Angela's Ashes

Synopsis: Based on the best selling autobiography by Irish expat Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all odds to escape the poverty endemic in the slums of pre-war Limerick. The film opens with the family in Brooklyn, but following the death of one of Frankie's siblings, they return home, only to find the situation there even worse. Prejudice against Frankie's Northern Irish father makes his search for employment in the Republic difficult despite his having fought for the IRA, and when he does find money, he spends the money on drink.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Alan Parker
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
145 min

1 When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how my brothers and I managed to survive 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. You beautiful wee thing. You are. Look at you. So gorgeous. What is it? It's a beautiful wee girl, Mrs. Leibowitz. After four boys. Can you believe it? A wee girl. What name is it, Malachy? It's Margaret Mary. Oh, she's so beautiful, Minnie. Brown hair and blue eyes. Just like her mom. Beautiful wee thing. Aren't you? Come on, Eugene. Oliver, come on. Splash. Eugene, come on. Stop crying. Good boy. We're in the bath. Bubbles. Don't cry, Eugene. Don't cry. - Hey, Eugene, look at my bum. Ooh. - Malachy, stop showing your bum. I'm only trying to make them laugh. Come on, Oliver. Come on. Stop crying. Swee tJesus in heaven, Malachy. She's awful quiet, Angela. A wee bit cold. I'll get Mrs. Leibowitz. Everyone loved little Margaret. Dad said there must have been a holiday in heaven the day this baby was made. Dad said he would get a job soon... and buy her dresses of silk and shoes with silver buckles. Poor little Margaret. Just a few days in this world and she was taken back... by the same angels who brought her here. - God, look at these twins. - Stop crying, Ollie. Eugene, please. Frankie, I can't do this. Where do I put the pin? Me dad said he was going for cigarettes, and the twins just screamed and screamed. Thank God for Mrs. Leibowitz who lived upstairs. Boys, oh, my. What happened to you, huh? Where's your mother? What do you want? We've got no dinner. Now eat just a little bit more. Come on, Angela. You have to eat. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Come on. Come on. Mommy. Oh, my God. The children are naked, Delia. Where did Angela get such filthy habits? Her mother was always spotless. Yech! The stink is awful! It's the twins. Their arses are shitty. It's a mouth like a sewer you have. No wonder. With a father from the North of Ireland... with his funny manner and his Protestant ways. You could go to hell saying a thing like that. Where is your father? He went for cigarettes. - Two days ago. - I'll break his face, I swear. Dad will be home soon. Come on, Oliver. Come on, Eugene. Get paper and a pen, Delia. We have a letter to write. My aunts wrote to my mam's mother... to send money for the tickets. We must have been the only Irish family in history... to be saying good-bye to the Statue of Liberty instead of hello. We were going back to Ireland where there was no work... and people were dying of the starvation and the damp. It made no sense to me, but what did I know. I was only five going on six. Christ, look at that coat. Get you buttoned up. There we are now. I'll take him to the lavatories, then I'm off to see the I.R.A. man for me money. Francis, you can come with me for the company, eh? I'll be needing him to help me here. Won't I be needing him to help me carry all the money? All right, Frankie, you can go with your pop. Malachy! Malachy, don't go to the lavatory there. - I can't stop. - Peeing all over me. It's coming out. Da, Da, wait for me. I wanna go. No record? But I did my bit for Ireland. I fought with the Flying Columns during the Troubles. Had a price on my head. Had to be smuggled to America. There's no record of your service here. None. But I have a wife and four children. I'm raising my sons to love Ireland. Look. Please. We have nothing. I'm sorry. We can't be handing out money... to every man who wanders in here... saying he did his bit for Ireland. I'll look into your claim. I'll let you know what turns up. Here's money for the bus back into the city. You couldn't add to that to make the price of a pint, could you? It's the drink you're after, is it? One pint is hardly a drink. You'd make that child walk back into Dublin because you're after a pint? Remember this, Francis, this is the new Ireland. Wee men in wee chairs with wee bits of paper. I think you should leave. Declan, the door. And don't bother coming back. This is the Ireland men died for, is it? Come on, Frankie. Free, my arse. We're not handing out money to support the Guinness family. He wanted to marry her off to the King of Sicily. But the beautiful young Wilgefortis, she didn't want to be marrying no scabby old man, did she? So, she prayed to God for help. And do you know what he did, Frankie? No, what did he do? He grew a moustache and a beard on her face. - He didn't. - He did. Malachy, move away from that window. Frank, take Eugene, and don't forget your bag. Put your coat on. Malachy, put your coat on now. I'm telling you I'll kick you so hard. Here. There you go. Oliver's been sick on my jumper. Hello, Mam. Oh, come on. This is Malachy. Mrs. Sheehan, pleased to meet you. And Aggie. Hi, Aggie. How are you? And Pat. Hi, Pat. What are you staring at? Nothing. Grandma said she had no room for us in her house, so she gave us 10 shillings for two weeks' rent... in an upstairs room in Windmill Street, near my mam's sister Aggie. - Mind yourself, Mrs. Sheehan. - Look at that. - I'll take the weight. - Why is the heart on fire? It's the sacred heart of Jesus. Don't these children know anything about their religion? Ah, mom, it's different in America. The Sacred Heart is everywhere. Even in America. There's no excuse for that kind of ignorance. Look. That's the Baby Jesus. And if you ever need anything, you should pray to him. Will you tell Jesus that we're hungry? Shut up! - Ma! - Ma! They're biting me! - Mom, I'm bleeding! - Hold your noise now. Look! Look at Malachy! His arm's all bloody! It's the fleas, Angela. They're everywhere. - Malachy, out of the bed. - Jesus, will we get no rest? - Malachy, come on. Pull. - Let's take the mattress downstairs. - Pull, Malachy, pull. - Come on. Come to me. - Get the mattress downstairs. - There's fleas on the floor! - That's it, on the ground. - Ouch! Malachy, we're surely gonna catch our death out here... and you'll be getting pneumonia. Me dad said that if a man could jump like a flea, one leap would take him halfway to the moon. Once a flea has bit a human being, the smell of blood is too much for them. They're ready for the lunatic asylum. They were brought over by the English, to keep us up at night... and drive us out of our wits entirely. Because the English knew that the fleas, they multiply faster than the Hindus. - What's the water for, Dad? - They do. They do! I wouldn't put it past the English. St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland; the English brought the fleas. And the damp. We loved our dad's stories. Hey, wait a minute. I need some coal. I've got a docket here from St. Vincent de Paul. Mister, please. Francis. Fra- put that down. Don't pick coal off the road. We're not beggars. It's terrible. Look. No pride, Frankie. Come on! I can't believe you. This baby's sick, and he needs a hot drink. Now, if you're too grand to pick coal off the road, I'm not. Frankie. Malachy! Okay, come on. Let's go. Oh, sh*t! Malachy, come on. Angela, come on. It's a rabbit she is, that Angela. I don't see why we should be paying for her mistakes. Five born and one gone and so useless she can't even scrub a floor. Go easy with the sugar. We're not millionaires. She was always angry, was Aunt Aggie. Me dad said it was a good thing she didn't own the stable in Bethlehem... or the Holy Family would be wandering the world still crumbling with hunger. I swear the skinny fella's the image of his father. Aye, with the odd look and the sour puss and all. I think this fella likes me. 'Tis Al Jolson he thinks I am. I think we'll keep this little fella. - No, he's our brother! - That's Eugene. - You can't keep him. - Don't bother. I wouldn't want anything that was half Limerick and half North of Ireland. - You should be so lucky. - Don't worry. I'll have me own someday. If I have to crawl to Lourdes on me two bended knees. Oh, did you bang your foot? Show me your foot. I'll go down to Thompsons the undertakers... to see about the coffi n and the carriage. The St. Vincent de Paul Society will surely pay for that. God knows. Oh, son. Jesus, I said to meself, I have so much gas in my system, 'tis a great pity to waste it. So I shove a pipe up my arse, light a match to it... and there I have a fine flame ready to boil water in any billy can. The English come from trenches... to pay me any amount of money to boil their water. That's no story to be telling in the presence of a dead child. 'Tis better than sitting with a long face. I made so much money in the trenches that I was able to bribe the generals, who didn't normally give a fiddler's fart about the Irish, to let me out of the army, and off I went to Paris, where I had a fine time drinking wine... with the models and artists and talkin' the lingo. You think that's funny, do you? I had a great time over there. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et luxperpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Anima eius, et anime omnium fidelium defunctorum, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pacem. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. I don't know why we can't keep Oliver. I don't know why they sent him away in a box like my sister. It's not right. I wish I could say something to someone. Dad said he was going to the Labor Exchange to get the dole. He'd be home by noon, he said, and he'd have rashers and eggs and tea. He wasn't home by noon... - or 1.00... - On your feet. Or 2.00... or anytime before the sun went down that day in May. Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Come here. Stop! Quit that now! Quit! Stop, I said! Quit now! You little hooligan. Is that the kind of behavior you brought from America? Is it? Well, you come on with me. I'll put the fighting out of you, boy. My little Yankee Doodle Dandy. The masters at Leamy's School all have straps and sticks. They hit you if you don't know that God made the world, or if you don't know the patron saint of Limerick. They hit you if you can't say the Hail Maryin Irish... or if you can't ask for the lavatory pass in Irish. They hit you if you laugh, if you're late, if you talk. One master will hit you if you don't know that Eamon De Valera... was the greatest man that ever lived. Another will hit you if you don't know that Michael Collins... was the greatest man that ever lived. McCourt. You're a bad Yank, McCourt. What are you? They said we were cowboys and gangsters, sir. - I was only joking, sir. - No more jokes. - It's not their fault they're Yanks. - T'isn't, sir. You should go down on your two knees every night... and give thanks to God that you're not a Yank. If you were, Al Capone himself would be coming to you for instruction. I know Oliver is dead. Malachy knows Oliver is dead, but little Eugene is only two and too small to know anything. Malachy and I make him laugh, pull faces, put pots on our heads, take him to the park, show him the flowers. Me dad says Eugene is lucky to have such brothers like me and Malachy. He died anyway. Ma. Please, God, is this what you want, is it? I'm not supposed to question this, am I? You took my son, Oliver. You took his brother, Eugene. You took their beautiful wee sister, Margaret Mary. Dear God above, why do you want the wee children to die? Please, God, don't let Malachy and me and the rest of us... be taken off in the box for the hole in the ground. Or even Aunt Aggie or Mr. Benson at Leamy's School. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Toast. Be going in a minute, son. No, that's Eugene's coffin. I'll tell mam you put your pint on Eugene's coffin. - Have another pint, mister. - Will you wait outside a few minutes? - No! - Jesus, if that was my son, I'd kick his arse from here to County Kerry. I mean, if a man can't have a pint on the day of a funeral, what use is living at all? I couldn't have spent another minute in that room. I saw me little twins morning, noon and night. If we hadn't have moved, I'd have gone out of my mind... and ended up in the lunatic asylum. I'm sorry, but it was only five months ago. And before that, I lost my little girl in New York. And I've the two boys here and I've one on the way. Ah, now, missus, sit down, will you? Thanks. That's a nice coat you're wearing. It was given to me by my cousin in Brooklyn. It's not new. McCourt. That's not a Limerick name. Where'd you get a name like that? My husband, sir. He's from the North. Why don't you go to Belfast and see what they can do for you up there? I don't know, sir. Of course you don't know. There's great ignorance in the world. I said there's a great deal of ignorance in the world. And what do you want from us? There isn't a stick of furniture in the new place. - Does your husband have a job? - No, sir, he's on the dole. We'll give you a docket for a table, two chairs and two beds. You can take it to the second hand furniture shop in Irish town. Excuse me, sir, but will the beds be second hand? Of course they will. I'm worried about sleeping in beds people might have died in. Especially if they died of the consumption. Beggars can't be choosers, Mrs. McCourt. Thanks. I should say it's a good fire. Could it be true Hey, hey, that's my wife. Someone like you Who's he? That, Francis, is Pope Leo XIII, and he was a great friend of the working man. You know, I found this in an alley in Brooklyn in someone's rubbish. No doubt thrown away by some eejit that had no time for the working man. Ugh, what's that stink? Hey, what are you doing? Why are you emptying your bucket in our lavatory? Your lavatory, mister? Ah, no. I think you're mistaken there. This here is the lavatory for the whole lane, it is. The buckets of 11 families get flushed down here every day. And it gets fairly powerful here in the warm weather. So powerful you'll be calling for a gas mask. So, good night to you. Missus. I hope you'll be happy in the house. Thanks very much. And there was this big man, and he came along and he met this woman, and he grew a big huge beard all over her face, and then they got married. Have we moved again, Frankie? No, they wouldn't go without the Pope. Oh, Jesus, look at the state ofyouse. Couple of drowning rats. Get your wet clothes off, dry yourself by the fire, and say hello to your brother Michael. He's fatter than the Baby Jesus. He's the spitting image of your dead little sister... with the lovely blue eyes and the gorgeous eyebrows. Why are we all upstairs? The downstairs is full of the damp. It's killing us one by one. That lavatory could kill us with every class of disease. It was the Limerick damp that killed your wee brothers. We'll be dry up here for now. We'll go downstairs for the spring. It's like going away on holiday to a nice, warm, foreign place, like- like Italy. - Italy? - Aye, we could be in Sorrento. Calcutta, more like. - What about the Pope? - He can stay downstairs in Ireland. Will you look at the state of those children's shoes? I can't go to the St. Vincent's for boots. I'm too weak to be standing in the queue. There was a woman who had triplets waiting forever in that queue. Have you no pride, Angela, begging like that? What would you do, Mr. Grand Manner? You'd let them go barefoot before you got off your arse, useless feck that you are. Right. Useless feck, is it? We'll see. It's poor I am. It's unlucky I am. But it's useless... I'm not. Look at those shoes! - Where are your shoes? - Don't know, sir. Of course you know, boy. Where are they? Did your mommy not put on your shoes this morning? Did you come to school without shoes, did you? How many times have you been told about walking the streets in your bare feet? By God, I'll boot the bare feet out of you, boy. Put them on, boy. Quiet! Do I hear sneering in this class? Do I hear jeering at another's misfortune? Is there any boy in this class who thinks he's perfect? If so, raise your hands. Is there any boy here now who has money galore to be spending on shoes? Raise your hands. No. There are boys in this class who have no shoes at all, and it's not their fault. It's not their shame. Our Lord had no shoes. He died shoeless. You don't see Him hanging on the cross sporting shoes. - Do you, boys? - No, sir! What is it you don't see Our Lord doing? Hanging on the cross sporting shoes. "Hanging on the cross sporting shoes," what? Hanging on the cross sporting shoes, sir. Everyday, me dad would look for a job, - somehow, he never seemed to get one. - We've enough for today. - Mam said it was his Northern accent. - No work here. Sorry. Grandma said it was because of his funny manner. Me dad knew those lanes like the back of his hand. He walked them often enough when he couldn't get work... and was too ashamed to come home to me mam. That's why we loved Easter. Because it was at Easter that me dad got his first job. The dipsy doodle is the thing to beware The dipsy doodle is gonna get in your hair And if it gets to you it couldn't be worse The things you say will all come out in reverse Don't go up the mine, Manny That's the way the dipsy doodle works The dipsy doodle is a way to do fine It's almost always at the back of your mind You never know it's there until it's too late And then you get in such a terrible state Will you stop it? Maybe if you weren't strangling me, I'd be fine. - Stop it. - When you think you're crazy It was only at the Limerick Cement Factory, but he still wore a collar and tie. He said a man without a tie had no respect for himself. Come on. In Mount joy jail One Monday morning High upon the gallows tree Kevin Barry gave his young life For the cause of liberty For Jesus' sake, put a sockin it! Some of us have to go to feckin' work in the morning! Yet there's no one can deny As he walked to death that morning He proudly held his head His head up high Francis! Malachy! Come down here, boys. I have the Friday penny for you. No. Be quiet. Up, boys! Those Red Branch Knights! Those Fenian men! The glorious I.R.A.! Up! Up! Up! I have the Friday penny for you, boys. You line up like soldiers now, and promise to die for Ireland. - I don't want it. - I don't want it either. Damn! When we woke up the next morning, he was still asleep. He missed work and lost his job. And what do I have here, Clohessy? Strips of newspaper, sir. And what do they represent, Clohessy? Pieces of the Limerick Leader, sir. No! The body and blood of Christ. If you don't pay more attention, it'll be the Last Rites... you'll be getting, not your Holy Communion. Irish is the language of patriots... and English of traitors and informers. But Latin- ah, boys, Latin- that the Holy Martyrs spoke before expiring... in the foaming mouths of ravenous lions. Yes, it's Latin that gains entrance to heaven itself. But there are boys in this class... who will never know Sanctifying Grace. And why? Because of greed. Those greedy little black guards are talking even now... about the money they'll get from the Collection. They'll go from house to house in their little suits like beggars. And will they take any of that money... and send it to the poor black babies in Africa as they should? Oh, no. It's off to the cinema the First Communion boys will go... to wallow in the disgusting filth... spewed across the world by the devil's henchmen... in Hollywood. - Isn't that right, McCourt? - 'Tis, sir. Don't speak, you! Can't you see that God is on your tongue? Where is God, boys? On his tongue, sir. On his tongue. My friend, Mikey Molloy, tells us all about how much money we'll make... at the Collection after our First Communion, when we all knock on the neighbors' doors... and get as much as five shillings for sweets and cakes... and even go to the Lyric Cinema to see James Cagney. - I seen it three times. - What happens in it? Also, Mikey is the expert in the lane on girls' bodies... and dirty things in general. Now, on top, the girls have great floppy things called titties. And at the end of them, great red things like dogs' noses. And down at the bottom- Now that's an entirely different matter. - They don't have a mickey down there. - What do they have? I can tell you, but I don't think he should hear it. Malachy, go away. Eww! Yuck! Oh, look, I'll take one of these as well. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession. Yes, my child. And what sins have you committed? I told a lie, I hit my brother, I stole a penny from my mother's purse, and I ate a sausage on Friday. Yes, my child, anything else? I listened to dirty things about girls from the lanes... who don't care what they do because they- because they've already done it with their brothers. And who told you these things? - Mikey Molloy, Father. - Hmm. For your penance, say three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, and say a special prayer for me. Am I one of the worst boys, Father? No, mychild. You have a long way to go. Wake up! Wake up! His First Communion, the happiest day of his life, and the lot of you still snoring in there. Here, you two, get up. Go on. Look at him. A bar of soap wouldn't be lost on him. I'll be red raw. I swear it's the Northern Ireland in you. It attracts the dirt. You've the dirty gob of your father. Aah! That's cold. Jesus, you have enough dirt in your ears... to grow potatoes. Will you look at that mop? It won't lie down. You didn't get this hair from our side of the family. This is North of Ireland hair you got from your father. It's like- like what you'd see on a Presbyterian. Will you stop spitting on me? A little spit won't kill you. If your mother had married a proper, decent Limerick man, you wouldn't have stand-up, North of Ireland, Protestant hair. And we wouldn't be late. Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi. Will you stop your clucking and get back to your seat? Corpus Christi. Mam, can I go now and make the Collection? I want to go to the Lyric to see James Cagney. You can't make the Collection until you've had... a proper First Communion breakfast at my house. Mam. Will you look at him? The manners of a pig. He eats like a Presbyterian. Is it a millionaire you think I am? An American? Is there any more tea in the pot, Mam? - Aye. - I could do with a cup. You allright, Frankie? - What's the matter, Frankie? - What's wrong with that child? Look what he did! He's thrown up the body and blood of Jesus. What am I to do? I have God in me backyard! I'm taking you to the priest. That was a dreadful thing you did in my backyard. In the name of The Father and of The Son and of the Holy Ghost. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a day since my last confession. A day? And what sins have you committed in a day, my son? I overslept, and I nearly missed my First Communion. My hair stuck up like a Protestant's, and I threw up my First Holy Communion breakfast. Now me grandma says she has God in her backyard and what shall she do? Tell your grandma to wash it away with a little water. Holy water or ordinary water? - He didn't say, Grandma. - Well, go back and ask him. In the name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a minute since my last confession. A minute? Are you the boy that was just here? - I am, Father. - What is it now? My grandma says holy water or ordinary water? He says ordinary water, and don't go bothering him again. Bothering him? Well, the ignorant old bog trotter. There wasn't anytime for the Collection. Not a penny. So Mikey Molloy pretended to have one of his fits... so that I could slip in when no one was looking. - Missus, quick, He's having a fit! - Is he all right? Mr. O'Brien, quick! Watch he doesn't swallow his tongue. Does anyone know what to do? - No, don't. I'll do anything. - Oh, no, you won't. You've had your last chance. You can take this with you. Shoot him! All you had to do was bump me off. - Do you want a toffee? - Thanks. I'm glad I did the First Communion. I'm glad I got my First Confession over and done with. Now I'm free to grow up. Old enough to be ten, anyway. Old enough to pay the ultimate penance for growing up. Worse than joining the army or the police... or going to Australia or becoming a nun in Africa. Worse than that, I had to learn Irish dancing. I don't want to learn it. Ow. What did you do that for? Just don't want to learn how to dance. ...and back and back. Up and back and one, two. Lift up your feet, for the love of Jesus. One, two, three. And one, two, three. And up and back, and one, two, three. And up and back, andone, two, three. If my mates saw me making a pure eejit out of meself... at the Irish dancing, I'd be disgraced forever. I want to be Fred Astaire. Irish dancers look like they have steel rods stuck up their arses. Would you stop the frowning Frankie McCourt? You've a face on you like a pound of tripe. And up and back, and one, two, three. And up and back, and one, two, three. The next time I went to dancing lessons, I bumped into Paddy Clohessy. - Hi, Frankie. - Hiya, Paddy. How you doing? - Not too bad. You? - Grand. Catch. Frankie, I'm telling you, that dancing stuff is for sissies. You won't be able to play football next. - I won't? - You'll be running around girlie-like. - Shut up. - Everyone will be laughing at you. - They will? - Next thing, you'll be knitting socks. I was finished with the dancing. Every Saturday, my mam's sixpence got me and Paddy into the Lyric... with enough left to stuff our gobs with Cleeves' toffee. Yay! I was so happy, I didn't know whether to sh*t or go blind. Every week, I'd take the money and skip the dancing... and go to the pictures. When I got home, I'd make up the dancing... - and pretend I had a poker up my arse. - Well done, son. Hitler shows himself in his true colors. He marches his troops into the Rhineland... in defiance of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The swastika spreads its evil shadow. Sir, what use is Euclid when the Germans are bombing everything in sight? What use is Euclid? Without Euclid, the Messerschmitt could never have taken to the sky... and dart from cloud to cloud... and bomb the be jesus out of the English, who deserve it after what they did to the Irish for 800 years. Euclid is grace and beauty... and elegance. - Do you understand that, boys? - We do, sir. - We do, sir. - I doubt it. To love Euclid is to be alone in this world. You. Clohessy. Who stood at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified? The Twelve Apostles, sir? Clohessy, what is the Irish word for fool? Omadhaun, sir. Sir. I know who stood at the foot of the cross, sir. It was the three Marys, sir. That's Fintan Slattery. He's going to be a saint when he gets older. Everyone know she wears his sister's blouse at night... and curls his hair with hot iron tongs... so that he'll look gorgeous at Mass on Sundays. It's no wonder we played truant. Chickens! Of all the girls I've known and I've known some Untill first met you I was lonesome And when you came in sight my heart grew light And this old world seemed new to me You're really swell I have to admit you Deserve expressions that really fit you Hurry up, Frankie. I can't hold them. I've racked my brain hoping to explain all the things that you do to me Bei mir bist du schon please let me explain Frankie, there's nothing in the world... like a good feed of apples and a drink of water... and a good sh*t and plenty of grass to wipe your arse with. Paddy, quick, wipe your arse. It's milking time! Will you wait for me? Frankie, wait. Frankie, you're doing it wrong. You've got to pull it down. - You have to squeeze down. - Shut up! - Shut up! - Frankie, don't! - Hey, clear off, you little bastards! - Run, Paddy, run! I'll give you such a kick in the hole, you won't know what hit you. Here, piggy. Mikey Molloy persuaded us to go to Peter Dooley's house. Peter Dooley has a hump like the one Charles Laughton had... in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That's why they call him Quasimodo. Oh, and he has these four sisters with the enormous breasts. Okay, it's a shilling for the three of you. Climb up the spout, and each of youse have a look, but no wankin'. I've my own sisters. Why should I pay to see your naked sisters? 'Cause looking at your own naked sisters is the worst sin ofall. Not even a bishop in the world could forgive you for it. What canyousee? - Oh, it's grand. - Can you see their tits? I said no wankin'. There's to be no wankin' up the spout. - Oh, it's grand. - I said no wankin' up the spout! - You perverted bunch of filth! - Let go! My daughters can't even wash themselves on a Friday night! Poor Quasimodo. He was right. Gawking at your own naked sisters is the worst sin of all. Except when you charge a shilling for the pleasure. That's worse still. Introibo adaltare Dei. And then you say? Ad Deum quila etificat juventutem meam. Right. Introibo adaltare Dei, and then you say? Ad Deum quila etificat juventutem meam. Very good. Again. Introibo ad- Ad Deum quila etificat juventutem mean. Hello. How are you? This is my son, Francis. He can recite the Latin, and he's ready to be an altarboy. - Ad Deum- - I'm sorry. We have no room. Never mind, son. Sacred Stan said there was no room for him. I'll tell you what it is. 'Tis class distinction. They don't want the boys from the lanes at the altar. They don't want the ones with the scabby knees... and their arses hanging out of their trousers. They want the boys with the nice shoes and the clean hair... and the fathers with the steady jobs. Not useless like you. That's what it is. And it's hard to hang on to your faith. You buy pints for people you don't know who tell you you're a grand man, while your children are at home with their bellies stuck to their backbones. Aye, you're right. I'll get a job. I promise. If you get a job, you lose it the third week... because you drink all the wages... and you miss the work. We'll get by, Angela. I'll change. The dole is 19 shillings and the rent is 6. And that leaves 13 shillings to feed and clothe 5 people. God is good, you know. God might be good for someone somewhere, but he hasn't been seen lately in the lanes of Limerick. Oh, Angela. You could go to hell for saying that. Aren't I there already, Malachy? Come here. Come here. And then the angels left another baby on the stairs again. What are you going to call him, Angela? I like the name Kevin or Sean. If you called out the door, "Kevin, Sean, come in for your tea," you'd have half of Limerick running at you. - I like the name Alphonsus. - Alphonsus? That's a stupid name. Ah, Jesus Christ! - Don't curse! - Will you leave the poor child alone? I wondered how many more babies... the angels would leave on the stairs. Someone else to share my dinner with. Ow. What did you do that for? Don't laugh. Now you know what it feels like. At least my grandpa in the North... sent us five pounds for the baby Alphie. All right. You go home and tell your mother I'll be back in a few minutes. You're not to go to the pub, Da. Mom said you're to bring home the money. - You're not to drink the pint. - Now listen. - You go home to your mother now. - Da. Give us the money. That money is for the new baby. Da! Please, Da. Go home! Will you come in here, Frankie? I want you to go down to South's Pub, and I want you to stand in the middle of the pub... and tell every man that your father is drinking the money for the baby. You're to tell the world there's not a scrap of food in the house. There's not a lump of coal for the fire. There's not even a drop of milk for the baby's bottle. Oh, come on. And I pray that the world would in peace let me be And the green glens of Antrim Are welcoming me And if you only knew How the light of the moon My heart is banging away, and all I can think of doing... is giving him a good kick in the leg and running away. - You'd imagine a picture - But I don't. Because I remember all the nice times he sat me by the fire... and told me his stories of Cuchulain, Roosevelt and De Valera. Later, he'll be home singing and offering us a penny to die for Ireland. It'll be different now. Because it's bad enough to drink the dole or the wages, but a man who drinks the money for a new baby has gone beyond the beyonds. Mam. I couldn't find him. Go to bed, Frankie. With Confirmation, you will become true soldiers of the Church. That entitles you to die a martyr... in the event we're invaded by Protestants... or Mohammedans or any other class of heathen. You will have the gifts... of the Holy Ghost. Wisdom... understanding, counsel. What is the Third Station of the Cross, my child? When Jesus falls for the first time. What is the Fourth Commandment, my child? Honor thy father and thy mother. Are you allright, Frankie? Father Gorey is touching me with oil and praying, and that means I'm going to die. But I don't care. And then Dr. Campbell came in and held my hand. It was then that I knew I was going to get better. Because a doctor would never fart... in the presence of a dying boy. They gave me a whole new body full of blood. Sister Rita said it came from a soldier at Sarsfield Barracks. Oh, son. You're a grand old soldier. What's wrong with me? You've had the typhoid. Don't go. Hey, you're a big boy now. And don't forget you got soldier's blood in you. You're over the worst of it. Soon be home to Sorrento. That was the first time my dad ever kissed me. I felt so happy I could have floated out of the bed. Everyday, I couldn't wait for the doctors and nurses... to leave me alone so that Icould read my books. I loved having a lavatory of my own... where I could read for hours and hours. "To die, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub." Frankie, are you dead? Isn't it grand, Seamus? It's Shakespeare. I loved the Shakespeare. It was like having jewels in your mouth when you said the words. "I do believe, induced by potent circumstances, that thou art mine enemy." "I do believe, induced by potent circumstances, that thou art mine enemy." "I do believe, induced by potent circumstances, that thou art mine enemy." - Bye! Bye! - There's Frankie. But I missed me mom and dad and Malachy... and little Michael and the baby Alphie- God knows why. - Frankie, will you hurry up now? - Bye. It was a happy day when I finally went home. - Hello, Frankie. - Welcome home, Frankie. You're a grand soldier, Frankie. A credit to your mother and father. Welcome home, Frankie. Hello, Frankie. It's grand to have you home, soldier. Thank you, Mrs. Purcell. Goodman, Frankie. Ah, Francis, my boy. But the moment I saw me dad with Alphie on his lap... was an empty feeling in my heart, because I know he's out of work again. - Welcome home, son. - Da. It's good to see you. You too. Get a wee sit, right? St. Wilgefortis' mom had nine children. But still, I loved having my dad to myself in the morning. I loved his stories where motorcars and planes went under water. Submarines flew up in the air, and polar bears wrestled with elephants on the moon. He was the Holy Trinity, wasmy dad, with three people in him. The one in the morning with his tea and Woodbines telling us the stories. The one who tried so hard to find work but never did. And the one who came home at night with the smell of whiskey on him. But he was reading all the time he was at the hospital. I'm sorry, Mrs. McCourt. He's missed over two months of school. He'll have to go back to the fifth class. I'm really very sorry. Mom, I don't want to go back to fifth class. Malachy's in fifth class, and I'm a year older than him. Oh, come on, Frankie. But all me friends will laugh at me because I've been put back. No. What I needed was a miracle, and it happened right there outside the Our Lady Of Liberty Pub. I looked up at her. She smiled. And when I looked down, there was a penny. I spent the penny on a candle... and prayed to St. Francis for him to get me out of my little brother's class. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name- Take that sour look off your puss, Francis McCourt, or you will feel the end of my stick. Francis McCourt is going to show you... how well he learned to write in this class last year. He's going to write a composition on our Lord. Aren't you, McCourt? He's to tell us what it would be like if our Lord had grown up in Limerick, the holiest city in Ireland. Wilgefortis' dad wanted to marry her off to the King of Sicily, but the beautiful, young Wilgefortis... was desperate not to marry the scabby old man. Oh. And McCourt scores a brilliant goal. They said that Limerick was the holiest city, but everyone knewthe reason why there were always people in the churches. It was because it was always raining, and they were in there to get out of the wet. The name of my composition is- Title, McCourt. The title. The title of my composition is "Jesus and the Weather." What? "Jesus and the Weather," sir. All right, read it. "I don't think Jesus, who is our Lord, would have liked the weather in Limerick, because it's always raining and the Shannon keeps the whole city damp. My father says the Shannon is a killer river... because it killed my two brothers. When you look at pictures of Jesus, He's always wandering around ancient Israel in a sheet. It never rains there, and you never hear of anyone coughing... or getting the consumption or anything like that. And no one has a job there, because all they do is stand around, eat manna, shake their fists, and go to crucifixions. Any time Jesus got hungry, all He had to do was to walk up the road... to a fig tree oran orange tree and have His fill. Or if He wanted a pint, He could wave Hish and over a big glass... and there was the pint. Or He could visit Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha, and they'd give Him His dinner, no questions asked. So it's a good thing Jesus decided to be born Jewish in that nice warm place. Because if He was born in Limerick, He'd catch the consumption... and be dead in a month, and there wouldn't be any Catholic Church, and we wouldn't have to write compositions about Him. The end." Did you write this composition, McCourt? I did, sir. The miracle worked. I was back in my old class. Stock your mind. It's your house of treasure, and no one in the world can interfere with it. Fill your mind with rubbish, and it'll rot your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind- your mind is a palace. And McCourt gets the ball, he goes round one man... he goes up to the second man- Peggy! Sean! Kathleen, come in for your tea. Come in for the lovely leg of lamb... and the gorgeous green peas, and the floury white potatoes. Oh, shut up, will you, woman? It's a low-class mind to torment your neighbors... when there's nothing but bread and tea we have. Get off to work in England like the rest of our husbands. Go and help England win a war? I wouldn't give the English the steam off my pish. No, you'd rather drink the dole... and watch your sons run around all skin and bone... with their arse hanging out of their trousers. Kathleen, come in for your tea. If I could work, I'd be in the English factories. A factory's no place for a woman. Sitting on your arse is no place for a man. And the game restarts in the second half. He's got the ball. He's going on the run. Oh, you got the ball off him. Get off me, will you? I'm worn out. That's the end of it for me. No more children. A good Catholic woman should perform her wifely duties. Oh, feck off, will you? You'll face eternal damnation, Angela. Well, as long as there are no more children, eternal damnation sounds just fine to me, Malachy. Come on, lads, come on. You'll miss the train. You'll miss a good job. Come on. We've got the Guinness, and we've got the Jameson in England, all right? Right. Uh- Remember your religious duties. And above all, you obey your mother, right? You're the man of the house now, Francis. Mind yourself. Come on. Let's go. Mam said all we had to do was wait two weeks... for the telegram with the money order. Soon we'd have enough money for new boots and coats, ham, cabbage and potatoes for dinner, electric light and maybe even a lavatory like they have in America. Now that Dad is gone to England, sure I your troubles would be over. Surely. - Hello. Thank you very much. - Hi. - Thank you. - There he is! Hey, wait! Has ours come? McCourt? - No. - Are you sure? It's our first telegram. It should be for about three pounds or maybe more. - Sorry. - Can you look in your pouch again? I feckin' did already. I've nothing for you. - Who's a good boy? - Alphie! Begging for leftovers is worse than the dole. Worse than the St. Vincent de Paul Charity. My own mother begging. This is the worst kind of shame- begging for the leftovers from the priests' dinner. Like tinkers holding up their scabby children on street corners. Worse than borrowing from the money lender, Mrs. Finucane. There was only one thing for it. I had to get a job. This is the best morning of all, Frankie, Saturday half day. We start at 8:00 and finish by the time the Angelus rings at 12:00. The dipsy doodle is the thing to beware The dipsy doodle is gonna get in your hair And if it gets you it couldn't be worse The things you say will all come out in reverse Don't go up the mine, Manny That's the way the dipsy doodle works The dipsy doodle isso easy to find It's almost always at the back of your mind You never know it's there until it's too late And then you get in such a terrible state The moon jumped over the cow, hey diddle That's the way the dipsy doodle works The man who delivered 16 hundred weight of coal deserves a pint. And the boy who helped him deserves a lemonade. Your eyes look atrocious- like two piss-holes in the snow. - It's the coal dust, Uncle Pa. - You're a great man, Frank. You can help me every Thursday after school. There's a shilling foryou. More power to your elbow, Frankie. He'll be taking yourjob yet, you know, John. He called me Frank, not Frankie. For the first time, I feel like a man. A man with a shilling in his pocket. A man who had a drink in a pub. Ma, I earned a shilling. Take tuppence, Frankie, and take Malachy to the Lyric. You're a treasure, Frankie. You deserve it. God above, look at those eyes. Frankie! Frankie! A shilling from Mr. Hannon, and four shillings in tips. Will you go to that mirror and look at your eyes? Oh, jeez. That's the end of it. No more Mr. Hannon. Mr. Hannon needs me. I'm sorry for Mr. Hannon's troubles, but we have troubles of our own. And the last thing I need is a blind son. Now, wash your eyes, and you can go to the Lyric. Malachy, what's happening? The man in the hat is sticking a gold dagger into the nice lady's belly. - Is there blood all over? - No. She's showing a magic ring. I can't see a thing. The doctor said... this was the worst case of conjunctivit is he'd ever seen. How long will he be in, Doctor? Only God knows that, woman. I should have seen this child months ago. My working days were over. Eyes wide open. Wider. Wide as you can. - Ow, Ma! - If only dad was here. He's not coming, Mam. He might be asleep in one of the carriages. Come on, Mam. Let's go home. He's not coming. He definitely said in his letter two days before Christmas. Maybe the boat from Holyhead was late. That could make you miss your train. The Irish Sea's desperate this time of year. He doesn't care about us. He's over there drunk in England. Don't talk about your father like that. - Boots! - Me! Me! Next. And where's the husband? He's in England, sir. England, is it? And where's the weekly telegram? The big five pounds? He didn't send us a penny in months, sir. Well, we all probably know why, don't we? No, sir. We all know there's more than an occasional Limerick man... been seen trotting around with a Piccadilly tart, don't we? He's not in Piccadilly, sir. He's in Coventry. Mam went begging again at the St. Vincent de Paul. She got a food voucher so that at least we could have a Christmas dinner. And then, on Christmas Eve, our neighbor, Walter the horse, died. And our dad came home. It's Pa! Dad! Dad! Hey. - We were expecting you yesterday. - Aye, well. Jesus and Mary, what have you done to yourself? Well, that Irish Sea was very rough, you know. Bumped my head. Nearly fell over the side. Wouldn't be a fight, would it? Wouldn't be the drink? You said you'd bring us something. Well, uh, I have. Got a bit peckish on the boat, did you? We'll have them tomorrow after our Christmas dinner. Did you bring any money? You drank the money, didn't you? Well, times are hard, Angela. Jobs are scarce. - You drank the money, Da? - You drank the money. So they have no respect for their father now, eh? - I have to go and see a man. - Go and see a man, but don't be coming home drunk, singing your stupid songs. Eat something. It's Christmas. I'm not hungry. But if no one wants them, I'll have one of them sheep's eyes. - Oh, not the eyes, Dad. - Da, don't. - Oh, Dad, don't. - What's the matter with you? You're notgoing to eat that, are you? Oh! Dad, oh, yuck. - You're disgusting. - Lovely. There's great nourishment in the eyes. Right. Where are you going? Going to London. On Christmas Day? It's the best day to travel. People in motorcars are always willing to give... the working man a lift to Dublin. Think of all the hard times of the Holy Family and feel guilty. How will you get to Holyhead? Same way I came. There's always a time when no one's looking. Right. You be good boys, eh? Say your prayers. Obey your mother. I'll write. Here, pass them down. Mmm. I got a nut. I didn't get a nut. How come Frankie always gets a nut? Nuts are good for sore eyes. I've a Turkish Delight. Will the nut make his eyes better? 'Twill. One eye or two eyes? Two eyes, I think. Frankie, if I had a nut, I'd give it to you. I would, really. Mam, can me and Michael have another chocolate? Just the one. If I were in America, I could say, "I love you, Dad, " the way they do in the films. But in Limerick, they'd laugh at you. In Limerick, you're only allowed to say... you love God and babies and horses that win. Anything else is softness in the head. Go home, Frankie. In another week, a telegram arrived for three pounds, and we were in heaven. The next Saturday, there was no telegram. Nor the week after. Nor any Saturday forever. What are you doing? Careful. We're making a fire. It's freezing. Come on, Frankie, give us a hand, will you? Oh! Yay! Take the Pope, Michael. Here, put the Pope on the bed. - Is that you, Frankie? - 'Tis, Mrs. Purcell. Come on in out of the cold, son. Holy blessed God, you're freezing with the cold, boy. Isn't it grand, the radio, Frankie? 'Tis, Mrs. Purcell. Do you see Bedouins in the Sahara... and the cowboys on the prairie? I do. And people sipping wine in cafes. And sailors in their galleons sipping their cocoa. And plays about the Greeks, where they have to pluck out their eyes... because they married their mothers by mistake. And the Shakespeare. I love the Shakespeare. Shakespeare is like mashed potatoes, Mrs. Purcell. You can'tget enough of them. I'm sure Mr. Shakespeare must have been an Irishman. If you want the things you love You must have showers Ah, Billie Holiday. Oh, Billie, Billie. I want to be with you in America. There'll be pennies from heaven For you andme Oh, America. Where no one has bad teeth and everyone has a lavatory. Great God in heaven, where's the other room? What room? I rented you two rooms up here, and one is gone. I distinctly remember a wall because I distinctly remember a room. - Where's that room gone? - I don't remember a wall. And if I don't remember a wall, I can't remember a room. I want to know where that wall is and what she did with that room! Do any of you remember a wall? Is that the wall we burned in the fire? Dear God. This takes the bloody biscuit. It's four weeks behind in the rent you are, and now this. Out, missus. I'm putting you out. One week from today, I'll knock on this door, and I want to find nobody home. Everybody out. Never to return. 'Tis a pity you weren't alive when the English... were evicting us and leaving us on the road. No lip from you, missus, or I'll send the men to put you out tomorrow. It's out on the pavement you'll be with the sky peeing on your furniture. Oh, dear God in heaven, what am I going to do? Your cousin, Laman Griffin, is living on the Rosbrien Road... in that little house of his mother's. He'll surely take you in till better times come. I'll go and see him now. Frankie, come with me. And put your mac on. I haven't got a mac. Jesus, what a family. Grandma caught a chill that day, and the chill turned to pneumonia. They shifted her to the City Home Hospital, and when she died, Mam said that herfamily... was disappearing before her very eyes. - Frankie, will you shut the door? - Let's go. - Right. Let's go. - Malachy, the wheel's all bockety. - Kaiser Bill marched over the hill - Shut up, will you? To fight the British Army They're all going to know we got the eviction. Will you be quiet? And so Malachy, Michael, Mam, and me... moved into mom's cousin's- Laman Griffin- on the Rosbrien Road. - Did you get the library books? - I did. Go in the yard and see if there's something else to go on this fire. - Is that for us? - No, his lordship upstairs. Why ask? It was the same every week- one steak, four potatoes, an onion, anda bottle of stout. Frankie, are you back? Will you take up the books? Good boy, Frankie. Put them on the bed there. Angela, the chamber pot is full. Is there anything else your lordship would like? Woman's work, Angela. Woman's work and free rent. - I'll empty it. - You will? Okay, Frankie. Take it outside and rinse it under the tap. And from now on, that will be your job. America, wonderfull and of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Sioux, Apache, Iroquois. Poetry, boys. And the chiefs! Listen. Kicking Bear, Rain-in-the-Face, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and the man himself, the genius Geronimo. Stock your minds, boys, and you can move through the world... resplendent. Clarke, define "resplendent." - I think it's shining, sir. - Pithy but adequate. McCourt, give us a sentence with "pithy." Clarke is pithy but adequate, sir. Adroit, McCourt. You have a mind for the priesthood, my boy, or politics. Tell you mother to come and see me. Hoppy O'Halloran told Mam... to take me to the Christian Brothers- to say he sent me, and I was a bright boy... and ought to be going to secondary school... and maybe to university even. I wish he'd mind his own business. I want to quit school forever and get a job with wages every Friday night... I want to quit school forever and get a job with wages every Fridaynight... and go to the pictures every Saturday like everybody else. I've come to see Brother Murray. I don't know why we bothered. They took one look at us... - What do you want? - This is my son Frank. And said no. Francis, will you listen to me? Are you listening? I am. You're never to let anybody slam the door in your face again. Do you hear me? I do. Impurity. I say again, impurity. Impurity is so grave a sin... the Virgin Maryturns her face away and weeps. She weeps when she looks down... that long, dreary vista of time... and beholds in horror the spectacle of Limerick boys... defiling themselves, polluting themselves, soiling their young bodies which are the temple of the Holy Ghost. Interfering with themselves. We pray to the Virgin Mary to say we're sorry... because we can't stop interfering with ourselves. - The dong! - The dong! - The prick! - The prick! - The dick! - The dick! - The langer! - The langer! - The excitement! - The excitement! - The excitement? - Yeah, the excitement. Yeah, I heard of that. Paddy Clohessy found a priest to confess our hideous sins to. He's 90 years old and deaf as a turnip. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been ages since me last confession. I've been masturbating. Except one day, he died and didn't tell us. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a fort- It's been a fortnight since my last confession. And what have you done since then, my child? I, uh, I hit my brother. I lied to my mother. Yes, my child. And what else? Uh, I did dirty things, Father. Ah, mychild, was that with yourself or with another? Or with some class of beast? Beast? I never heard ofa sin like that, Father. This priest must be from the country. He's opening up new worlds for me. I'll just take him up his last mug of tea. It's a disgrace... that boys like McCourt... and Clarke and Kennedy... have to hew wood and draw water... in this so-called free and independent Ireland... that keeps a class system foisted on us by the English. Well, it disgusts me. We throw our talented children onto the dung heap. If this is the end of school for you, you must get out of this country, boys, and go to America. McCourt, do you hear me? I do, sir. Laman Griffin was drunk every night. Worst still was Fridays when we had to watch him eat his fish and chips. Woman, boil some water for tea. We've no coal or turf. You useless great lump, living free under me roof with you snotty-nosed pack of brats. You. Go to the shop for a few sods and some kindling. Come on. Or are you as useless as your mother? Did you empty the chamber pot today? Shite. I left it on the stairs. You stand there with your thick gob and tell me you didn't do it? I'm sorry. I forgot. I'll do it now. - He couldn't do it. - Shut up, woman. It was his last day at school, and he had to go to the doctor. I said, shut up, woman! You can't tell us to shut up. You're not our father! If I have to get up from this table, you'll be calling for your patron saint. Shut your gob. I'll kill you! - You're not my father! - Stop it! Leave him alone, sweet Jesus. Stop it! He doesn't mean any harm. He's only a child. And he's to start work at the post office on Monday. Give me a fag, woman. I'm telling you, that boy is a little shite. I'll talk to him tomorrow. I'm going to bed. I heard them talking. I heard the sound of Laman's boots as he scraped his way to bed. I thought Mam would come and kiss me goodnight, to say thank you for sticking up forher. But no. She went to him. Where are you going, Frankie? I'm leaving. Why are you leaving, Frankie? Because if I stay, I'll take a knife to his neck. Will you kill him? Go to sleep, Malachy. You're not having my chips. I just wanted to stay the night, Uncle Pat. All right. You can stay in me mother's bed. - Don't expect me to feed you, though. - I won't. There's not a scrap offood in the house. What happened to your face? It's all swole. Did someone punch you? Yeah. Who was punching you? Joe Louis. Joe Louis? I thought he lived in America. Was he visiting Limerick? He was, Uncle Pat. That's not right, him hitting a wee boy... and him being heavyweight champion of America and all. The world champion he is, Uncle Pat. That's worse. And look at you, so skinny. Those arms wouldn't lift two stamps. Some things is most peculiar, Frankie. I'm off to bed. I was so hungry. I sat there and licked the front page and all the headlines. I licked the great attacks of Patton and Montgomery. I licked the sports pages. I licked the market prices of eggs and butter and bacon. I sucked that paper until my face was as black as Al Jolson's. Whoa, boy. Whoa, boy. Easy. Easy. Let's go, Patty. We have to get you- Up you go. Come on, Pat, up the steps. How did you let him get this drunk? Drink never hurt anyone, did it? - I want a drink. - Tomorrow. - Push him, Pa. - I'm pushing. I'm pushing. Come on, Pat. Christ, you're taking both sides of the room. What are you doing in this house, in that bed? Get up and put the kettle on for your poor Uncle Pat... that fell down the worse for drink. Mother of God! You're wearing me dead mother's dress. I washed my clothes for the big job. - What big job? - Telegram boy at the post office. If the post office are taking on the likes of you, - they must be in a desperatestate. - Ah, Frankie. You look... gorgeous. Jesus, what did you wash these in? - Carbolic soap. - They smell like dead pigeons! You'll make a show of us. What time do you have to be at that job? 9:00. Tell them that your aunt was waiting for you and that's why you're late. Late? Why do I have to be late? Just shut up and do what you're bloody well told. Mmm. That's more like it. I often wondered why Aunt Aggie was always so angry. But you're going to need a new shirt. And shoes, not boots. Shoes. Compared to Mam, she had everything, and she didn't have any kids to keep her poor. And here she is buying me clothes for my new job. That's grand. Here's two shillings to get tea and a bun for your birthday. You look so smart, people will think you've robbed a bank. She certainly was a mystery, my Aunt Aggie. A complete mystery. We know every avenue, road, street... terrace, mews, place, close and lane. You don't have to have a hanker To be a broker or banker No, sirree, just simply be my mother's son-in-law Needn't even think of tryin' To be a mighty social lion Sippin' tea if you will be my mother's son-in-law There isn't a door in Limerick we don't know. We knock on all kinds of doors- iron, oak, plywood. Twenty thousand doors. We knock, kick, push. We ring and buzz bells. Risking life and limb as we fight off everydog... who wants to turn us into dinner. There are telegrams for the houses of priests. God bless you. But if you waited for tips from nuns and priests, you'd surely die on their doorsteps. You're lucky to get the Carmody telegram. I am? They're big tippers. You'll get a shilling. How come I got the telegram? - 'Cause nobody else will go there. - Why? 'Cause Theresa Carmody's got the consumption. You don't have to speak like that so You can tell the world I said so Can't you see you got to be my mother's son-in-law I heard that sick people like Theresa... know that they haven't got long to live... and so it makes them mad for love and romance... and dirty things ingeneral. - Telegram. - That's what they say, anyway. - You're all wet and bleeding. - I skidded on me bike. Come in. I'll put something on your cuts. I wonder should I go in. I might get the consumption. That'll be the end of me, and I'll never get to America. - Come in. You'll perish standing there. - I need the shilling tip. Oh, you big poltroon. Now that's better. Why don't you take off your clothes and dry them on the screen there? Uh, no. Ah, do. I will. Lord, you might be scrawny, but that's a fine boyo you have there. My head is full of sin and fear of consumption. Her green eyes... and my shilling tip. And she's on top of me, and I might be killing myself... catching consumption from her mouth. I'm riding to heaven. I'm falling off a cliff. And if this is a sin, I don't give a fiddler's fart. F*** off, you bollocks! Your mouth is a lavatory, McCourt. Did you hear me? - I did, Miss Barry. - You've been heard on the stairs. - Yes, Miss Barry. - Shut up, McCourt. - I will, Miss Barry. - Not another word, McCourt. - No, Miss Barry. - I said shut up, McCourt. All right, Miss Barry. That's the end of it, McCourt. Don't try me. I- I won't, Miss Barry. - Mother of God, give me patience! - Yes, Miss Barry. Take the last word, McCourt. Take it. Take it. Take it! I will, Miss Barry. What do you want most in the world? To go to America. What do you want most? Oh, to fall in love with some gorgeous man. Oh, hold me, Frankie. Uncle Pat? Hello, Frankie. How's the job? Grand. Uncle Pat lookin' after you? He is. But I can look after meself. That's good. - You're getting enough to eat, I see. - Lam. Would you like a chip? No. Michael and little Alphie are fine. That's good. We all miss Malachy. He's, uh- - Miss him? He- - He's gone to join the army band! - Playin' the bugle. - The bugle? Can you imagine that, playin' the bugle? Playin' the fool, more like. That's Malachy, all right. Mad Malachy. I miss him too. - Telegram, Mrs. Carmody. - Thank you. I usually deliver the telegram to your daughter. - Theresa, isn't it? - Theresa's in the sanatorium. Please, God, it wasn't Theresa's fault. The excitement on the sofa is what the consumption does to you. I love her, God, just like St. Francis loved any bird or beast or fish. Please, God, take the consumption away, and I promise I'll never go near her again. Anima eius, et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pacem. Amen. I want to tell the priest and Theresa's mam and dad... that it was me, Frank McCourt, the dirty rotten thing... that sent Theresa straight to hell. I think of Theresa, cold in her coffin, the red hair, the green eyes. I can't understand what I feel, but I know that with all the people who died in my family... and all the people who died in the lanes around me, I never had a pain like this in my heart, and I hope Inever will again. And then, as luck would have it, I had to deliver a telegram... to the moneylender, Mrs. Finucane, and St. Francis smiled down on me once more. How old are you, boy? Fifteen and some, missus. Old enough and ugly enough. Yes, missus. But are you smart, boy? Are you in any way intelligent? I can read and write, Mrs. Finucane. There are people in the lunatic asylum can read and write. - Can you write a letter? - I can, Mrs. Finucane. I'll give you three pence for every letter you write, and three pence if it brings in a payment. Come on Thursday. Bring your own paper and envelopes with you. "O'Brien, Donnolley, Meagher, Hannon, old Mrs. Keneally, Mulcahy, Ahern." We'll see how you do with that lot for a start. Threaten them, boy. Threaten the life out of them. How does this sound? "Dear Mrs. O'Brien: In as much as you have not seen fit to pay me what you owe me, I may be forced to resort to legal action. There's your son, Michael, parading around the world in his new suit, which I paid for, while I myself have barely a crust to keep body and soul together." "I am sure you don't want to languish in the dungeons of Limerick jail, far from friends and family. I remain yours in lit- lit-" - What are these words, boy? - Litigious anticipation. That's a powerful letter. This word, "in as much." That's a holy terror of a word. What does it mean? It means, "this is your last chance." She gives me money for stamps, but I deliver the letters myself and keep the money. What class of a demon would torment her own kind with a letter like that? It's truly awful. What's up with Mrs. Hannon? That old b*tch Finucane sent her a threatening letter. Look. People who write letters like that should be boiled in oil... and then have their fingernails pulled out by blind people. That's great. Thanks very much. Next, please. I'm sorry for their troubles, but there's no other way for me to save the money for the trip to America. If the whole of Ireland was dying of hunger, I wouldn't touch this money in the post office. Thanks, John. Listen here to me, men. Listen a second. This is my nephew here, Frankie McCourt, the son of Angela Sheehan, the sister of my wife, having his first pint. Here's to your health and long life, Frankie. May you live to enjoy the pint, but not too much, eh? Slow down, slow down. Don't drink it all at once. In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning High upon the gallows tree Kevin Barry gave his young life For the cause of liberty Just a lad of 18 summers And no- What kind of state is that to come home in? Up, boys, up! The Red Branch Knights! The Fenian men! The glorious I.R.A.! I can't believe you. It's your father you've become. Tonight- Tonight, I had me first pint. You should be ashamed of yourself. My first pint with Uncle Pa. Uncle Pa should know better. No father around to get me my first pint. Your father was no good to anyone, and neither are you. You're just like him, you drunken feck! I'd rather be like my father than like your Laman Griffin! Mind your tongue. You're drunk. Mind your own tongue. You and Laman Griffin! You slut! You've a mouth on you worse than your drunken eejit father! Better to be like my drunken eejit father than like... that fat, disgustin' shite Laman Griffin, who you crept up to every night there back at Rosbrien! - Shut up! - Laman Griffin. Laman Griffin. Up in the loft with Laman Griffin! Squeak, squeak, squeak, with fat Laman Griffi n rollin' on top of you! - Shut up! Shut up! - You f***in' shut up, you slut! My child. Tell me what troubles you. - I'm 16 today, Father. - Mm-hmm? - I drank my first pint last night. - Yeah. I hit my mother. God help us. But He will forgive you. Is there anything else? I can't tell you, Father. Would you like to go to confession? I- I can't, Father. - I did terrible things. - Well, you can tell St. Francis. You can tell St. Francis. We'll sit here, and you can tell St. Francis... all the things that trouble you. I tell St. Francis about Margaret, Oliver, Eugene. He treads the upper- My father singing "Kevin Barry" and bringing home no money. My father sending no money from England. Theresa on the sofa. My terrible sins of interfering with myself, wankin' all over Limerick and beyond. What do you want? The Christian Brother who closed the door in my face. The tears in Mam's eyes when I slapped her. A- A-And I give her me back this morning, Father, even though it's me birthday and she offered me a cup of tea. Ego te absolvo apeccatis tuis. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Say three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys and three Glory Bes. But what about Theresa Carmody in hell, Father? No, my child, surely she is in heaven. You don't think the sisters in the hospital let her die without a priest? - Are you sure, Father? - I am. God forgives you, and you must forgive yourself. God loves you, and you must love yourself. For only when you love God and yourself can you love all God's creatures. Thank you, St. Francis. Mrs. Finucane. It's Frank. I have your sherry. All the names are here. Me Mam. Two pounds for Christmas. Aunt Aggie. Nine pounds. Maybe for my post office clothes. Bridey Hannon forointment for Mr. Hannon's legs. Mrs. Purcell, Clohessy, Quigley, Molloy. Everyone I know and half of the poor of Limerick are here. They allowed the old b*tch money. Well, not anymore. Not to America, not by plane. I can put you on a ship, though, that leaves Cork in a couple of weeks. The Irish Oak. That'll cost you 55 pounds. Do you have it? I do. And as he was leaving his mother Standing upon the quay She threw her arms around his waist - And this to him didsay - Here you are. Everybody now. A mother's love's a blessing No matter where you roam Keep her while she's living You'll miss her when she's gone Love her as in childhood Though feeble, old and grey For you'll never miss a mother's love Till she's buried beneath the clay Fair play to you, Angela. That was mighty. Well, Frankie, your bladder must be very close to your eye. This night is turning into a proper wake altogether. Is there any possibility... of somebody singing something to liven up the proceedings... before I'm driven to drink from sadness? - Oh, I forgot! - What? The eclipse. The moon is having an eclipse tonight. - What's an eclipse? - Come on, all of you. We'd look a right shower of eejits if we missed that. What's gonna happen? This is a very good sign for you going to America, Frankie. It's a bad sign. I read that the moon is practicing for the end of the world. End of the world, my arse. Would you look at that! - Well, isn't that somethin'? - Wow! Isn't that grand? - It's beautiful. - We might never see that again. Not in our life time, anyway. Was that it, then? 'Tis only the beginning for Frankie McCourt. He'll be back in a few years with a new suit and fat on his bones like any Yank. Anda lovely girl with pearly white teeth, and her hangin' from his arm. Ah, no, Pa. Come on back inside, Angela, and we'll have a drop of sherry. - Good luck in America, Frankie. - Good luck to you. Good luck to ya, Frankie.

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Laura Jones

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Angela's Ashes" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 28 Sep. 2023. <'s_ashes_2862>.

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