Raising a socially distant ‘virtual jar’ to Frank McCourt this St. Patrick’s Day!

Frank McCourt holding ‘court’ in Mulligans. Photo: Bill Young

Regular readers of Tellyspotting may recognize this annual post from St. Patrick’s Day in years past. I thought it was worth repeating another year as not only is it hard to let St. Paddy’s Day pass without thinking of Frank, the fact that most of us will be spending tonight at home made me think of Frank all the more. So bear with me today as this day just isn’t the same without Frank. If you are new to us since last year, I hope you enjoy. As you read this, raise a virtual ‘jar’ or two of Guinness to Frank McCourt. 

Approximately 15 years ago, we had an incredible opportunity to spend several weeks ‘working’ in Dublin with Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela’s Ashes, Teacher Man and ‘Tis. Frank made his television hosting debut hosting the PBS special, Historic Pubs of Dublin, which was broadcast in March 2008 on PBS.

As host, Frank took us and viewers on a tour of Dublin telling it’s history through the pubs of Dublin, including the Brazen Head (oldest pub in Ireland), Kavanaghs (8th generation owned and known as the Gravediggers), O’Donoghues (a favorite of The Dubliners since the early 60’s), Mulligans (where the perfect pint is poured), McDaids (a former city morgue), Kehoes, Doheny & Nesbitt (with its incredible snugs), Neary’s (adjacent to the back door of the Gaiety Theatre) and Toners (killer heated beer garden), with stops along the way at the Guinness Brewery, Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle, Dublin Writer’s Museum, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ’s Church and his old University stomping grounds of Trinity College, including the most visually stunning library room I’ve ever seen, the Long Room.

The highlight of our time there were the down times where we were able to get to know Frank as well as you can know someone in two weeks as we hung on every word during our time in Dublin. It was a very special two weeks for all of us as, many times, we all felt like we were eavesdropping on Frank’s Trinity College days as he returned to Dublin, pointing out his seat in every pub where he and his writer friends would talk for hours.

To hear his comments on the likes of Brendan Behan (a drinker with a writing problem), James Joyce and Oscar Wilde were priceless. It was also very special for us and, I’m sure for Frank, to see locals recognize him as we walked down Grafton Street just wanting to shake his hand and say hello.

A St. Patrick’s Day toast

St. Patrick’s Day and every day, for that matter, will never be the same without Frank since he passed away in July of 2009 at the all too young age of 78, but I’m so very thankful for those very special two weeks in Dublin back in 2007. Several times, Frank would raise a glass at the conclusion of 12+ hour shooting days and offer a traditional Irish toast. I know he wouldn’t mind me repeating one of them in his absence this St. Patrick’s Day as we raise a pint glass in Frank’s direction.

Frank McCourt taping Historic Pubs of Dublin at the Guinness Brewery

“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

In: Odds & Sods