Barrytown Irish: Location, Language, and Class in Roddy Doyle’s Early Novels

  • Mary M. McGlynn
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


When Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes was to be made into a film in 1998, the crew went to Limerick in search of his evocatively described World War II-era slums in the dirty lanes. As the story goes, they found instead a local economy in the midst of Celtic Tiger growth that had long since eliminated the health hazards of open group lavatories and damp, unheated homes. The crew was therefore obliged to build its own filthy set, which McCourt, on a walk through it with 60 Minutes reporter Ed Bradley, pronounced a perfect replica. The simulacrum is ironic given that controversy surrounded Angela’s Ashes in Ireland because of its claims to authenticity. The power of McCourt’s memoir for economically stable readers resides in part in its realism; its depiction of poverty by a narrator who has escaped destitution conforms to narrative expectations of the triumph over adversity, “an endorsement of bootstrap capitalism” (Whelan 194). The construction of a hyper-squalid hovel for the film is suggestive of the artistic choices underlying memoir’s claims to mimesis.


Irish Society Irish Family Irish Economy Narrative Voice Irish Identity 
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© Mary M. McGlynn 2008

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  • Mary M. McGlynn

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