Shan Fadh Bullock
Shan Fadh Bullock was born on 17 May 1865 at Inisherk, Co. Fermanagh just outside the Cavan border near Belturbet. His father Thomas Bullock was a strict man who had eleven children and drove several to emigration because of his stern demeanour. Thomas Bullock worked on the Crom Castle estate which ran along the Cavan/Fermanagh border and employed both Catholic and Protestant workers. Protestant workers had the prime jobs and were employed as craftsmen and supervisors while Catholics worked in the outer area of the estate at unskilled jobs. Folk memories of the battle of Newtownbutler in 1689 remained long in the memory in the area where up to 1500 Jacobite troops were hacked down or drowned in Upper Lough Erne when pursued by the Williamite cavalry. Many of the Williamite army was drawn from the local Protestant population.
Shan Bullock was educated at Crom estate primary school run by the Church of Ireland and Farra school, Co. Westmeath. He tried his hand at farming but found he was not suited, moved to London in 1883 and became a civil service clerk. Bullock took to journalism to supplement his salary and published his first book of stories ‘The Awkward squads’ in 1893. His stories are centred on Irish Catholic and Protestant small farmers and labourers and their struggles and tensions. He married Emma Mitchell in 1899 and they had a son and daughter.
Bullock was well respected in literary circles but his books were never successful enough for him to become a full time writer. He said that the English were not interested in Irish stories and that there was no reading public in Ireland. He disliked Orange sectarianism and was ambivalent to Irish nationalism. His novel ‘The Red Leaguers’ looks at sectarianism conflict and ‘Robert Thorne’ examines the lives of London clerks which was a popular theme at the time. His last and best novel ‘The Loughsiders’ was published in 1924 and is the story of a conniving smallholder based on Shakespeare’s Richard III. Shan Bullock’s wife died in 1922, he spent the final years of his life in Sutton, Surrey and died there on 27 February 1935.
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