The Irishman, the new movie from Martin Scorsese, stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a man who may have been involved in one of the most infamous disappearances in American history. The name Frank Sheeran may not be one that resonates with a lot of people, unless you're well versed in the history of organized crime, but his last name is probably more familiar to modern audiences, and there may be a reason for that.
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.
While the exact connection between the two is far from clear, it seems that Ed Sheeran and Frank Sheeran share a last name because the two are actually related to each other.
Having said that, the connection is not exactly confirmed. The Daily Mail is reporting that genealogical research dating back 150 years says that any blood connection between the two is, at best, "very unlikely." It seems any relationship between the two Sheerans would have to be connected to Frank Sheeran's Irish-born great-grandfather, every following generation was born in the U.S., but such a connection is slim at best.
Of course, it doesn't mean that Ed Sheeran was knowingly lying if he does claim a relationship to Frank Sheeran, it's very possible that Ed Sheeran does believe there is a connection. He wouldn't be the first person to have been told a family story about a connection that didn't turn out to be strictly true. It's probably happened to a lot of us. Genealogy can get quite weird and people can often believe things about it that don't turn out to be true.
And of course, Frank Sheeran is, himself, a man with a questionable history. The events of The Irishman are based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses. In which Sheeran confesses to killing Jimmy Hoffa. He also previously claimed to have knowledge that the Kennedy Assassination was a Mafia hit. These are things that might very well be true, but don't have much collaborating evidence.
Because the connection between the two is pretty slight, this probably isn't the sort of story that will ever find a clear answer. The fact that it's not all that important a question doesn't help either. It's certainly interesting that a popular pop singer might be distantly related to the guy who helped make Jimmy Hoffa disappear, but it probably doesn't change one's opinion of either Sheeran all that much even if it's all completely true.
The Irishman is in limited theatrical release now and will hit Netflix later this month.