Angela's Ashes


Great Depression in America

1929 - 1934

While the McCourts were still in New York, the Great Depression created a stint of unemployment which sunk the family deep into poverty.

Economic War

1932 - 1938

The British government imposed fees on Irish cattle exports in order to recover the value of land. This disrupted the exchange trade of Irish cattle for British coal.

World War II

1939 - 1945

Ireland held an official policy of neutrality

The Emergency

September 2, 1939

There was fear that Germans would make contact with the IRA and make the neutral stance untenable. Income tax was raised, there was increased censorship of the press, and more overall government control over the economy.

German Bombing

January 2, 1941

Belfast and Derry suffer from bombing.

Republic of Ireland


Irish Free State becomes Republic of Ireland and cut the remaining connections to the British.


It All Begins

November, 1929

Angela Sheehan arrives in New York around the time of Thanksgiving and meets Malachy McCourt almost immediately. "That knee-trembler put Angela in an interesting condition and, of course, there was talk" (15). They got married soon after.

Frank's Birth

August 19, 1930

Angela and Malachy have their first child in Brooklyn, New York. Angela swears she won't have another child.

First Brother

September 20, 1931

Malachy Jr. is born.

Two More

August 5, 1932

Twins Oliver and Eugene are born.

Tragedy Strikes


Angela has her 5th child, Margaret, who dies 7 months later. This is when everyone realizes that this family severely needs help. Angela's cousins Philomena and Delia sit down to write to Angela's mother and their aunt, Margaret. "She's married four years, five children and another on the way. That shows you what can happen when you marry someone from the North for they have no control over themselves up there a bunch of Protestands that they are" (45). They ask for money to get the family back to their native land where they can hopefully be better off.

Not So Warm Welcome


Once in Ireland, the troubled McCourts head to Malachy's parents in County Antrim in Northern Ireland and they don't neccessarily welcome the family with open arms. After much questioning, Grandpa informs Malachy to head to Dublin.

Roden Lane


One of the twins pass away shortly after the McCourts arrive in Ireland and the other follows. Angela decides she can't stay in the house they had gotten settled in because it was too sad, so they moved to Roden Lane.

First Communion


While still in America, the children had little knowledge of their religion so it became very important to Angela that they were familiar and into their Catholic faith in Ireland.


July 29, 1940

Angela has her 7th and final child.

Fever Hospital


"Yoo hoo, are you there, typhoid boy?" (193). After Frank's Confirmation, he gets a nosebleed that will not stop along with extreme dizziness. He is diagnosed with typhoid fever and taken to the hospital. Frank's father visits him and for the first time in his life, he kisses Frank on the forehead.

Off to England

October 18, 1941

Malachy leaves the family behind to find work in England after seeing everyone else on the Lane receiving money from their working fathers. He sends money a few times but not enough to provide.

Work and Change


Frank begins delivering coal and actually bringing money into the home to his poor family. "I want to bring home the shilling. I want to be a man" (261). Mr. Hannon, the man Frank delivers for, comes down with gangrene and can't work anymore but his wife tells Frank that he gave Mr. Hannon the feeling of having a son.

The Struggle Continues


Malachy writes that he's coming home for Christmas but arrives with only a half-eaten box of chocolates and no money. Grandma dies of pneumonia.

A Sign of Hope


Frank gets a job at a post office and is ecstatic to be able to raise enough money to get him and his family out of the slums of Ireland.

Playing God


On one of his routes for work, Frank meets Theresa and loses his virginity. Soon after, she passes away. He misses her deeply but also feels dirty and condemned to hell because he did not control himself as he had learned to as a Catholic.

Facing Reality


Frank fully comes to terms with the fact that he must get out of Ireland when he is hired to write angry letters for Mrs. Finucane who collects payments from her customers for various errands and side jobs. He uses his impeccable intelligence to make good money writing these letters and realizes he has a lot of potential to carry himself out of poverty.

New Life


As they pull up, Frank sees the lights of America twinkling and offering new opportunity. "Isn't this a great country altogether?" (363).

Back To America


Frank finally saves up enough money after writing letters for 3 years to return to America and he goes by himself. On the ship, he is filled with guilt, thinking he should have stayed and provided for his family but knows it's too late.