Grandpa the Sniper review: family tale of a brave man of 1916

Frank Shouldice draws movingly on private and official sources of an Irish Volunteer

Grandpa the Sniper
Author: Frank Shouldice
ISBN-13: 9781908308801
Publisher: The Liffey Press
Guideline Price: €17.95

During Easter Week 1916, Frank Shouldice and his brother Jack fought with the Irish Volunteers at the Four Courts. Frank trained his rifle on British soldiers from the malthouse tower of Jameson's Distillery. This is the life story of this brave and unassuming man, told by his grandson.

More striking than the liberally quoted official documents from that turbulent period are the private letters and diary entries. The author has meticulously researched the misery and tedium of his grandpa's many incarcerations after the Rising, particularly at Frongoch in Wales, but Frank's letters home to Ballaghaderreen are remarkably cheerful and his laconic diary entries refer sadly but quietly to the deaths of comrades and family members.

The reader experiences the momentous events of 100 years ago as they affect the daily lives of the Shouldice family. The author is moved to find a deeply personal letter from Frank’s sister, Ena, confiscated by British intelligence, lying forever undelivered in the military archives at Kew.