New research claims to reveal that 'Dracula' was inspired by Bram Stoker's Irish ancestry.

The historian, Fiona Fitzsimons, has been studying the Dublin-born author's family tree since November, ahead of the centenary of his death on Friday.

She has traced and documented Stoker's direct descent from Manus "the Magnificent" O'Donnell - an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century.

The O'Donnell family is one of Ireland's oldest and most powerful families, dating back to the 11th century.

Ms Fitzsimons says her research shows that Stoker himself knew of these family connections and was influenced by them when he wrote his best known novel.

"We believe that our research will rescue Stoker from his critics, so that 'Dracula' can be read and understood as its author intended," she said.

"Stoker did not use overtly Irish symbols in 'Dracula' but his main theme is taken from Irish history, recast in the artist's imagination.

"The tale of a decayed aristocracy in possession of a great warrior past, the survivors displaced by the passage of history now living in the shadows is the story of 'Dracula' as envisioned by this descendant of Manus O'Donnell."

The vampire character 'Dracula' has traditionally been linked with Transylvania's Vlad the Impaler - a 15th-century Prince of Wallachia renowned for his cruelty and practice of impaling his enemies.

You can learn more about the research into Bram Stoker's family tree here.