After audiences have been captivated for almost 12 years by Frank McCourt’s masterpiece, “Angela’s Ashes,” now they can finally see his home described in the book with the opening of the Frank McCourt Museum yesterday in Limerick.
The house is supposed to be an exact replica of the home on Roden Lane that McCourt and his family occupied. However, this one is located on Harsonge Street, just yards away from the original. It also used to be the school, Leamy’s School, that McCourt and his brothers attended during their youth.
The museum was opened by Una Heaton with her husband, John. Una told the Irish Examiner that "This great project has been a passion with me and John."
McCourt wrote "Angela’s Ashes" in 1996, as a memoir of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York and Limerick, Ireland. While audiences were captivated with his in-depth details of poverty, alcoholism, and the struggles of everyday life, the book received mixed reviews in Limerick.
Malachy McCourt, Frank's brother, told the Irish Examiner: "Some people felt Frank’s book brought disgrace to Limerick. But that is the old axiom that the prophet is without honour in his own time; it also applies in Limerick. But the thing to do is not to come back once, don’t speak honourably once. Keep at keep coming back and then you’ll be honoured. They will get used to you."
McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for “Biography or Autobiography,” a title that his brother Malachy said Frank relished because he "always wanted to be known as a teacher, not as a writer or a celebrity.” He adds that his brother would have loved the museum for similar reasons.
"What he would like is that no child would be deprived of words, education, the pursuit of the path of discovery that children have, the beauty of language — and that is what he would he like his legacy to be."
Perhaps only a trained eye, one who had actually grown up in the house, would spy the only mistake in trying to replicate their childhood home: the peeling flaky wallpaper. Malachy McCourt, Frank’s brother, contests that "We had no wallpaper. The walls were covered in something they called blue wash.”