Limerick writer and actor Malachy McCourt dies aged 91

The late Malachy McCourt.

AUTHOR and actor and proud Limerick man, Malachy McCourt has died at the age of 92.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Limerick, Malachy McCourt was a published author in his own right and brother to award-winning scribe Frank McCourt, who wrote Angela’s Ashes, a novel centred around the young pair’s childhood.

Malachy was the last surviving sibling of a family of seven children, the son of Irish parents Angela (née Sheehan) and Malachy McCourt Snr.

After returning to the USA as a young man, Malachy acted on stage, on TV, and in films, including The Molly Maguires, Beyond the Pale, and Ash Wednesday.

He also had an annual festive cameo role as Father Clarence in the series All My Children.

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Like his brother Frank, Malachy took inspiration from his storied childhood in Limerick, penning two memoirs, A Monk Swimming and Singing My Him Song, detailing his family’s time in Limerick and his return to America in 1952 when he was 20.

He was the owner of Malachy’s, a bar on Third Avenue in Manhattan, New York. One of his frequent patrons was actor, friend,  and fellow Limerick man, Richard Harris, who although wildly successful as a film star, worked for a short time behind the bar for McCourt.

An outspoken campaigner for justice and civil rights, Malachy ran for New York Governor in 2006 for the Green Party – losing out to Democratic candidate Eliot Spitzer.

He occasionally appeared on various programs on New York City’s political radio station WBAI. Among the shows on which he has appeared has been Radio Free Éireann.

He was a regular guest artist at Scranton Public Theatre in Scranton, Pennsylvania, having performed in Inherit the Wind, Love Letters, and A Couple of Blaguards, which he co-wrote with brother Frank.

In an interview with The New York Times last year (2023), Malachy said: “Every day I wake up at 91, I am happy without a coffin over my head.”

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I do know from whence I came. I’m a New Yorker, born, half-bred and bred, who outlived my brothers and closest friends.”

He is survived by his wife Diana, who he described as his “great love”, and his children Conor, Siobhan, Malachy, Cormac, and Nina.