Grandpa the Sniper: The Remarkable Story of a 1916 Volunteer

By Frank Shouldice

Frank Shouldice was a man of many talents, one of them being that he was a crack shot who kept the British in check from his perch in the Jameson distillery during the 1916 Rising. Earlier that same month he had played for Dublin in the GAA final at Croke Park, and just two weeks later he was called to arms.

A stirring story of Easter Week that has gone untold until now, in Grandpa the Sniper: The Remarkable Story of a 1916 Volunteer grandson Frank Shouldice (a well-known dramatist and producer for RTE, and former writer for the Irish Voice) has given his illustrious grandfather his due.

We know that the 14 people murdered on North King Street by a British unit escaped all scrutiny. Shouldice now says the records prove the British establishment knew they had performed wanton murder but felt compelled to cover it up. The relatives never got any satisfaction he writes, again until now.

Drawing on prison letters, personal diaries and previously unreleased files, Grandpa the Sniper retraces the remarkable experiences of a brave Irish freedom fighter. Shouldice was incarcerated three times, lived under close surveillance by MI5 and eventually led a daring four-man escape from a notorious Welsh prison. He was a homegrown example of our own greatest generation.

Extensively researched by his grandson and namesake, Shouldice's book reminds us that all Irish history is personal and that some chapters are richly deserving of lasting fame.

Dufour, $28.

Read more stories on the 1916 centenary here

The Abbey Rebels of 1916, A Lost Revolution

By Fearghal McGarry

In one of his most famous poems the Irish poet W.B. Yeats wondered if one of his plays had radicalized certain prominent members of the Easter Rising, but it turns out he needn't have worried. As Fearghal McGarry's new book makes clear, Ireland's national theater, the Abbey, was already a hive of republican sentiment.

Presenting a rich portrait of the period and drawing on previously unpublished material, The Abbey Rebels of 1916 explores the hopes and dreams of many of the theater’s one time leading lights like Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh, its first leading lady, and Peadar Kearney, the author of our militaristic national anthem.

Feminist Helena Molony, known to Irish scholars now but regrettably lost to our wider history, was the first female political prisoner of her generation, and Abbey stalwart Sean Connolly was the first rebel to die in the Rising.

McGarry even makes time to record the fate of usherette Ellen Bushell, which illustrates that the democratic project that they fought for still lives on in the work of Irish writers this meticulous.

Lavishly illustrated, the book is also a timely reminder that art and politics are often interwoven in Ireland in ways that would astound many other cultures.

Dufour, $45.

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A History of the Easter Rising in 50 Objects

By John Gibney

Inanimate objects can possess a talismanic power to transport you to a different era or place. From a cap worn in battle to the blood stained coat worn by a rebel commander, eras can come to life in an instant, even after a hundred years.

In A History of the Easter Rising in 50 Objects John Gibney tells the story of the Easter Rising and its aftermath through 50 objects that survive intact from that time.

Some are everyday objects but also evocative because they are like documents, uniforms, weapons, and flags. But Gibney makes time for much quirkier objects too, like the cricket bat that died for Ireland, Sean Mac Diarmada’s hurley, and poignantly, the teacups that the two Pearse brothers used for their last cup of tea with their family.

Gibney's evocatively curated objects still contain a undeniable voltage that links their time to ours

Dufour, $27.