An Irish Translation for “Angela’s Ashes”

Frank McCourt’s 1996 memoir Angela’s Ashes chronicled his childhood growing up dirt-poor and hungry in Limerick, Ireland. In writing it, McCourt tried to capture Limerick as he experienced it- the good, the bad and the ugly (and there was an awful lot of ugly).

The book was a hit with both critics and consumers, winning a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award among others.  It was less of a hit in McCourt’s birthplace of Limerick, however, as some residents were unhappy with the way their fair city was portrayed in the novel. Here’s how the Globe described it at the time:

“It wouldn’t be Irish if there wasn’t a split, and the split here is between those who see “Angela’s Ashes” as an exaggerated, mean-spirited attack on the city and its people, and those who embrace the book’s art, humanity, and the attention, whether good or bad, it has brought Limerick.”

Angela’s Ashes was translated into 25 different languages, but when Mr. McCourt died of cancer in 2009, Irish still wasn’t one of them-until now. Luaithreach Angela, an Irish translation of the memoir created by Irish actor and writer Padraic Breathnach, was made available in Ireland on October 10.  A US release is set to follow next month.

Editor Dominic Taylor explained how the project got started on

“The publication in the Irish language is a tribute to Frank McCourt’s Irish roots. On the occasion of Frank’s untimely passing in 2009, the Limerick Writers’ Centre made a decision to honor our famous author in a significant way and after much deliberation we decided that it would be appropriate for us to publish an Irish edition of Angela’s Ashes, the book that put Limerick on the literary map.”

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