Risen from the Ashes - McCourt read in a new tongue

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

IT MAY not sell in excess of six million copies like its English predecessor, but it is hoped Angela’s Ashes ‘as Gaeilge’ will inspire a new audience.

IT MAY not sell in excess of six million copies like its English predecessor, but it is hoped Angela’s Ashes ‘as Gaeilge’ will inspire a new audience.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, launched ‘Luaithreach Angela’ in the Frank McCourt museum on Hartstonge Street this week - on the 15th anniversary of the publication of the book in New York.

Minister Deenihan said Angela’s Ashes may not be as famous as James Joyce’s Ulysses “but it is known throughout the world, and will be very popular with a lot of Irish teachers and pupils”, following the latest translation.

“It is very much a reflection of the language of Limerick and the social conditions at the time,” he said.

He was presented with a hard copy of the book, signed by translator Padraic Breathnach.

Dominic Taylor, of the Limerick Writers’ Centre, said the project has been ongoing since the death of McCourt two years ago.

“This is in honour of one of Limerick’s most successful writers. We don’t hope to compete with the original sales, but we hope it will be an inspiring and uplifting read,” said Mr Taylor.

Only a few hundred copies of the Irish translation will be printed initially, depending on demand, with more copies flown to the United States for its New York launch next month.

Translator Breathnach, a retired lecturer from Mary Immaculate College, said he went through the book “with a fine tooth comb” and believes it deserves every award it received, in spite of some criticism levelled at the memoir of a poverty stricke childhood when it was first published in 1996.

“It’s not depressing, actually, it’s a very playful book, so full of drama. There isn’t a page where it’s boring. I hope I didn’t take away from the spirit of it. It was very important to get the tone, the rhythm and the spirit right. I adhered as strictly as possible to the original,” he said. Even when he thought McCourt made a mistake by placing a comma in the wrong place, he said it stuck to the original - Pulitzer Prize winning - text. Deputising as Mayor, Cllr Michael Hourigan, said the author left “a wonderful legacy to Limerick in Angela’s Ashes.”