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Sunday 27 May 2018

Frank's ashes get fitting welcome

Barry Duggan

The rain fittingly cascaded down over Limerick yesterday as Frank McCourt's ashes finally came home.

As requested by the world-famous writer, his remains will be cast over the Shannon river at Carrigogunnell castle in Limerick today.

His three brothers, Malachy (78), Michael (74) and Alphie (69), and widow Ellen were back in Limerick last night for the unveiling of a bronze bust in memory of Frank at his old national school.

Some of McCourt's ashes are to be left at the old Leamy's school building which now houses an art gallery.

Ms McCourt said her late husband and author of Pulitzer Prize winning 'Angela's Ashes' would have "been very amused" by the unveiling of the bust.

"On the other hand, since Frank's profession became teaching, I think he would be quite touched," she said. McCourt (78) died on July 19 last year after he contracted meningitis while receiving treatment for melanoma.

His widow revealed she was battling breast cancer which was diagnosed three weeks after her husband's death.

"It's never a happy circumstance (Frank's death) and in my case it was doubly unhappy. It has been a rather bumpy road these last eight months or so," she said.

This was her first trip back to Limerick without the company of one of the city's most famous sons.

"It's bittersweet, but nice to be here with the three brothers," she said.

Smiling and laughing, Ms McCourt acknowledged the rain in Limerick -- which her late husband famously wrote about -- only returned yesterday.

The McCourts will gather at the ruins of the historic castle in Clarina, Co Limerick, today to cast Frank's ashes to the winds and Shannon river.

Malachy McCourt said his brother liked travelling out to Carrigogunnell along the Shannon estuary. "It overlooks the Shannon, there is a wonderful wind there and it is very scenic so we are going to throw him to the winds," he said.

When interviewed before his death, McCourt remarked that when he died he wanted his ashes to "pollute the river".

The bust was commissioned by Limerick-artist Una Heaton and was made by Clare-sculptor Seamus Connolly.

Irish Independent

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