My Grandad the sniper
GRANDPA THE SNIPER
In April 1916 Ballaghaderreen-born Frank Shouldice lined out for the Dublin football team in the final of the GAA’s Croke Cup. Two weeks later he’s up the Jameson Malthouse at North King Street with a rifle in one hand and a borrowed pair of binoculars in the other. ‘Grandpa The Sniper’ is a remarkable account of what happened next, forensically researched and written by his grandson Frank Shouldice Jnr. in a work described by Prof Diarmaid Ferriter as “rich, evocative and vivid”.
Frank will be speaking in Portlaoise Library next Thursday (Apr 28) at 6.30pm. The event is free.
“My grandfather spoke very little about those events, nor about his involvement through the War of Independence,” said the author. “It is not particularly unusual that he was private about his experiences in 1916 but it made researching his story more challenging and, ultimately, more remarkable.”
Key to the book was a stockpile of personal letters the veteran marksman kept during the time he was incarcerated in Stafford Prison, Frongoch internment camp and later in Boyle barracks, Mountjoy, Wandsworth, Pentonville, Wormwood Scrubs and Brixton prisons. As part of the infamous ‘German Plot’ he was also detained at Usk Jail in Wales, from which he dramatically escaped in January 1919 along with three comrades (Joe McGrath, George Geraghty and Barney Mellowes).
“Those letters gave a real insight into his life at the time. They were heavily censored so references were often cryptic or loaded. But the letters to and from his family and friends really told of the strain everyone was under as well as their sheer determination to see things through.”
In addition to his grandfather’s personal records, research took the author through national archives and military records in Ireland, Wales and England, unearthing a surveillance file compiled on the “most disloyal” Shouldice family by MI5 British intelligence with the aid of the British military in Ireland and ‘G’ Division detectives of the Dublin Metropolitan Police at Dublin Castle.
“Frank was not one of the leaders of the Rising. Nor was he one of the big names through the War of Independence – in fact his brother Jack was a Lieutenant at North King Street and was lucky to have his death sentence commuted to imprisonment at Dartmoor and Lewes along with Eamon de Valera and Harry Boland.
“But what I found fascinating about my grandfather was how a modest, ordinary man from the West could find himself living through such extraordinary times, playing his part in Irish history without ever seeking attention for having done so.”
Frank Shouldice Jnr. is a producer/director with RTE’s Investigations Unit. He has made current affairs documentaries for TV and radio and has been published extensively in the national press in Ireland as well as the U.S. and Australia.
He is also a playwright and has had plays performed in Dublin, Belfast and Glasgow. He is presently working on a co-production of his new play, ‘Beneath The Cedar Tree’, with Sartr, the War Theatre in Sarajevo.
‘Grandpa the Sniper: The Remarkable Story of a 1916 Volunteer’ is published by The Liffey Press. 387 pages; RRP €20.
For further information please contact Liffey Press at 01-8511458 or email email@example.com. Thank you.