Actress Tilda Swinton’s ex-partner has shockingly revealed that he is the child of an incestuous relationship between his mother and his grandfather.
Artist and writer John Byrne – who split from Tilda in 2005 and shares two children with her – revealed to The Times that he is the biological son of his mother, Alice, and his grandfather, Patrick McShane.
Discovering the news via his cousin, Aileen in 2002, he explains:
'[Helen] told Aileen what my mother had told her, when she was much younger. Aileen asked Tilda, "Do you think I should tell Iain [a family name for Mr Byrne]?" Tilda said, "You’ve got to tell him." She called me in and handed me the phone.'
He said that he and Aileen later met in person and he was told the truth then, and once he found out 'everything fell into place'.
My mother was constantly voyaging out to Cardonald [where his grandparents lived]. I once thought she wanted him to go down on his bended knee and beg forgiveness. No. She was in love with her own father, utterly and totally.
'I think he gave me that wonderful mixture of genes with his own daughter, the eldest of the family. That’s what they do in Ireland. I presume it’s what they do in unlettered places and lettered places. It’s traditional, and nobody speaks about it.
Mr Byrne is known for designing the front cover of The Beatles album, The Beatles Ballads, and wrote the 1987 series Tutti Frutti, starring Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson.
His mother died in hospital in the 1980’s after suffering from a mental illness which John believes was a result of the relationship with her father.
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