THE widow of one of Limerick’s most famous sons, author Frank McCourt, has urged the city to take ownership of the museum in his name and save it from an uncertain future.
Leamy House on Hartstonge Street, the Pulitzer Prize winning author’s former school and home of the museum which draws tourists from around the world, was put up for sale recently for €325,000.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader from her home in Connecticut in the States, Ellen said she hoped that maybe donations received in a public appeal fund could be matched by either State or private sources to help keep the Frank McCourt museum open.
After five years of private enterprise by artist Una Heaton, whose husband John owns the building, Ellen said “it deserves a chance to succeed.
“I would love to see Frank’s legacy preserved in Limerick, and I think that if it is to stay open the public has to claim Frank as one of the city’s sons. The city has to step up and say ‘This is worth it’,” said Ms Frey MccCourt.
She said she believes a public account fund should be opened to receive donations from the public, and then perhaps some “civic minded and deep pocketed individuals or philanthropists could match that donation and might purchase the building in conjunction with John and Una.
“The museum did a lot of good work, with a lot of arts programme based there, and all that would be lost to the city. It is a unique building that has resonance with the McCourt family, and many of the older generation of Limerick,” she said.
No public appeal fund has been set up to date, but she said she is prepared to back a campaign in the US, and has already approached a number of people regarding the museum’s future.
Despite somewhat mixed views on Angela’s Ashes, she said “people still love Frank and love the book, and come to Limerick because of him”.
“I would hope that any appeal would be met with encouragement,” she said.
Meanwhile, contracts have just been signed to translate Angela’s Ashes into Indonesian.
Various other projects relating to the famous author are ongoing which Ellen said was proof that Frank’s legacy lives on.
She also is in consultation with Brown Bag films regarding an animated version of his children’s book, Angela and the Baby Jesus, which could be shownn on TV screens in the States in 2016.
“There are lots of things going on in Frank’s name,” she concluded.