Graham Norton "didn't want to be" gay.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton

The 55-year-old chat show host was born in a Dublin suburb and grew up in Cork, southern Ireland, but he has admitted he "wasn't even sure" he was homosexual during his younger years, and didn't think anyone else in the country was at the time.

He said: "There were gay bars in Dublin and Cork but I didn't know. And also I wasn't even sure that I was [gay]. Those realisations come to you suddenly, because you don't want to be.

"So you're kind of thinking, 'Oh maybe I'm not.'

"How Ireland has changed. Ireland is such an optimistic, hopeful, lovely place right now. And it's young people getting engaged in politics and turning that country around."

Graham says he was made to feel "less" Irish, partly because he was a Protestant in a country full of Catholics, and it has taken him "a long time" to get his head around his "Irishness".

He said: "I grew up in southern Ireland as a Protestant and it was only about three or four per cent of the population.

"People would sign letters to the newspaper and radio from 'a good Irish Catholic'. And it seemed like you needed all three of those words to be any of them.

"Without the Catholic you felt, 'Can I be a real Irish...' and you were made to feel less. Yet you feel, 'I can't be anything else. I can't lay claim to any other nationality. I am Irish.'

"It's taken me a long time to get my head around that, and own my Irishness."

Graham recently penned his second novel, 'A Keeper', a follow up to his debut tome 'Holding In', which came after years of telling himself he was going to write a book - but he "wasn't sure" if he would be able to carry out the mammoth task.

Speaking on 'This Morning', he added: "At some point you just need to shut up or just do it. It's not rocket science, just do it.

"Could I complete this task? I wasn't sure."

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