Ed Sheeran’s Irish granny talks about what her famous grandson means to her

Ed Sheeran's granny speaks about her famous grandson

Ed Sheeran is proud of his Irish roots and Ireland has a big influence on his latest album Divide, featuring a song called Galway Girl and several top Irish musicians.

But it doesn’t stop there. The album also has a track dedicated to his Irish granny, 92-year-old Nancy who still lives in Co Wexford.

‘Nancy Mulligan’ is the name of track number 15 on Ed’s album and is named after his gran.

The song tells the love story between Nancy and Ed’s grandfather William Sheeran. He was from Northern Protestant background and Nancy was from a Catholic family from the South.

Nancy’s father forbid them from seeing one another so they ran off to get married and be together. It is a theme that many Irish people will be able to relate to given the country’s political and religious divides over the past century.

The lyrics include the line:

From a farm boy born near Belfast town
I never worried about the king and crown
‘Cause I found my heart upon the southern ground
There’s no difference, I assure ya

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.

Sheeran used to visit her on family holidays when he was growing up and retains a strong affection for Ireland.

Nancy, who has eight children, 23 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, spoke to RTE about Ed, or Edward, as he calls him and says she doesn’t think of him as famous at all. To her, he’s just the same pleasant lad he always was and hasn’t changed at all.

She says: “He was lovely as a kid. He came every year on holidays. I always loved seeing my grandchildren.

“I never think of him famous. He’s exactly the same as he always was. He was working from the age of 14. You’d have to feel sorry for him but he loved it.”

Divide is Sheeran’s third studio album. His first two albums earned him 92 platinum discs. Music critics expect Divide to be equally successful.

One of the stand-out tracks is another Irish inspired number, Galway Girl, which tells the story of how he met a beautiful Irish girl on Grafton Street in Dublin. Listen to it here.

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By Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.