Farragher told McCourt that if he mentioned his name at the Thanksgiving dinner table he would get a lot of dirty looks because Farragher’s family thought McCourt was full of it.
“His response was that the Irish who come over here end up with a nostalgic, warped view of what Ireland is. For my parents’ generation the Catholic Church was not just a religion, it’s also their cultural identity and their social life,” Farragher says.
“When the Irish came to America and they wanted a taste of home I think the church could provide them with it. I do not have the same viewpoint as my parents do with my faith. I see it as something very different.”
A longtime columnist for the Voice, when Farragher found himself filled with the desire to tell some of the stories from my own life he set out on a path that has resulted in the collection This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks.
“It was just sort an experiment to begin with and I ran a new column in the Voice called ‘Narrowback’s Corner.’ But right away I started getting emails and calls and posts on Facebook from people saying, ‘This is my life too.’ It resonated for them and it just encouraged me to keep on.”
One of the things that Farragher can do like no other is reflect on the Irish American experience and all the baggage that comes with it (good and bad). Alongside the humor -- and there’s lots of it -- Farragher also makes room for the struggles and sorrows of life too.
“The more honest you are about yourself the better the writing is. The Irish have often been concerned with or rebelling against the concern about what the neighbors will think. I could give a s*** about that,” he says.
“My parents have always been worried about that but I’m over it. My kids are going to read this book someday. They’re going to know exactly who their father is from it -- and my grandchildren if I’m lucky enough to see them.”
Farragher attended his first ever book signing over the weekend, and the response showed him he’s onto a winner.
“To have a room full of strangers laughing hard at your work was terrific. I’m still on a high over it. It’s just one guy’s experience and one view of Irish America that is funny and thought provoking, but when you read it and put it together you’ll get a sense of who I am.”
Meanwhile, when Farragher’s mother heard about the new book she feared she’d be the target of an Angela’s Ashes style takedown. But what she saw and heard at the book signing has caused her to reconsider.
Farragher has an instinct why she’s had a change of heart. “After they read the book everyone wants to meet my mother. I told her over the weekend that she’s going to be the real star of the show, not me.”
Farragher will read from This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks at Fiddleheads Restaurant in Jamesburg, New Jersey on March 8. He will read at the New York Public Library in Staten Island on April 16 and the New York Public Library in Woodlawn on April 26. To attend or to order the book visit www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com