Angela's Ashes

Macy Neese, Author: Frank McCourt


Francis McCourt is Born

August 19, 1930

Francis McCourt is born to Angela Sheehan and Malachy McCourt in New York CIty, New York. His brother Malachy Jr. is born a year later and his twin brothers are born a year after Malachy. Angela's marriage to Malachy was frowned upon by her family because he comes from Northern Ireland whereas she comes from Limerick.

Margaret is born/The McCourts move to Limerick, Ireland


Angela McCourt gives birth to a daughter, Margaret, who dies suddenly in her crib 8 weeks after birth. Her death brings great sorrow to the family. Angela is so upset, she stays in bed all day, leaving her other children to fend for themselves. Malachy, who adored the little girl, was driven even further into alcoholism. Angela's sister see how desperate the situation is and send a letter to their mother, asking for money to send them to Limerick, Ireland. The McCourt's make the move to Limerick. When Angela's mother sees her daughter, she's immediately disgusted with her husband because of his Northern Ireland descent.

The McCourts face severe poverty in Ireland


The McCourts struggle with poverty, especially with Malachy Sr. alcoholism hindering him from maintaining a job. Oliver, one of the twins gets sick and dies. Six months later, Eugene, the other twin also faces sickness and dies. Because of the sorrow of two more of her children's deaths, Angela insists they move to another house. Malachy Sr. continues to drink uncontrollably and Angela suffers from depression of the stresses of everyday life.

Frank enrolls in Leamy’s National School

Approx. 1936

Religion was important to both Malachy and Angela, so they encourage Frank to prepare for his First Communion. Frank's First Communion boosts his Catholic faith, along with the things he learns in school. Although Frank despised school, he often passed the time by reading a book. Frank applies to be altar boy, but is rejected because of his rugged looks.
"You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” (McCourt 208)

Frank has two new brothers


Angela gives birth to Michael McCourt in 1936 and Alphie McCourt in 1940.

Frank gets typhoid fever

Approx. 1941

During his Confirmation, Frank gets a nosebleed and is unable to make his Collection. While in the hospital, Frank is near death and is given the rites of Extreme Unction. Frank's father comes to visit, kissing his son on the head before leaving. This leaves Frank in a state of happiness because his father had never shown this type of affection since after Margaret passed. Frank meets Patricia, who has diphtheria. She introduces Frank to poetry, sparking his interest in literature even further. He is especially drawn to Shakespeare.
“I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.” (McCourt 196)

Malachy Sr. goes to England for work


Desperate for some kind of income, Angela convinces Malachy Sr. to go to England in search of a job. With the war going on, there are plenty of job opportunities. Malachy sends his wages once, but never again after that. This worries Angela; she has four children at home who need food and clothing. Living in theses poor conditions sends Frank back to the hospital for severe conjunctivitis.

Frank gets a job as a telegram boy


Angela slowly moves in with Uncle Pat, leaving Laman Griffin's house. While delivering telegrams, Frank steals bread and milk for his family. While also working for the post office, Frank begins writing harsh letters for Mrs. Finucane. He realizes his skill for writing and quits the post office and takes a job in a local magazine company.

The McCourts are behind on their rent and are evicted


Malachy Sr. is still in England drinking away his wages. Because she's four weeks behind rent, Angela is forced to move her family in with her cousin, Laman Griffin. Frank gets into a violent confrontation with Laman and leaves to live with his Uncle Pat. The events of Laman Griffin's house pushes Frank to the decision to save his money and go to America.

Frank gets to America


After saving as much money as he could, Frank is finally able to afford to sail to America. He leaves Limerick with no set plan, other than to send money to his mother when he can. Frank's father, Malachy Sr., is still in England, unheard from.
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” (McCourt 11)

Lesson I Learned


This book really made me stop and think about my life and what I value. Reading about Frank McCourt's life saddened my heart. No one should have to live such a hard life, especially a child. Frank was forced into being the man of the house at a young age. While his dad went off to another country, drinking his wages, Frank was out trying to make ends meet. Not everything he did was legal, he stole bread, milk, apples, etc. just to feed his family. He was also surrounded by so much death. His own siblings died right in front of him, his first love died of consumption, his friend from the hospital died of diphtheria, the list goes on and on. The perseverance of Frank McCourt really inspires me. His childhood makes me think of all the privileges we have in America, his longing to be in our country deepened my patriotism, his overall determination to help his family made me think of my own. Frank McCourt is a true hero and an inspiration to people everywhere.