Friday 17 July 2009

Frank McCourt is unwell

I was born and reared in Limerick city. We have some good writers here, amongst them: Kate O'Brien, Michael Hartnett, and of course the one who travelled the furthest, Frank McCourt.

Frank McCourt had mixed experiences when he returned to Limerick after the book was published and had become such a runaway hit all over the world: a small but vocal number of people didn't like what he had been writing about and made it difficult for him to live in Limerick, but by far the majority of people in Limerick did what people do everywhere in small cities that suddenly find a hugely successful home grown writer in their midst: welcome and celebrate him. I have heard that whenever he came back to Limerick he could sometimes be found joining in the 'Angela's Ashes walking tour' here. Just wandered by, like another tourist. Signed books and chatted away, unassumingly.

I have heard that Frank McCourt is very unwell. I am sorry to hear that, and wish him well, really. There's something of the sheer eejitry about the way that some people in Limerick responded to that book, a very peculiar Limerick combination of snobbery and shame, and you know, it's not particularly my cup of tea either but it really touched a lot of people who read it, including people from Limerick who remembered that time in its history, who lived alongside him. That book succeeded mostly from word of mouth. And that's a real kind of success.

God bless you, sir.

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