Pop superstar Ed Sheeran paid tribute to the Romeo and Juliet love story of his grandparents by writing a song in their honour.
Nancy Mulligan was the name of the song from Sheeran’s third studio album Divide.
It was also the name of his Irish grandmother, who married his grandfather William Sheeran.
The song tells the story of how Catholic Nancy Mulligan met and fell in love with Belfast man William Sheeran who was a Protestant.
At the time in Ireland it was still a major taboo for Catholics and Protestants to marry.
Sheeran sings the song from the perspective of his grandfather. The lyrics go:
“And I asked her father, but her daddy said, “No
You can’t marry my daughter”
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.
The Thinking Out Loud singer spoke to music journalist Zane Lowe about the background of the song.
Sheeran said: “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.”
The song was recorded in 2017 and Sheeran enlisted the help of traditional Irish folk band Boega.
He said: “I don’t think enough people use Irish folk in pop music… Hopefully if these songs are successful, more people will do a bit more like it.”
Take a look at the official YouTube video for Nancy Mulligan.
Ed Sheeran has always spoken proudly about his Irish heritage. He even performed one of his biggest hits Thinking Out Loud in the Irish language and performed it on Irish radio.