When AudoFile spoke to Malachy McCourt about his memoirs, we surprised him by asking, “What lessons for the listener are there in your book?”
“Lessons?” he said. “I never thought about it. I was sort of writing for myself. If there ever was an unexamined life, it was mine. I thought it was time to have a look at it. And not to get into any—somebody once said that remorse is the devil’s contrition—so I’m not going to get into any remorse. And it’s also important not to get into any regrets because they’ll only waste your time. They’re only useless baggage anyway.”
“Did you teach yourself anything?” we persisted.
“I suppose,” he began thoughtfully, “if there’s a lesson, it’s that if you live long enough, there’s hope for redemption and recovery, and for a bit of wisdom seeping into your life. I rather like that idea. I didn’t fancy being me. I was always afraid that people would find me out, you see, that I was this guttersnipe from the lanes of Limerick. So I always tried to adopt a devil-may-care insouciance.
“Now I think I’m a very mellow, nice kind of a fellow who has tried to make amends to those he has hurt. Some people don’t accept that. But that’s all right. There’s nothing I can do about that. I’m still very curious. I still read. I’m in love with me wife, I love my children and my grandchildren. Life is rather easy right now. I like it, I love it, in fact. But I wish I didn’t have to go through all the rubbish to get to this point.”
We thought of an apt quote: “You remember what Sophocles said, ‘Wisdom through affliction schooled.’”
“He has a point,” McCourt admitted.
“Maybe he’s Irish,” we speculated.
“Oh,” he replied, “I don’t think the Irish are any more afflicted with wisdom than anybody else.”—Yuri Rasovsky