|When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived it
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.
. . . nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty;
the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated
mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters;
the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight
hundred long years.
Opening passages of Frank McCourt's memoir.
|Love her as in childhood
Through feeble, old and grey.
For youll never miss a mothers love
Till shes buried beneath the clay.
|The master says it's a glorious thing to die for the Faith
and Dad says it's a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I
wonder if there's anyone in the world who would like us to live.
My brothers are dead and my sister is dead and I wonder if they
died for Ireland or the Faith. Dad says they were too young
to die for anything. Mam says it was disease and starvation
and him never having a job. Dad says, Och, Angela, puts on his
cap and goes for a long walk.
|Theres no use saying anything in the schoolyard because
theres always someone with an answer and theres
nothing you can do but punch them in the nose and if you were
to punch everyone who has an answer youd be punching morning
noon and night.
|I say, Billy, whats the use in playing croquet when
He says, Frankie, whats the use of not playing croquet
when youre doomed?
Frank and friend Billy Campbell, as they
watch the Protestants play croquet, Chaper 7.
|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.
|Its lovely to know that the world cant interfere
with the inside of your head.
|You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own
mind about history and everything else but you cant make
up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your
house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with
The headmaster Mr. O'Halloran, Chapter
|I know when Dad does the bad thing. I know when he drinks
the dole money and Mam is desperate and has to beg . . . but
I don't want to back away from him and run to Mam. How can I
do that when I'm up with him early every morning with the whole
|Mam turns toward the dead ashes in the fire and sucks at the
last bit of goodness in the Woodbine butt caught between the
brown thumb and the burnt middle finger. Michael . . . wants
to know if we're having fish and chips tonight because he's
hungry. Mam says, Next week, love, and he goes back out to play
in the lane.
|Shakespeare is like mashed potatoes, you can never get enough
|I'm on deck the dawn we sail into New York. I'm sure I'm in
a film, that it will end and lights will come up in the Lyric
Cinema. . . . Rich Americans in top hats white ties and tails
must be going home to bed with the gorgeous women with white
teeth. The rest are going to work in warm comfortable offices
and no one has a care in the world.
Frank's arrival in America at the conclusion
of the memoir.