Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt, #1) Angela's Ashes discussion


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Angela's Ashes #1

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message 1: by Israel (new) - added it

Israel Zamora When I first started reading the book I noticed that the author went straight into stating. " Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish Childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." This started to make my group think why is being Irish bad? Is it because of racism? On top of everything Frank had a messed up family. I remember when we were sharing our immigration questions, some said that time period is important so I wondered if they were in The Great Depression.


message 2: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy Irish people have historically had it tough. We have been invaded over the centuries by the Vikings and the Normans etc. The worst came when we were invaded by the English. This British rule lasted for hundreds of years and many Irish lived in terrible poverty. We were no longer allowed to speak Irish, practice our culture or play Irish games or music. Catholics were forbidden to practice religion or own businesses or land. Many Irish people died or emigrated, or were sent as prisoners to Australia. Families lost fathers and farms leaving them with no source of income. Disaster struck when the potato blight hit Ireland when the crop failed and the country starved. The Irish only ate potatoes as they provided full nutrition and sold other crops in order to pay rent to the British landlords. The blight caused a famine which killed one million people while a further million people emigrated. The population of Ireland still hasn't recovered from this.

The ordinary Irish people continued to live in poverty into the 20th century. The Lock-Out of 1913 caused further poverty. The Roman Catholic Church abused and took advantage of vulnerable people all throughout the 20th century and beyond.

Ireland has since vastly improved, though these issues are still fairly abundant here. In the 1930s in Ireland, things were quite bleak. However, many sources have said that the events in this book should be taken with a pinch of salt as neighbours of the McCourt family said that things have been exaggerated. In fairness this is understandable as it is from the point of view of a child. We also have a bit of a reputation here amongst ourselves of complaining but not doing anything about things so and writing sad songs and stories.

Of course this isn't true for every Irish person and we're known for having good craic but hope this helps to understand the situation.


message 3: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy I just want to clarify that we as a nation hold no animosity towards English, Americans or anyone mentioned in my above post and we are generally friends and relations of people of many nationalities. We have just had an unfortunate history.


message 4: by Kitty (new) - added it

Kitty Joy, I appreciate that you included a condensed version of Irish history. As an American of Irish descent I am just now learning about the more complex aspects of the generic ‘Irish’ label. My scholarly endeavors have taken me into the political, economic, religious and social / class components of the lives of native Irish from the 1600s through today; my personal background and interests have expanded the study to include native Irish immigrants to America.
Your comment that “neighbours of the McCourt family said that things have been exaggerated” rings true. My own brother and I wrote independent ‘memoir’ stories about growing up with a disabled mother. The stories could have been written by two complete strangers. As the saying goes, ‘perception is reality;’ my brother and I saw things very differently. But neither of us is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ - our place within the drama shaped our view. For me, memoirs fall into the realm of historical fiction.


message 5: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy Kitty wrote: "Joy, I appreciate that you included a condensed version of Irish history. As an American of Irish descent I am just now learning about the more complex aspects of the generic ‘Irish’ label. My scho..."

It may also interest you Kitty, that many American English words are thought to be derived from the Irish language due to the large numbers of Irish people who moved to New York, in particular. An article by Brendan Patrick Keane shows some examples: http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/o... .
It's really interesting to see how the language evolved with English so differently into Hiberno-English and American-English.


message 6: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom If I recall correctly, the Irish Free State had come into existence not all that long (10-15 years maybe) before the memoir starts. A little before that, Northern Ireland/Ulster elected to continue being part of the UK. So that may be in part why Malachy McCourt (Frank's dad) is perceived to have the odd manner, being from the predominantly Protestant north.


Cynthia Joy wrote: "Irish people have historically had it tough. We have been invaded over the centuries by the Vikings and the Normans etc. The worst came when we were invaded by the English. This British rule lasted..."
This was very interesting. I read the book a few years ago and saw the movie this year. I haven't read much about the history of Ireland but I think I shall.


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