Irishman mobster Frank Sheeran is NOT Ed Sheeran’s uncle
The Mafia’s most bloodthirsty killer played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s new film The Irishman is not Ed Sheeran’s distant uncle – but there is a minuscule chance they could be cousins, MailOnline can reveal today.
Expert genealogists have looked into the intriguing links between the Suffolk hitmaker, 28, and New Jersey-born hitman Frank Sheeran, who murdered 25 people for the mob including union leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.
British actor Stephen Graham, who stars in The Irishman, ‘swore’ last night that Ed claimed the gangster was a relative – but birth, marriage and death records in Britain and America dating back to 1845 show no direct link between the two men.
Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran’s parents and grandparents are all US-born – there is a possibility of a link via the hired gun’s great-grandfather Thomas Sheeran who was born in Ireland – but the chances are slim.
If Ed and Frank do share a family link then it would have to be via marriage from the 18th century or earlier, meaning the very closest they could be is fourth cousins.
The flame-haired British star’s own family appear to come from Maghera in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on his father John’s side – and Galway on his mother Imogen’s side.
The first Irish record under that name O’Sheeran – anglicised to Sheeran by many who emigrated came to the UK – dates back to 1170 in County Donegal, in the far north-west of Ireland in Ulster.
A celeb friend of Ed Sheeran has claimed the star is related to Frank Sheeran (right in 1970), the mobster played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s new film The Irishman – but MailOnline research suggests otherwise
Hi-tech: Robert De Niro, 76, played Sheeran (right) in all the scenes in the widely acclaimed new film and was digitally de-aged for those depicting him as a younger man
Wow: Stephen, 46, who plays fellow gangster Anthony Provenzano in the popular new film, insisted the unlikely connection was genuine (Pictured: Stephen with Scorsese last month)
Ed made the link while the film was being made – but did not claim to be a direct relative
An expert in family trees who looked at the families on both sides of the Atlantic said: ‘Both Frank’s father, Thomas Francis Sheeran jr and his grandfather Thomas Francis Sheeran sr were born in the States. But his great grandfather was born in Ireland. But this will be before 1845 at the latest.
‘Looking at the birthdates of each generation it seems probable that one would need to back at least two more generations on Ed’s side before we get a link. That will make them no closer than 4th cousins’.
There is a tiny chance they are related by a female blood line in Ireland – but it would be an extraordinary coincidence for both men to end up with the same surname in those circumstances.
Frank Sheeran, who was infamous for ‘painting houses’ by spattering victims’ blood on the walls, was called a ‘distant uncle’ to Shape Of You singer Ed, 28, last night.
The claim was made by celebrated British actor Stephen Graham, 46, who plays fellow gangster Anthony Provenzano in the new Scorcese film receiving rave reviews.
He told The Sun: ‘They’re related, you know. Honest to God — I swear on my nana’s life. That’s what Ed said, he says it’s his distant uncle.’
Ed had previously had previously highlighted the pair’s shared name when the film was first announced, though he did not appear to be aware of any family connection.
He wrote on social media: ‘Robert De Niro is playing a top Irish gangster in a new Martin Scorsese film. The gangster he is playing is called Frank Sheeran. True story.’
Shooting: Frank Sheeran (right) alleged he murdered union leader James Hoffa by shooting him in the back of the head twice in a house in Detroit (Pictured: Sheeran and Hoffa) -one of 25 victims
Irishman Frank died of cancer in 2003 before the story of his life was told the book I Heard You Paint Houses by former prosecutor Charles Brandt, who interviewed the real-life Sheeran.
In what is an adaptation of the book, Scorsese’s film details the life of mob hit man Sheeran.
It depicts him as an old man reflecting on the role he played in the disappearance of union labor leader James Hoffa (Al Pacino) and his connections to the Bufalino crime family.
Sheeran alleged that he murdered Hoffa by shooting him in the back of the head twice in a house in Detroit.
Before his revelation the disappearance of Hoffa had been one of America’s greatest unsolved crime mysteries.
Hoffa’s murder was only one of dozens of shocking killings which Sheeran admitted — many on Hoffa’s orders.
De Niro, 76, played the role of the gangster in all the scenes and was digitally de-aged for those which showed him as a younger man.
Among other killings which Sheeran claimed to have committed included the notorious killing of Joe Gallo, a Mafia boss, who died while celebrating his birthday in a restaurant.
Sheeran said he developed his murderous instincts and his callous disregard for taking human life while serving in the U.S. Army in North Africa and Italy during World War II.
He said he spent 411 days in combat — far more than most other U.S. soldiers ever did.
He told Brandt he took part in summary executions of German POWs, and not only frontline soldiers but even German army mule drivers.
He claimed he ‘had no hesitation in doing what I had to do’.
The film about his life has wowed audiences and has become Scorsese’s most popular film by garnering a perfect score on review website Rotten Tomatoes.
The popular website – which aggregates official film reviews to give each movie a percentage score – awarded the film a 100 per cent rating based on reviews from 80 different publications.
It’s extremely difficult to attain a 10 per cent ‘Certified Fresh’ rating on the website, as a single negative review will undercut a perfect score.
The film has even superseded Scorcese’s most famous film, Taxi Driver, which holds a 98 per cent rating.
The Irishman has also come out on top against the director’s other beloved movies, Goodfellas and Raging Bull – each of which hold a 96 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Impressive: The film has wowed audiences and has become Scorsese’s most popular film by garnering a perfect score on review website Rotten Tomatoes
Partying hard: The link between Ed and the gangster comes after the singer got back on stage last month to sing Backstreet Boys and his hit Galway Girl at a Japanese Karaoke bar
The unexpected link between Ed and Sheeran comes after the singer said back in August he was taking a break from performing.
Ed reportedly said at his final show: ‘As you may or not know, I’ve been on the Divide tour for over two years now and this is the last day of the whole thing.’
‘There is something very bittersweet about it. I love that you guys are here and we are ending it in Ipswich. This is my last gig for probably 18 months’.
However, he did get back on stage last month to sing Backstreet Boys and his hit Galway Girl at a Japanese Karoke bar following England’s World Cup final defeat to South Africa.
Starting off with his hit Galway Girl, it wasn’t long until Ed further delved into his childhood with Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way.
After entertaining the crowd, Ed decided to don a Charizard onesie and happily posed for selfies with over-excited fans before enjoying a large glass of wine.