‘It breaks my heart’ to have to close Frank McCourt museum

A museum dedicated to the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, housed in his former school in the heart of Limerick city, is set to close next month.

‘It breaks my heart’ to have to close Frank McCourt museum

A museum dedicated to the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, housed in his former school in the heart of Limerick city, is set to close next month.

The Frank McCourt Museum, based at the former Leamy School on Hartstonge St, will host its last public event tomorrow before it shuts its doors permanently in October.

The independently owned museum, where some of the author’s ashes have been placed overlooking his former classroom, has never received regular funding, according to Una Heaton, the museum’s curator and founder.

“I’ve been running the museum for years through my sheer love of Frank but I can’t sustain it any more without help from anyone. I can’t take it, it breaks my heart, but I had to make the decision,” said Ms Heaton. “It was a very hard decision to make and to tell my staff.”

The museum is within close walking distance of the home where McCourt spent his “miserable Irish Catholic childhood”, as detailed in his memoir, Angela’s Ashes.

Ms Heaton, who became friends with McCourt after they were introduced by the late Limerick TD Jim Kemmy, said she is at a loss as to why the museum was never granted core funding.

“Frank sold millions of copies of his book, he won the Pulitzer Prize, and it was translated into 48 languages,” she said. “I sometimes wonder if it is because people are jealous of his success. We’ve had visitors from New Zealand, Japan, Israel, every part of the world, who have journeyed to Limerick like a pilgrimage.

“We’ve had good help from his widow, Ellen, who has always been 110% behind us.”

A spokesman for Limerick City and County Council said it has worked with the museum to support events when opportunities arose. This includes a recent contribution towards an event as part of an upcoming festival. There are a number of funding schemes open to cultural organisations.

“These are competitive open calls, which are independently judged,” said the spokesman.

McCourt will always have a presence in Limerick, added the spokesman.

“His papers have been donated to the Special Collection in the University of Limerick Glucksman Library and the position of Chair of Creative Writing at the university also commemorates his name and achievements and association with Limerick,” he said.

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