No one name has been so closely intertwined with Limerick in recent decades as Frank McCourt (1930–2009). His poignant autobiographical novel Angela's Ashes was a surprise publishing sensation in 1996, bringing him fame and honours (including the Pulitzer Prize).
Although he was born in New York City, McCourt's immigrant family returned to Limerick four years later, unable to survive in America. His childhood was filled with the kinds of deprivations that were all too common at the time: his father was a drunk who later vanished, three of his six siblings died in childhood, and at age 13 he dropped out of school to earn money to help his family survive.
At age 19, McCourt returned to New York and later worked for three decades as a high school teacher. Among the subjects he taught was writing. From the 1970s he dabbled in writing and theatre with his brother Malachy. He started Angela's Ashes only after retiring from teaching in 1987. Its early success was thanks to a bevy of enthusiastic critics, but in Limerick the reaction was mixed, with many decrying the negative portrait it painted of the city.
Today McCourt's legacy in Limerick is celebrated. Limerick City's tourist office has information about city sights related to the book, you can join Angela's Ashes walking tours, visit the Frank McCourt Museum and drink in one of the watering holes mentioned in the book, South's.