Sheridan, Niall Joseph (1912–98), writer and broadcaster, was born 26 July 1912 in Drumlerry, Co. Meath, the eldest child of William Sheridan, farmer, and Margaret Josephine Sheridan (née McSorley). He was educated at St Mary's college, Dundalk, and at UCD (1930–34), where he was part of an eclectic group of students – including Brian O'Nolan (qv), Charles Donnelly (qv), Denis Devlin (qv), Donagh MacDonagh (qv), and Cyril Cusack (qv) – that had a strong influence on the college's intellectual and cultural life. As editor of the alternative student magazine Comhthrom Féinne, Sheridan was involved in a putative humorous incident with the college president, Dennis Coffey (qv), after O'Nolan wrote a ribald article in Old Irish for the magazine. The result of the affair – during which both men confessed to their incapacity to read and evaluate the article – was that Sheridan succeeded in acquiring £25 from Coffey to reestablish the UCD chess club, of which he became treasurer. While still a student he published the volume Twenty poems (1934) jointly with Donagh MacDonagh; one of Sheridan's poems, ‘Ad Lesbiam’, a translation from the Latin poet Catullus, was later incorporated by O'Nolan into the text of his novel At swim-two-birds (published in 1939 under the pen name ‘Flann O'Brien’). A close friend of O'Nolan, Sheridan was involved in the gestation and ultimate literary success of the novel; he was the first to announce, in Comhthrom Féinne (June 1935), that O'Nolan had begun his masterpiece, a novel ‘ingeniously constructed’. Asked by O'Nolan to edit the text, he shortened the original draft by about a fifth through the exclusion of many of the Finn MacCool passages. The character of Brinsley in the novel is based on Sheridan in his college days, described as ‘thin, dark-haired, hesitant; an intellectual Meath-man; given to close-knit epigrammatic talk; weak-chested, pale’ (O'Brien, 30). While on honeymoon in 1939, Sheridan visited James Joyce (qv) in Paris and presented him with a copy of At swim-two-birds given to him by O'Nolan. Joyce knew Sheridan's father from UCD, and as Sheridan had spent a year studying in Paris, they were already acquainted. They later corresponded regarding the novel. In 1939 Sheridan and O'Nolan were involved in a literary controversy when they wrote letters under a variety of pseudonyms to the editor of the Irish Times, attacking a play by Frank O'Connor (qv), and accusing him and Sean O'Faolain (qv) of ‘pretensions to high art’ (Clissmann, 19).
On leaving university Sheridan worked for the Irish tourist board. He became the founding manager of Fógra Fáilte (1952–5), and after that body's subsumption into the newly established Bord Fáilte Éireann he continued to manage international publicity (1955–60). He represented Ireland in chess, and for many years was a racing tipster for the Irish Times, using the pseudonym ‘Birdcatcher’; he was a winner of the annual Sporting Life tipster's award. Editor of the Irish Digest (1943–9), during the 1940s he contributed short stories to Esquire and the Atlantic Monthly. He also wrote for The Bell and Dublin Magazine; his short story ‘Flotsam’, about poteen-making and a policeman, appeared in the latter in January–March 1941. A freelance broadcaster, he was a panel member of ‘Information please’, a radio programme of the late 1940s and 1950s. He wrote an introduction to Denis Devlin's ‘The heavenly foreigner’ in Poetry Ireland (July 1950). His play ‘Seven men and a dog’ was performed in the Abbey Theatre in 1958, but was not published. Joining RTÉ as sales manager (1961–4), he later transferred to the programme division. He married (1939) Monica Treanor (Monica Sheridan (qv)), a cookery writer and broadcaster; they had one daughter, and lived at 7 de Vesci Terrace, Monkstown, Co. Dublin. He died 8 February 1998 at Altadore nursing home, Glenageary, Co. Dublin; his remains were removed to Glasnevin crematorium.