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.
Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, USA and from the age of three was raised in Limerick, Ireland. A very undistinguished academic career plus the need to eat led him to leave school at the age of thirteen to begin work in Ireland and England as a laborer.
He returned to the land of his birth at the age of twenty and again worked at the manual tasks such as longshoreman, truck loader, dishwasher, until he became an actor. That career took him to Broadway and Off-Broadway and regional theatres in plays such as Mass Appeal, Da, The Hostage, Inherit the Wind, Carousel and Translations. The soap operas such as Ryan's Hope, Search for Tomorrow, One Life to Live, and All My Children were also a good source of work and sustenance as were the movies Molly Maguires, She's the One, The Devil's Own, Green Card, and TV movies such as You Can't Go Home Again and The Dain Curse. Due to a heavy schedule of writing, book signings and public appearances McCourt had to take a sabbatical from the acting trade but is now back after completing five movies Happy Hour, Guru of Sex, Gods and Generals, and Ash Wednesday plus a running part in the HBO prison series Oz.
In the early seventies he was one of the first radio talk show hosts on WMCA and also worked at WOR, WNYC and WABC. He was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show, Merv Griffin and Tom Snyder shows and most recently he was a guest on Conan O’Brien and the Late, Late Show on CBS.
Malachy McCourt has been the recipient of awards from various organizations such as:
City Club of New York (Gadfly Award), New York Magazine (Best of New York Award), Turning Point Inc. (Humanitarian Award), World of Hibernia (Super Irish Award), Irish America Magazine (Top 100 Irish Award), NYCLU (Florina Lasker Civil Liberties Award).
Malachy has had articles published in many periodicals including New York Newsday, National Geographic, Conscience Magazine and New York Times.
As well as being the co-author of the play A Couple of Blaguards with his brother Frank, Malachy has written his own New York Times bestseller memoir, A Monk Swimming, published by Hyperion Press. His memoir, Singing My Him Song, now out in paperback is published by Harper Collins. Running Press recently published four of Malachy’s books: the history of the song Danny Boy, a history of The Claddagh Ring, Voices of Ireland, an anthology, and Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland. Recent books, Harold Be Thy Name and Bush Lies in State, are published by Welcome Rain. In the works is I Never Drink When I’m Sober for Harper Collins. Malachy writes a column, Sez I to Myself, that appears in the Manhattan Spirit, The Westsider and Our Town in NYC. (Read his latest article).
Malachy McCourt is happily married to Diana for almost four decades, has five grown children and is grandfather to four. He owes a great deal to his friend Bill W.
No doubt many people will enjoy A Monk Swimming for what it is, the freewheeling anecdotes and memories of a charming rascal. ~Frank Conroy The New York Times Book Review
...a highly entertaining book with some great moments, and it will certainly be of interest to anyone eager to learn more about the McCourts. ~Barbara Schultz The San Francisco Chronicle
...Malachy is outrageous and comic.... [A]pparently the pitilessness with which he could gaze at his past sent his demons to a place they could no longer torment him. Whereupon peace came and allowed him to write this funny, oddly winning book. ~ Christopher Lehmann-Haupt The New York Times