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Works by
Malachy McCourt

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Profile created November 16, 2006
  • The Brendan Voyage (1978)
    Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He found a centuries-old, family-run tannery to prepare the ox hides in the medieval way; he undertook an exhaustive search for skilled harness makers (the only people who would know how to stitch the three-quarter-inch-thick hides together); he located one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber tall enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness were truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he and his crew repaired a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--their heads sometimes submerged under the freezing waves--to restitch the leather. A modern classic in the tradition of Kon-Tiki, The Brendan Voyage seamlessly blends high adventure and historical relevance. It has been translated into twenty-seven languages since its original publication in 1978.

  • A Monk Swimming (1998)
    In 1952, traveling steerage, Malachy McCourt left a childhood of poverty in Limerick, Ireland, heading for the promise of America. This is the story of what he brought with him, and what he thought he left behind.

    Armed with savage humor and a gift for story-telling, fueled by rage and the desire never to go hungry again, he ran from memories of a drunken, vanished father and the humiliations of Angela, his mother.

    He arrived in New York, reminiscent of a Damon Runyon saga - a dark, glittering place, with saloons on every corner, and a new story waiting every night. Larger than life, a world-class drinker, McCourt carved out a place for himself: in the saloons, as the first celebrity bartender, mixing with socialites, writers and movie stars; on stage, performing the works of James Joyce and Brendan Behan; and on television, where the tales he spun made him a Tonight Show regular.

    He had money and women and, eventually, children of his own; and that’s when he found he had not left his memories as far behind as he had thought. From the notorious Tombs prison of New York City, to poolside arrests in Beverly Hills; in the company of gold-smuggling in Zurich and whores in Calcutta; from Paris, to Rome, and to Limerick once more, McCourt fled again, until he had no choice but to stop and turn and face his past.

  • Through Irish Eyes: A Visual Companion to Angela McCourt's Ireland (1998)

  • Singing My Him Song (2000)
    In Singing My Him Song, McCourt tells us how he went from living the headlong and heedless life of a world-class drunk to becoming a sober, loving father and grandfather, still happily married after thirty-five years. We meet the woman who stood by his side all those years, watch as they build a family together, and listen as McCourt pursues a career of surprising successes and comic missteps.

    But while becoming the host of television and radio talk shows, appearing in dozens of movies and plays, and establishing himself as a well-loved regular on Ryan's Hope and One Life to Live, McCourt must also face the wreckage of his past. McCourt fights for the rights of his handicapped stepdaughter, exposing a scandal that still reverberates; helps steer his children away from the path he took; and finally comes to terms with the people and places that sent him careering along his misguided course. Then, just when it's time for the happy ending, he must gather all that he's learned, and the support of everyone he loves, to face and overcome the threat of cancer.

    Bawdy and funny, naked and moving, told in the same inimitable voice that left readers all over the world wondering what happened next, Malachy McCourt's Singing My Him Song tells as honest and entertaining a story as anyone could hope for.

  • Danny Boy: The Beloved Irish Ballad (2001)
    Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes, are calling
    From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
    The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
    ''Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
    But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
    Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
    "Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
    Oh Danny Boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

    Everyone can hum this haunting Irish ballad that inevitably brings a tear to the eye. For all its popularity, the most requested "Irish" song and its origins still remain an enigma. Is it even Irish? Did the song initially grace the Irish countryside as the winsome ballad of an itinerant piper, or did it first take form as a blind musician's bow danced across the strings of a fiddle? Travel with Malachy on his journey for the truth as he interviews musicologists, historians, academics, celebrities, and Irish icons. Join the expedition and trace the complex evolution and enduring mystique of "Danny Boy" in an unforgettable tribute that brilliantly weaves history with folklore.

  • Voices of Ireland: Classic Writings of a Rich and Rare Land (2002)
    The serene landscapes and the turbulent history of Ireland have inspired the greatest writers in the modern literary canon. Recorded in the brilliant journalism of James Stephens and others, Ireland's struggle to go from a province to a full-fledged nation also echoes in the work of poets and playwrights such as J.M. Synge, James Joyce and William Butler Yeats. The literature conveys the beauty of the green-reached hills, the "brown imperturbable faces" of the houses in Joyce's Dublin, the barren thorns of a winter's night.

    Thanks to the genius of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, and other visionaries, millions of readers can enter a world where the mythical struggles of saints, leprechauns and Cu Chulainn find echoes in the modern strife of revolution and the war for independence. From the Rebellion of 1798 to the potato famine, from the exodus of many families out of Ireland to the Easter Rebellion and the war for independence, the greatness of Ireland filters through the prism of literary genius. Inspired by the love of their land, these writers rebelled against the icons of social, political and cultural conformity. Equally in love with the landscapes and the spirited people, they wrote literature that resounds throughout Ireland and the world.

    Here for the first time, these 12 works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction are collected in a single volume that recognizes their enormous literary contribution. Award-winning and New York Times best-selling author Malachy McCourt provides an incisive introduction, drawing on his vast knowledge of and love for the literature of Ireland.

  • The Claddagh Ring: Ireland's Cherished Symbol Of Friendship, Loyalty And Love (2003)
    Friendship. Loyalty. Love. The Claddagh Ring is an eternal symbol of all three. Though the recognizable Irish emblem of two hands reaching for each other around a heart and topped with a crown is ubiquitous among many cultures, there has never been a comprehensive account of the origins, history, and meaning of the Claddagh Ring until now.

    Following the success of his recent Running Press titles Danny Boy and Voices of Ireland, McCourt tells the story of this beloved Irish symbol through vivid anecdotes, charming folk tales, and recent incidents. The Claddagh Ring is said to have been conceived by Irish native Richard Joyce after being captured by Algerian pirates and the need for faith and endurance was foremost in his mind. This is much more to the ring's tale than simple popular history, and McCourt, with his vast knowledge of Ireland, is just the person to track it down and recount it with his stellar storytelling finesse.

  • Up Your Sobriety (2003)
    There is hardly ever a smile when the word sobriety is mentioned in polite society--even less so in impolite society. But mention tipsy, merry, snookered or any of the hundred or more synonyms for drunk, and eyes light up and those with teeth flash them in wide grins. This is due to the fact that sobriety is often confused with the solemn and sacred and sacerdotal, even with sadness--and consequently the exhilarating, joyous uplift of the non-drunken state is lost. Nearly 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic, and several million more engage in binge or heavy drinking on a regular basis. The consequences of alcohol misuse are devastating: in purely economic terms, alcohol-related problems cost society approximately $185 billion per year; in human terms, the costs cannot be calculated. Malachy McCourt, bard extraordinaire and bestselling author of A Monk Swimming, Singing My Him Song and Danny Boy, is a recovering alcoholic. In Up Your Sobriety!, Malachy will take you on a journey with unforgettable sights and emotions, where the spiritual updrafts cannot be resisted. All aboard for a high-flying ride spirited with color and comedy, where no blackouts occur and the word "sobriety" is given proper due in a joyous firmament.

  • Bush Lies In State (2004)
    Being the decent man he is, Malachy McCourt has written a compassionate (but devilishly funny) book about George "Wanker" Bush and his practically unnoticed (but major failing) as president — Bush is an alcoholic. Bush Lies in State is a collection of 24 essays and performance pieces finely tooled to cleanse and disinfect the government by exposing the lies, violence, and hypocrisy of our current, soon-to-be-ex-President, "Blinky bin Bush" and his "Texiban." Malachy McCourt’s distinctive voice rings throughout. As an often-published expert on the subjects of alcoholism and recovery (as well as politics), Malachy has no trouble identifying George W. Bush as a "dry drunk," someone who no longer takes alcohol, but retains all the worst behaviors of the full-blown alky. Worse yet, the disease seems to be contagious, with our whole country now behaving like a dry drunk! The only cure is regime change in 2004.

  • Harold Be Thy Name: Lighthearted Daily Reflections for People in Recovery (2004)
    JUST SUPPOSE that you found out that this day would be your last day alive on this earth, that you would die before midnight. Some of us would panic, screaming “NO! NO! NO!” Others would complain, “Why me?” Still others would travel as far away as possible, hoping that geographical distance would alter Death’s mind, and another group might say, “Let me get ready, then, as there are some items I must take care of, and some arrangements to be made.” One nice thing about dying nowadays is you don’t have to pack material supplies, like deodorants, toothpaste, aspirin, bathing suit, hairbrush, underwear, or outerwear—not a bloody thing. All you have to do is sit, and perhaps gather the family and friends for a farewell chat. Of course, before we do that, we ought to ring up or otherwise contact the various people we have slighted or injured in our lives and see if we can’t make amends. Cleaning things up in this way does not mean seeking or expecting forgiveness, for sometimes injured parties will find that impossible to grant. But if you tell them you are about to die, you might elicit a “Bon voyage” at least. Your last day ought to be one of story, song, reminiscences, and loving embraces all round.

  • Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland (2004)
    In this lively, engaging chronicle, best-selling author and storyteller Malachy McCourt delivers his own unique perspective on Irish history. As entertaining as he is informative, McCourt presents the sinners and saints of his homeland in an effort to understand Ireland through centuries of invasion, oppression and suffering.

    Here is a sweeping account of the Irish, from the age of the Tuatha de Danann to the Viking Invasion, through An Gorta Mór (the Great Famine) to the British Occupation, to the modern strife and struggle for independence - with startling insights into how the Irish national character took shape. McCourt shows how scandals undermine the efforts of honest leaders on all sides, and how resentment grew so deeply entrenched. He explores the controversial relationship between Charles Parnell and Kitty O'Shea, and its actual role in the nationalist hero's downfall. He takes you into the private lives of Daniel O'Connell, Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams, and other players in the drama and tragedy - and he makes you understand the milieu that produced them.

    Ireland has made a contribution to literature, diplomacy, and popular music not remotely matched by countries many times Ireland's size. In this volume, McCourt unveils a new take on the fiction, poetry, drama and music that are Ireland's best-known export. Here are James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and Bono as you have never seen or understood them before. Readers of this unparalleled history of the Emerald Isle will come back to where they are and get to know the place for the first time.

  • A Couple of Blaguards co-authored with his brother Frank McCourt.

See also:

  • The Irish In America: A History (1997)
    An audio history with commentary by Colm Meaney (Narrator), Dennis Duggan, Malachy McCourt, Michael Coffey (Narrator), Patty Disney, Peggy Noonan, Pete Hamill, Roy Disney, and Terry Golway (Narrator).

    The Irish in America (1997) by Michael Coffey (Companion to the audio)
    On the 150th anniversary of the Irish famine which sparked the wave of emigration that forever shaped the course of the American nation, The Irish In America celebrates the comprehensive and vibrant history. Through illuminating essays and contributions from noted Irish American personalities, the audio book paints a vivid picture of the Irish experience in the United States.

    This history is told through selections whose themes are taken from the most important institutions of Irish life: the Parish, the Precinct, the Work, the Players and the Family. The Irish identity in America is captured through the personal stories of families workers local churches. entertainers, and many others, culminating in an unusually moving and modulated social, cultural, and political history of Irish Americans.

  • Dubliners (2000) by James Joyce
    Joyce's classic has been recorded before, of course, but in this new version, each of the 15 stories will be read by a different person, including writers Frank McCourt, Malachy McCourt, and Patrick McCabe, and actors Ciaran Hinds and Colm Meaney.

  • Ireland Ever: The Photographs of Jill Freedman (2004) by Jill Freedman
    In describing his beloved land, the late Irish short story writer Sean O'Faolain wrote: "There is some alchemy of climate in Ireland that bedews the countryside with an unmistakable personality: it is in the softness of color, the mobility of the light, the gentleness with which sound caresses the ear." In this heartwarming photographic portrait, award-winning photographer Jill Freedman captures that softness, mobility, and gentleness in the Irish landscape and in the character of its people.

    With texts by best-selling Irish American authors Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) and Malachy McCourt, Ireland Ever commemorates the traditional life of Ireland in bygone days, just as the modern world began to creep up on it. Freedman celebrates the beauty of the land, the warmth of her people, the simplicity of the old ways, the humor and conviviality, the sharp wit and black moods, and the kindness of the "old country." Beautifully designed and produced, this elegant gift book is a love poem to that wild and passionate beauty that is Ireland ever. AUTHOR BIO: Jill Freedman is a highly respected documentary photographer whose award-winning work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

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