FREDONIA - Acclaimed author, actor and activist Malachy McCourt will appear in a special evening of Irish jokes, stories, song and dance at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House on Friday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m.
The event will be hosted by Fredonia's own Irish storyteller Doug Manly and also will feature a performance by dancers from Clann Na Cara Irish Dance.
Throughout his rollicking life, McCourt has held a multitude of careers, from dishwasher, longshoreman and pub keeper to actor, writer, radio and TV host, and candidate for governor.
McCourt was born in Brooklyn, and from the age of 3 was raised in Limerick, Ireland. A very undistinguished academic career, combined with the need to eat, led him to leave school at the age of 13 to begin work in Ireland and England as a laborer. He returned to the land of his birth at age 20 and again worked at manual tasks such as longshoreman, truck loader and dishwasher. The story of his and his siblings' impoverished childhood and early adulthood became the basis for his late brother Frank's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Angela's Ashes."
Eventually, Malachy became an actor. That career took him to Broadway and off-Broadway and to regional theatres in plays such as "Mass Appeal," "Da," "The Hostage," "Inherit the Wind," "Carousel" and "Translations." Soap operas such as "Ryan's Hope," "Search for Tomorrow," "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" also were a good source of work and sustenance, as were the movies "The Molly Maguires," "She's the One," "The Devil's Own," "Green Card," and TV movies such as "You Can't Go Home Again" and "The Dain Curse."
In the early 1970s, McCourt was one of the first radio talk show hosts on WMCA in New York. He also worked at WOR, WNYC and WABC, and was a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show," "Merv Griffin" and "Tom Snyder" shows.
As well as being co-author of the play "A Couple of Blaguards" with his late brother Frank, McCourt has written his own New York Times best-selling memoir, "A Monk Swimming," an account of his adventures as a young immigrant in the United States in the 1960s. A second memoir, "Singing My Him Song," followed. McCourt's other books include "Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad," "The Claddagh Ring," "Voices of Ireland," and "Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland."
An outspoken activist, McCourt has written his own weekly blog, and ran as the Green Party candidate for governor of New York in 2006.
Joining McCourt will be Opera House favorites, dancers from Clann Na Cara Irish Dance. Clann Na Cara was established as a Western New York Irish dance school in 2006 by four national and world champion medalists. Prior to receiving their dance teacher certifications, all four founders were regular performers at the Opera House during St. Patrick's Day celebration events. In addition, each has led dancers in performances with such notable artists as The Chieftans, Cherish the Ladies and Natalie McMaster. The students at Clann Na Cara range in age from 4 to 21 and include numerous national champions.
Manly will emcee the event and regale the audience with his own Irish jokes and humorous stories. Manly is the former CEO of RHM Grocery Products, which owned Red Wing and three other food processing companies. A resident of Fredonia for more than 50 years, he became interested in doing stand-up comedy for retirement communities six years ago and has served as emcee of storytelling events at the Opera House for the past several years.
Tickets to An Evening with Malachy McCourt are $15 for the general public and $13 for Opera House members, and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online any time at www.fredopera.org.