Before the Bandits

Shane White

About the book…

Some say you should never go back. But Shane White does go back and takes the reader with him - to a childhood in south Armagh where his father was the RUC sergeant during the 1960s on the edge of the glory of Slieve Gullion. For many this book will remind them of a unique time; for others it will introduce them to a south Armagh they probably think could never possibly have existed. Spend time with the two drunken postmen taking hours leaving each other home; join the RUC as they chase smugglers around the lonely country lanes and negotiate seizure of items over a glass or two of poteen . . . The author recalls childhood friends, many of whom became policemen while others became terrorists. All now dead at the hand of the Troubles. Including his own father. This story was before the 'Bandits' came and there are those who say they came in many different uniforms.

Photo of the author, Shane White

About the author…

Shane White was born in 1955 in Newry but spent his formative years in the wonderful south Armagh village of Forkhill. He took to writing when he realised his future might well require him to actually work for a living. To paraphrase Confucius, 'He who loves his work will never work a day in his life.' Shane hated his job as a Civil Servant in London considering twenty-odd years commuting to the capital as somewhat of an excessive penance for whatever sins committed in his life.

Shane often spent hours scribbling poetry or short stories as he looked out the window of his London office envying the many red buses taking people to, as he saw it, freedom. In 2000 there was a glimmer of hope when he was commissioned by the BBC to write a six-part sitcom for Radio 4. He thought he'd cracked it. After eighteen months development the powers that be decided to pull it. Rejected, dejected and being unable to afford a life time dedicated to alcohol, by this time Shane had left his job in London, fortunately with a nice pay off, he took to writing seriously.

Guildhall Press published Before the Bandits in 2000, a memoir of his childhood and a glowing tribute to growing up in south Armagh where his father was a RUC sergeant; in 2011 Lagan Press published a rewrite. Lagan Press also published Frontier Folk, the sitcom in book form about a village in south Armagh during the early 60s (Troubles-free!) that is struggling with the arrival of a new police sergeant putting at risk their smuggling activities. 

In 2004 Guildhall Press published Dream On, Tom, a tale about a Belfast man returning from England to his city and taking on the DWP who had become the new oppressors of the working-class people. Stranger in Town, a story set in modern-day Belfast about a group of OAPs who having lost their battle against property developers taking their back street become Private Eyes in one last Hurrah to prove to the world that there is still life in them was published by Lagan Press in 2010. 

Shane's next book is an altogether more serious one and is due for publication next year. Although at pains to avoid writing about Northern Ireland's troubled past this book deals with a legacy of it, that of two brothers struggling with their present as a result of their past.

Much of this writer's work is of a comic nature and is drawn from his own experiences in Northern Ireland as well as a liberal dose of imagination but there is always a dark element to it. Much like life, he says. For his next book he is currently researching the story of the Irish navies working on the Settle to Carlisle line in England. 

He has also written a stage play which despite positive feed back from some companies has proved extremely difficult to see the light off day. It is set in south Armagh, an area Shane feels is neglected in both literature and drama.