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Grandpa the Sniper (Paperback)

The Remarkable Story of a 1916 Volunteer

WWI > Biography & Memoirs

Imprint: Liffey Press
Pages: 396
ISBN: 9781908308801
Published: 15th October 2015



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"A fascinating trawl through a very personal history." - Irish Gazette

"A stirring story of Easter Week that has gone untold until now." - Irish Voice


It's April, 1916. Dublin GAA footballer Frank Shouldice has just won the Croke Cup. It's a big achievement for the up and coming star, but he has other things on his mind. Two weeks after the final whistle he's on a rooftop in North King Street with a rifle in his hand. His cheekbone is grazed by a bullet smashing into the wall behind him and, according to a confidential military file, Frank Shouldice is killed in action. Except he's very much alive. His brother Jack commands the barricaded street below. In some of the heaviest fighting of the Easter Rising the South Staffordshire Regiment can't budge a pocket of Irish Volunteers defiantly holding out. Desperate to get the upper hand, the South Staffs storm the barricades after dawn. Through the sights of a borrowed pair of binoculars Frank takes aim from the Jameson malthouse high above. The street is soon littered with casualties and the British troops are forced to withdraw.


Pearse's surrender begins the next chapter of this extraordinary story. In the eventful years that follow, Frank, formerly a civil servant at the Land Commission, will spend jail terms in Stafford, Brixton and Wormwood Scrubs.When he gets home to Ballaghadereen, County Roscommon he is placed under close surveillance by MI5, the military and police in Ireland. He is court-martialled in Frongoch internment camp when as Hut Leader he protects other prisoners from conscription. Incarcerated at Usk Prison in Wales he leads a daring four-man escape to freedom. But he didn't like to talk about it. And when Ireland's War of Independence descends into Civil War he lays down his gun forever.


Drawing on prison letters, personal diaries, secret military and police files, Grandpa the Sniper retraces a remarkable journey by a reluctant hero. Extensively researched and written by his grandson and namesake, it's a fascinating trawl through a very personal history. Part biography, part memoir, it offers readers a rare insight into one of the quiet men who gave their all for Irish freedom.

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