\"Celebrated

Celebrated Irish author Frank McCourt

A real Irish send-off for Frank McCourt

\"Celebrated

Celebrated Irish author Frank McCourt

• VIDEO / FRANK'S FIRST MOVIE ROLE /CLICK HERE

• PHOTO GALLERY / FRANK IN PICTURES / CLICK HERE

• NIALL O'DOWD / THE FRANK I KNEW / CLICK HERE

 • VIDEO / NEW YORK STATE WRITER'S INSTITUTE  / CLICK HERE

 • ARCHIVE / 1997 INTERVIEW / CLICK HERE

 Family and friends of Frank McCourt gathered at his bedside while he was dying to give him a traditional Irish send-off, IrishCentral has learned.

"It was a wonderful Irish farewell, full of love, humor and sadness; just like Frank," said said one attendee.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house as Irish songs were sung, poetry recited and McCourt's own works and quirks were recalled.

Another visitor in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's final days told IrishCentral that one song was particularly poignant, "Limerick, You're a Lady."

The song, of course, refers to McCourt's hometown, and he was known to sing it when family and friends gathered.

He even sang it the famous night in Limerick in 1997 after he was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Limerick, where he was installed as a writer-in-residence. Its sentimental lyrics were dear to the world-famous author's heart:

Limerick, you're a lady
Your Shannon waters tears of joy that flow
The beauty that surrounds you
I'll take it with me love where e'er I go.

While waking in the arms of distant waters
A new day finds me far away from home
And Limerick you're my lady
The one true love that I have ever known.

As children you and I spent endless days of fun
In winter's snow or summer's golden sun
We fished in silver streams, the fabric of my dreams
Was fashioned by your loveliness and so I have to say.

Limerick you're a lady
Your Shannon waters tears of joy that flow
The beauty that surrounds you
I'll take it with me love where e'er I go.

The scene took place at the Manhattan Hospice not far from his New York city residence last Sunday as McCourt breathed his last.

Also there during his last hours was his loving wife Ellen, who had not left his side for several weeks once the severity of his illness became apparent.

IrishCentral has learned that McCourt's body has already been cremated and it is expected that his ashes will be scattered on his beloved Shannon river in Limerick Ireland.

A memorial service for him will be held in September.

Meanwhile, the Limerick City Council has opened a book of condolences for McCourt, the man who put Limerick on the map.

The 78-year-old’s memoir of growing up in Limerick won him a Pulitzer prize and worldwide acclaim - but not everyone in Limerick was impressed by his portrayal of the conditions in the Treaty City in the 1930s.

However, nowadays there are walking tours in the city that visit the spots made famous by “Angela’s Ashes.”

The Angela’s Ashes tour has been in operation since 1998 and is still popular, with tour guide Michael O’Donnell bringing tourists to all the old haunts mentioned in the book. 

McCourt was last in his hometown in August 2008, when he famously took the same tour.

The book of condolences was opened by the Limerick City Council at City Hall on Merchant’s Quay.

“Limerick is very proud of, and will never forget, Frank McCourt," said Kevin Kiely, Mayor of Limerick, who is expected to represent the city at the author’s memorial service.

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