Irene Sheeran was Frank Sheeran’s second wife. The couple had a daughter together. At the time of their marriage, Sheeran had three children with his first wife. With Irene, Sheeran had another daughter, Connie. Irene Sheeran passed away in December 1995. Her maiden name was Gray.
Irene Sheeran is played by the actress Stephanie Kurtzuba in the Martin Scorsese movie, “The Irishman.” It’s the second time that Kurtzuba has collaborated with Scorses having previously appeared in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Irene Sheeran Has Been Described as ‘Looking the Other Way’ to Her Husband’s Crimes
In the book on which “The Irishman” is based, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” it’s written that Sheeran married Irene just as he began working for Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters in the 1960s. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney in his review of “The Irishman” described Irene’s character as “looking the other way” as her husband committed a string of heinous crimes.
In the New Yorker’s review, Anthony Lane wrote that in “The Irishman” Martin Scorsese barely mentions Sheeran’s first wife, Mary, before introducing Irene. Lane writes, “It’s almost as if she’s being introduced in order to be erased.”
2. Sheeran Said That He Scaled Back Some of His Criminal Activities After His Marriage to Irene
Charles Brandt’s book, which is written in Sheeran’s voice, details that the mob hitman met Irene while he was working out of Philadelphia. Sheeran says, “She was younger than me and we fell in love.” From there, Sheeran says that he went to his wife of the time, Mary, to ask for a divorce. His wife agreed. Sheeran says, “Irene and I got married right away, and the next year we had our daughter, Connie.” Sheeran added, “Things were different with Irene.” Sheeran says that he gave up certain aspects of his criminal operations, notably gambling, which resulted in him getting arrested regularly.
3. Irene Died 8 Years Before Her Husband
Irene Sheeran died in December 1995, a full eight years before her husband. Her obituary mentions that Irene was the “dear mother of Connie Griffin and husband, John; dearest grandmother of Brittany and Jake.” Irene is not mentioned in her husband’s obituary. The obituary names the bereaved as his children and Connie, his daughter with Irene, but there is no mention of Sheeran’s wife.
4. Sheeran Referred to His Wife by the Name ‘Rene’
The Associated Press reported in February 1980 that Irene and Connie Sheeran were both present as Frank Sheeran was found not guilty on union racketeering charges. Sheeran would call his wife “Rene,” with a y-sound.
5. Irene Sheeran’s Granddaughter Gave Actress Stephanie Kurtzuba Tips on How the Character Should Be Played
Prior to the release of “The Irishman,” actress Stephanie Kurtzuba told CBS New York that she first got a call from Martin Scorsese about the movie in 2012. Kurtzuba said that the call came during the filming of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” She told the station, “He said just come and we’ll read through. I didn’t realize everyone was going to be at the table read. I said be cool Steph. That’s where it all started for me and then it was a huge process from there to get it made and on the screen.”
Kurtzuba went on to say that she received pointers on the character from Irene’s granddaughter. Kurtzuba said, “She was incredibly generous with information about Irene and I tried to pull a lot of those authentic details into my performance. You rarely get an opportunity to have that kind of information.”