Frank McCourt, Teacher and writer, Died at 79


Dead, Francis “Frank” McCourt on July 19, 2009 at the age of 79, he was an Irish-American teacher and writer. born in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, on 19 August 1930 to Malachy McCourt, an ex-IRA man from Moneyglass, Antrim (1899–1985), and Irish Catholic mother Angela Sheehan from Limerick (1908–1981).

Frank McCourt lived in New York with his parents and four younger siblings: Malachy, born in 1931; twins Oliver and Eugene, born in 1932; and a younger sister, Margaret, who died just seven weeks after birth, in 1935. In the midst of the Great Depression, the family moved back to Ireland.

Unable to find steady work in Belfast or Dublin and beset by Malachy Senior’s alcoholism, the McCourt family returned to their mother’s native Limerick, where they sank even deeper into poverty.

In October 1949, at the age of 19, McCourt left Ireland, using money he had saved from a post office job. Alternatively, in a TV interview McCourt says that one of the people to whom he delivered telegrams was a female moneylender from whom, after her death, he stole the £55 for the trip.

He took a boat from Cork to New York City. A priest he had met on the ship got him a room to stay in and his job at New York City’s Biltmore Hotel. He earned about $26 a week and sent $10 of it to his mother in Limerick. Brothers Malachy and Michael followed him to New York and so, later, did their mother Angela.

In 1951, McCourt was drafted during the Korean War and sent to Bavaria for two years initially training dogs, then as a clerk.

McCourt was married first, in August 1961 (div. 1979), to Alberta Small, with whom he had a daughter, Margaret. He married a second time in November 1984 (div. 1989) to psychotherapist Cheryl Floyd. He married his third wife, Ellen Frey McCourt, in August 1994, and they lived in New York City and Roxbury, Connecticut.

In October 2009, the New York City Department of Education, along with several partners from the community, founded the Frank McCourt High School of Writing, Journalism, and Literature, a screened-admissions public high school.

The school is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on West 84th Street. The Frank McCourt School is one of four small schools designated to fill the campus of the former Louis D. Brandeis High School. The Frank McCourt High School began classes September 2010.

The first principal of the school is Danielle Salzberg, who previously served as acting principal at Khalil Gibran International Academy and as an assistant principal at Millennium High School in New York. Among the many community partners of the Frank McCourt School are the Columbia Journalism School and Symphony Space.

The tales of his childhood that he had told many times to his classes at school and in the bars of New York soon took shape as the highly acclaimed memoir Angela’s Ashes (1999). Published initially in the United States, it went straight into the bestseller lists and then crossed the Atlantic to take the bookshops by storm in Ireland, in the rest of Europe, and around the world.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen Frey McCourt; his brothers, Malachy, Alphie, and Mike; his daughter Maggie McCourt; and his three grandchildren, Chiara, Frank, and Jack.