Ed Sheeran was not able to attend the funeral of his granny Anne Mary Sheeran (née Mulligan) in Co Wexford today, Wednesday, May 3, the gathering heard.
“I am very sad that our son Edward is unable to be here today," John Sheeran, Anne Mary's son and Ed's father, told the congregation at St. Patrick’s Church in Craanford, Co Wexford on Wednesday.
"He’s so upset that he cannot be present. He has to be thousands of miles away in a court in America defending his integrity.
"I know he is comforted by the fact that he was able to spend some precious time alone with his grandma just a month ago.”
Ed Sheeran is in the midst of a copyright battle in New York City where he's accused of copying Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" for his hit "Thinking Out Loud." The British singer-songwriter vehemently denies the claims.
While Sheeran couldn't make Wednesday's funeral, he is due to appear on RTÉ's "The Late Late Show" this Friday, the same day his latest album "-" ("subtract") is released.
Anne Mary Sheeran (née Mulligan) died peacefully on Tuesday, April 25 at Castle Gardens Nursing Home in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, according to a notice on RIP.ie.
In 1951, the Gorey native married Derry native William 'Bill' Davis in London, where they raised their family before retiring to Gorey in 1983.
Their marriage inspired their grandson's song "Nancy Mulligan," which featured on his Grammy Award-winning 2017 album "÷" ("divide.")
The lyrics say in part:
She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border
Upon the release of "Nancy Mulligan" in 2017, Anne Mary told RTÉ: "He [Ed] was lovely as a kid, he came over here [to Ireland] on holidays."
She added: “I never think of him as famous, you know, I have to say.
"Because he is exactly the same as he always was when he visits. And it’s very rare because he’s always working."
After listening to her grandson's song about her, she said, laughing: “It was fine. As long as I’m not the one who was playing it.”
During Wednesday's funeral, John Sheeran spoke of his parents' love story: “Mum met dad, a dental student, at a Guy’s nurses’ home party.
"Friendship turned into love, but the Northern Ireland Presbyterian side of dad's family did their utmost to end the relationship.
“Their wedding was attended by only one family member – mum’s twin sister Peggy. They lived above that dental surgery in South London with a growing family. Eventually five boys and three girls.
"Mum joked to us that she had originally wanted 11 children so she could feel the football or cricket team.”
John said his mother held a “strong social conscience” and a “desire to help others less fortunate than herself."
Talking about his song "Nancy Mulligan," Sheeran told music journalist Zane Lowe in 2017 about his grandparents: "One was Protestant from Belfast and one was Catholic from southern Ireland.
"They got engaged and no one turned up at their wedding.
"He stole all the gold teeth in his dental surgery and melted them down into a wedding ring, and they wore borrowed clothes to get married, and just basically have this kind of 'Romeo and Juliet' romance, which is like the most romantic thing.
"So I thought I'd write a song about it and make it a jig."
Sheeran frequently leans into his Irish roots - he's recorded his song "Thinking Out Loud" in Irish, "Divide" famously featured his take on "Galway Girl," and he's spent plenty of time in Ireland visiting family, as well as busking in Galway.
Discussing the Irish influence on "Divide," Sheeran told The Irish Times in 2017: “I grew up on Planxty and The Chieftains, and I really like Irish music.
"I don’t think enough people use it in pop music.
"For some reason, it’s considered twee and old, but it’s such exciting, youthful music, it should be at the forefront of pop culture. Hopefully, if these songs are successful, more people will do a bit more like it.”