the search for his biological father, went his whole life believing he was born to two parents of Easter European Jewish heritage. In 2016, he and his wife, who is also Jewish, decided “on a whim” to take an DNA test.

“At that point I had no question whatsoever, it wasn't even a thought in my mind that I wasn't 100% Jewish,” Matt told the Cork Independent.

Matt’s wife was confirmed as being 100% Eastern European Jewish, but Matt’s results came back as being 50% Jewish and 50% either Irish or British, later confirmed to be Irish.

After talking about his story on a radio show he hosted, Matt was encouraged by a listener to join a Facebook group for Jewish genealogy. Through the group he discovered in 2018 that he had a half-sister with a birthday just two and a half weeks after his own.

“She tells me that she had just learned that she was conceived via sperm donor – that means I was conceived via sperm donor,” said Matt.

Matt’s mother, who also took a DNA test showing 100% Jewish heritage, had believed she had been inseminated with her own husband's sperm as part of a fertility treatment. According to Matt’s research, it was a common practice for fertility clinics at the time to “supplement” the sperm of a patient with that of a donor. In Matt’s case, that donor was a man with roots in county Cork.

Matt found two more half siblings, both born via the same sperm donor. He then learned of his great great grandfather, Michael Lynch who he traced to the townland of Carrigagulla near Macroom.

He said: “We specifically went to Cork city and stayed in the city for a few nights and had a great time, and then one day I rented a car and I said to the kids, 'Listen, I don't know what's going to happen today, it might be very boring, but we're going to go try to find some clues about who my father might be'.”

Matt also discovered that one of his great great grandfather’s daughters’ married name was Lehane, a name that remains in the area to this day.

He continued: “So, I go and I knock on the door of this Lehane family, and this is where it gets surreal. This gentleman invites me in. He's very nice, we quickly realise he's not my relative; however, he tells me there was another Lehane family that lived in Carrigagulla.

“My wife and kids are in the car outside, he pulls out on the kitchen table the names of the great great grandparents that I can confirm.

“The book has the full list of all the kids with their names and where they immigrated. Some went to England and the others went to America. One of those children was my great grandparent.”

The same day, Matt’s wife spotted a bakery in Macroom called Lynch's Bakery. The owner turned out to be Matt's fourth cousin once removed.

Having found a living relative in Cork, Matt continued his search for his biological father which resulted in his eight-piece podcast ‘Inconceivable Truth’ which is available on all major podcast streaming services.

Asked what words of advice he would share with someone setting out on a similar journey, Matt said: “It's an up and down experience. It likely won't all be good, but it also likely won't all be bad. I believe that in most cases the truth can set you free from an emotional standpoint, and the truth is worth knowing.”

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