Musical keeps Frank’s iconic story and memory alive in Limerick

Rebecca Laffan

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Rebecca Laffan

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rebecca.laffan@limerickleader.ie

Musical keeps Frank’s iconic story and memory alive in Limerick

Una Heaton, Conor McCourt with his father Malachy and children Cole and Gus | PICTURE: Michael Cowhey

ANGELA’S Ashes is still wowing audiences at the Lime Tree theatre, as Frank McCourt’s iconic biographic is retold in the form of a musical. 

Fittingly, the premier of Angela’s Ashes, The Musical, last week also served as an ode to the late Frank, who passed away exactly 10 years ago to the date, on July 19, 2009. 

The rest of the McCourt family reside in New York City, but naturally they felt the gravitational pull to their Limerick homeplace for the occasion. 

The remaining McCourt men, Frank’s brother Malachy and his wife Diana, son Conor and his two young children visited Limerick over the weekend, and paid the Lime Tree a visit for the show. 

Conor has spent many occasions in Limerick since his childhood, and said: “Every time I’ve come back to Limerick, everyone’s been welcoming. Even before all the Angela’s Ashes hype, people are very kind.”

The New York City man described how sentimental it was being present at the premier of the musical, produced by Pat Moylan Productions, exactly 10 years after the death of his uncle. 

“They asked me to say a few words at the end of the show,” he explained, “so I got up, and of course the first thing I said was that 10 years ago that night, I was sitting spending my last minutes with Frank in the hospice. I actually got a bit choked up and Gus gave me a great hug and the whole place fell apart.

“To me, Frank was my fellow civil servant. I was working for the NYPD and he was a schoolteacher, so we had that bond. We both worked for New York City, and were both looking forward to our pension,” he laughs. 

“I think it wasn’t only Frank's writing that was so powerful, it was the way he was. He was so easy to talk to, he was warm and also sharp. He was the complete package, and the world was ready to accept somebody like him, it was the right place and right time.” 

Conor remarks on how his two boys remind the family of a young Frank and Malachy: “The boys are 18 months apart, and they’re very much like Frank and Malachy. My younger guy is a little bit bold, and the older one is more cerebral and I think that Frank as a child had a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders, and had to take care of the family. The dynamic is the same, they love each other. 

“We sat on the steps of the Frank McCourt museum and had a picnic, and my father told stories of Limerick to the boys, it was great,” he added.