Quotes by Frank McCourt

I'm a late bloomer.
- Frank McCourt
I hated school in Ireland.
- Frank McCourt
My sister died in Brooklyn.
- Frank McCourt
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People want real-life stories.
- Frank McCourt
I never really fit in anywhere.
- Frank McCourt
Scatter my ashes on the Shannon.
- Frank McCourt
I can do no more than tell the truth.
- Frank McCourt
I don't know anything about a stock!
- Frank McCourt
I knew I had to find my own way of teaching.
- Frank McCourt
Happiness is hard to recall. Its just a glow.
- Frank McCourt
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The happy childhood is hardly worth your while.
- Frank McCourt
When I came to America, I dreamed bigger dreams.
- Frank McCourt
I was ashamed of it, of the poverty I came from.
- Frank McCourt
The uncluttered life is the key to a good memory.
- Frank McCourt
One day a week should be set aside for field trips.
- Frank McCourt
There's so much absurdity. Poverty is so absurd.
- Frank McCourt
At 66, you're supposed to die or get hemorrhoids.
- Frank McCourt
If I have a cause, it's the cause of the teacher.
- Frank McCourt
I've been writing in notebooks for 40 years or so.
- Frank McCourt
I'm more interested in writing than in performing.
- Frank McCourt
I learned the significance of my own insignificant life.
- Frank McCourt
Ireland, once you live there, you're seduced by it.
- Frank McCourt
Teachers have a million stories, but nobody consults them.
- Frank McCourt
I think I settled on the title before I ever wrote the book.
- Frank McCourt
I had never attended high school, but I was fairly well read.
- Frank McCourt
I think there are two cities in the world - New York and Rome.
- Frank McCourt
In public schools, classes are bloated - it's ridiculous.
- Frank McCourt
The day I write my last word will be the day that I feel free.
- Frank McCourt
The sky is the limit. You never have the same experience twice.
- Frank McCourt
The main thing I am interested in is my experience as a teacher.
- Frank McCourt
When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I survived at all.
- Frank McCourt
People come up to me and talk about the alcoholism in their family.
- Frank McCourt
I thought everything would be different in America. It wasn't.
- Frank McCourt
Every life is a mystery. There is nobody whose life is normal and boring.
- Frank McCourt
That's what kept us going - a sense of absurdity, rather than humor.
- Frank McCourt
I don't see myself as either Irish or American, I'm a New Yorker.
- Frank McCourt
My dream was to have a Library of Congress catalogue number, that's all.
- Frank McCourt
St. Patrick, bringing the religion to Ireland, this is what we should celebrate.
- Frank McCourt
I didn't know you could write about yourself. Nobody ever told me about this.
- Frank McCourt
A funeral was a great form of entertainment. A wake was a great form of entertainment.
- Frank McCourt
When I was a kid, I was a pretty good runner, and there was nothing like winning a race.
- Frank McCourt
People who think I have insulted Ireland or Limerick or my family have not read the book!
- Frank McCourt
I loved reading and writing, and teaching was the most exalted profession I could imagine.
- Frank McCourt
Everyone has a story to tell. All you have to do is write it. But it's not that easy.
- Frank McCourt
I can't go too much into my domestic life because there are ex-wives ready to do me in.
- Frank McCourt
My mother had had six children in five and a half years, and three of them died in that time.
- Frank McCourt
We've had enough of the generals and movie stars. We want to hear about the ordinary people.
- Frank McCourt
We never really had any kind of a Christmas. This is one part where my memory fails me completely.
- Frank McCourt
I didn't have to struggle at all to get an agent and a publisher. Everything fell into my lap.
- Frank McCourt
You feel a sense of urgency, especially at my advanced age, when you're staring into the grave.
- Frank McCourt
My father and mother should have stayed in New York, where they met and married and where I was born.
- Frank McCourt
I think there's something about the Irish experience - that we had to have a sense of humor or die.
- Frank McCourt
I just have to proceed as usual. No matter what happens, nothing helps with the writing of the next book.
- Frank McCourt
They tell me I'm on 'Politically Incorrect' with Ollie North. That should be a lot of fun.
- Frank McCourt
I've had experiences on both sides of the ocean and various classrooms and bedrooms around New York.
- Frank McCourt
My childhood here... was very limited. So it was a long, long time before I actually went out to Brooklyn.
- Frank McCourt
If ever you are to be visited by the Holy Ghost, you should make certain you're sitting beside a fireman.
- Frank McCourt
Something happened when the memoirs of so-called ordinary people, like myself, suddenly hit the bestseller list.
- Frank McCourt
Just luxuriate in a certain memory, and the details will come. It's like a magnet attracting steel filings.
- Frank McCourt
When I read about Joyce, I realised that there was no eight-till-one in his life: it was 24 hours a day for him.
- Frank McCourt
The part of Limerick we lived in is Georgian, you know, those Georgian houses. You see them in pictures of Dublin.
- Frank McCourt
Kids all want to look cool, as if knowledge is a great burden, but they're always looking around. They remember.
- Frank McCourt
We were below welfare. We begged from people on welfare. My father tried to repair our shoes with pieces of bicycle tires.
- Frank McCourt
There were a number of houses. When we first arrived in Limerick, it was a one-room affair with most of it taken up with a bed.
- Frank McCourt
I certainly couldn't have written 'Angela's Ashes' when my mother was alive, because she would have been ashamed.
- Frank McCourt
Worse than the ordinary, miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
- Frank McCourt
I just wrote the book and was amazed and astounded that it became a bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize. It still hasn't sunk in.
- Frank McCourt
You don't have to go fight bulls in Spain like Hemingway to write something great, or go off to war. It's right under your nose.
- Frank McCourt
I couldn't even pick up the newspaper without saying, 'This is a fine piece of writing. I wish to hell I could write like this.'
- Frank McCourt
I had moments with my father that were exquisite - the stories he told me about Cuchulain, the mythological Irish warrior, are still magical to me.
- Frank McCourt
I never expected to write a book about a slum in Ireland that was going to catapult me, as they say, into some kind of - onto the best seller list.
- Frank McCourt
We had nothing, no television, no radio, nothing to get in the way. We read by the streetlight at the top of the lane, and we acted out the stories.
- Frank McCourt
Way back in my mid-20s, I started making notes. I would just jot things down: lists of street names, songs, peculiar turns of speech, jokes, whatever.
- Frank McCourt
Mam was always saying we had a simple diet: tea and bread, bread and tea, a liquid and a solid, a balanced diet - what more do you need? Nobody got fat.
- Frank McCourt
I was just dreaming, and if, if I'd written the book and nobody wanted it, I would have put it in the drawer and said, 'Well, I did that.'
- Frank McCourt
Actually, my mother and Alfie came for three weeks' Christmas vacation and stayed for 21 years. I guess my mother never went back because she was lonely.
- Frank McCourt
You look at passers-by in Rome and think, 'Do they know what they have here?' You can say the same about Philadelphia. Do people know what went on here?
- Frank McCourt
I was a houseman, the lowest. I was just above - in the hierarchy of jobs, I was just above the Puerto Rican dishwashers - just above, so I felt superior to them.
- Frank McCourt
Some, like Mother Teresa, are born with a gene to help the poor, and some are born with a gene to write. I was born with a gene to tell my story, and I just had to.
- Frank McCourt
They all went into the bar business. Which was a mistake, because they began to sip at the merchandise and it set them back, set us all back. Well, them more than I.
- Frank McCourt
I couldn't fit in the Irish community in New York. I was never one of the boys because they would talk about baseball or basketball, and I knew nothing about it.
- Frank McCourt
When I got out of the army, I had the G.I. Bill. Since I had no high school education or anything like that, I came to NYU, and they took a chance on me and let me in.
- Frank McCourt
It gives me a very keen satisfaction that, after listening to my blather all those years, former students are now seeing that I wrote a book, that I did have it in me.
- Frank McCourt
And, of course, they've always condemned dancing. You know, you might touch a member of the opposite sex. And you might get excited and you might do something natural.
- Frank McCourt
O'Casey was writing about people in the streets and his mother and dying babies and poverty. So that astounded me because I thought you could only write about English matters.
- Frank McCourt
I had to get rid of any idea of hell or any idea of the afterlife. That's what held me, kept me down. So now I just have nothing but contempt for the institution of the church.
- Frank McCourt
I was unloading sides of beef down on the docks when I decided enough was enough. By then, I'd done a lot of reading on my own, so I persuaded New York University to enroll me.
- Frank McCourt
On the last day of my teaching career, I was sitting in my apartment, having a glass of wine, thinking I'm glad I did it, that I had been somehow useful, that I had learned something.
- Frank McCourt
There's nothing in the world like getting up in front of a high-school classroom in New York City. They won't give you a break if you don't hold them. There's no escape.
- Frank McCourt
I'm not one of those James Joyce intellectuals who can stand back and look at the whole edifice... It was a slow process for me to just crawl out of it, like a snake leaving his skin behind.
- Frank McCourt
We don't look at teachers as scholars the way they do in Europe. In Spain you're called a professor if you're a high school teacher, and they pay teachers - they pay teachers in Europe.
- Frank McCourt
For some reason, I had a responsibility to my family and the people who lived around me. I felt that I had to convey their dignity - the way they dealt with adversity and poverty - and their good humor.
- Frank McCourt
I would dream of going up to the 'New York Times' and asking them if I could please be a copy boy or let me scrub the toilets or something like that. But I couldn't rise to those heights.
- Frank McCourt
I admire certain priests and nuns who go off on their own and do God's work on their own, who help in the ghettos, but as far as the institution of the church is concerned, I think it is despicable.
- Frank McCourt
Even when I went to the Lion's Head in the Village, where all you journalists would hang out, I was always peripheral. I was never really part of anything except the classroom. That's where I belonged.
- Frank McCourt
It's like a series of waves hitting you. First, getting excerpted in the 'New Yorker' last summer, then getting published, then the best-seller list, the award, the movie deal, now this, a Pulitzer.
- Frank McCourt
I'm always a great student of writers' work habits. Balzac sat at his desk dressed in a monk's robe, and he always had to have a rotten apple on his desk. The smell of the apple inspired him somehow.
- Frank McCourt
You're beginning to hear the tale of the common man and woman rather than the traditional memoir about the generals who just finished the war or the politicians who just rendered glorious service to the country.
- Frank McCourt
When I first went up to see my editor, I was with my agent, and my editor said, 'Well, what have you been doing all these years?' And my agent said, 'He's been in recovery. From his childhood.'
- Frank McCourt
He came to the States in 1963, I think with a view to making up with my mother, but that didn't work. He came for three weeks, and drank his way all over Brooklyn. And went back... I went to his funeral in Belfast.
- Frank McCourt
We were supposed to stay over in Boston, but when Scribners heard I'd won the Pulitzer, they told me to get on a plane - that Katie Couric wanted my body. And when Katie Couric wants your body, you get moving right away.
- Frank McCourt
For some reason, I wrote about the bed we slept in when I was a kid. It was a half-acre of misery, that bed, sagging in the middle, red hair sticking out of the mattress, the spring gone and the fleas leaping all over the place.
- Frank McCourt
When I was a teacher, I'd walk into the classroom. I stood at the board. I was the man. I directed operations. I was an intellectual and artistic and moral traffic cop, and I - and I would direct the class, most of the time.
- Frank McCourt
Autobiography should be more stringent. It should adhere more to the standards of journalism - assuming that journalism has the truth. The memoir gives you more scope, is more poetic, and allows you to play around with your own life.
- Frank McCourt
If you have a class of 35 children, and they're all smiling, and there's one little bastard, and he's just staring at you as if to say 'Show me', then he's the one you think about going home on the train.
- Frank McCourt
I wanted to avoid all that literary stuff. I didn't want the self pity of 'The Portrait,' all the moaning and the whingeing. I'm not knocking Joyce: we all owe him a debt. He's the one who made so much possible.
- Frank McCourt
Certain citizens claimed I had disgraced the fair name of the city of Limerick, that I had attacked the church, that I had despoiled my mother's name, and that if I returned to Limerick, I would surely be found hanging from a lamppost.
- Frank McCourt