RIP: Frank McCourt

Seems as if another day, another day famous person passes away.  This time it’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Frank McCourt, best known for his 1996 memoir Angela’s Ashes. He was also a longtime teacher at New York’s Stuyvesant High School.  He died Sunday at age 78.

A rather different version of his upbringing, however, emerged from local sources. After the publication ofAngela’s Ashes, the local newspaper, the Limerick Leader, published a photograph showing the youthful McCourt and his younger brother Malachy, smiling and smartly dressed in their scout uniforms – and not just of any scout uniforms, but those of the St Joseph’s Boy Scouts, the elite of Limerick. Another picture showed their mother Angela, whose plump figure would appear to belie McCourt’s claims of his family having suffered constant hunger.Yet for all the factual inaccuracies that were unearthed, part of McCourt’s account was undoubtedly accurate. He did lose three siblings. His father was a notorious alcoholic and Frank himself did suffer a number of eye infections, ultimately resulting in the loss of his eyelashes.

McCourt left school at 13, and at 19, as Angela’s Ashes records, he left the poverty of Limerick and his family behind, after saving enough money for a ticket to New York from a job with the Post Office. His brothers, Malachy and Michael, followed him soon after, as, eventually, did Angela.

In interviews he always came across as a warm-spirited raconteur.  Here he is with schmaltzy memoirist Mitch Albom.

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