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Tasks and Activites

Tasks: Angela's Ashes

These tasks are based on the recording of "From New York to Limerick and Back" and Frank McCourt's autobiographical novel, "Angela's Ashes". The recording contains the author's notes and excerpts from the novel.

Tasks to Part 1:

Comprehension Quiz:


  1. What makes Frank say that "the miserable Irish Catholic childhood" is the worst of all childhoods? Do you agree?
  2. Push and pull factors are often mentioned in context with immigration. Based on the text, what do you think were the McCourts' push factors that eventually led to their departure from Brooklyn and return to Limerick, and what were the pull factors?
  3. Compare the life of the family in Brooklyn with their situation when they returned to Ireland. What do you think made it so difficult to cope in Limerick?


  1. Use the web to trace the background of Frank's father (Malachy McCourt) from County Antrim and Frank's mother from Limerick (her maiden name was Angela Sheehan).
  2. Compare the background information about Frank's parents. How do their backgrounds differ?
  3. Use your findings about Frank's father and his background from the North. What makes him an outsider in the south (the Republic of Ireland)?
  4. Frank's father is obsessed with Irish heroes. Study the text and find information about his heroes. What does this reveal about Irish history?

Tasks to Part 2:

Comprehension Questions:

  1. How does Frank's mother cope with her situation? Take into account her attitude to: a) the church, b) charity organisations
    and c) her husband.
  2. Unable to find work in Limerick, Frank's father decides to go to England to work in the munitinions industry during the war.

    What makes this a hard decision for him and how does he justify it?
  3. Describe the plight of his family while he is England.
  4. What happens to Frank while his father is in England?
  5. How is he able to help out his own family?
  6. What advice does he get from Mr Hannon, his employer?

Tasks Based on the Whole Text

Literary Analysis:

  1. What is the point of view in Angela's Ashes? How does that affect the text? Can we trust the protagonist's judgements?
  2. Analyse how Frank looks upon his parents.


  1. Find information about the political division of Ireland and why the country was divided in 1922.
  2. What is the present situation?
  3. Limerick is not only a place name. What else is it? Explain.

Writing Tasks:

  1. Use impressions from your study of From New York to Limerick and Back as a source of inspiration to compose your own limerick.
  2. Based on this text and your knowledge of immigration to the English speaking world, explain the protagonist's contrasting illustrations of Limerick and New York.
  3. Write an article where you discuss problems and opportunities facing poor immigrants living in the USA today.

Related content

Author Frank McCourt was the son of Irish immigrants to the US. In this excerpt he shows how many people saw emigration as their only chance for survival.

CC BY-SAWritten by: Eli M. Huseby.
Last revised date 04/14/2020

Learning content

The Immigrant Experience