“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.”
“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
“The master says it’s a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it’s a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there’s anyone in the world who would like us to live.”
“Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale.”
“I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.”
“Love her as in childhood
Through feeble, old and grey.
For you’ll never miss a mother’s love
Till she’s buried beneath the clay.”
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
“I say, Billy, what’s the use in playing croquet when you’re doomed?
He says, Frankie, what’s the use of not playing croquet when you’re doomed?”
“A mother's love is a blessing
No matter where you roam.
Keep her while you have her,
You'll miss her when she's gone.”
“There’s no use saying anything in the schoolyard because there’s always someone with an answer and there’s nothing you can do but punch them in the nose and if you were to punch everyone who has an answer you’d be punching morning noon and night.”
“I am for who i was in the beginning but now is present and i exist in the future.”
“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
“I know that big people don't like questions from children. They can ask all the questions they like, How's school? Are you a good boy? Did you say your prayers? but if you ask them did they say their prayers you might be hit on the head.”
“You never know when you might come home and find Mam sitting by the fire chatting with a woman and a child, strangers. Always a woman and child. Mam finds them wandering the streets and if they ask, Could you spare a few pennies, miss? her heart breaks. She never has money so she invites them home for tea and a bit of fried bread and if it's a bad night she'll let them sleep by the fire on a pile of rags in the corner. The bread she gives them always means less for us and if we complain she says there are always people worse off and we can surely spare a little from what we have.”
“I asked my dad what afflicted meant and he said 'Sickness son, and things that don't fit.”
“Come here till I comb your hair, said Grandma. Look at that mop, it won't lie down. You didn't get that hair from my side of the family. That's that North of Ireland hair you got from your father. That's the kind of hair you see on Presbyterians. If your mother had married a proper decent Limerickman you wouldn't have this standing up, North of Ireland, Presbyterian hair.”
“If ever you're getting a dog, Francis, make sure it's a Buddhist. Good-natured dogs, the Buddhists. Never, never get a Mahommedan. They'll eat you sleeping. Never a Catholic dog. They'll eat you every day including Fridays.”
“You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas, it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
“When she's not talking to him the house is heavy and cold and we know we're not supposed to talk to him either for fear she'll give us the bitter look. We know Dad has done the bad thing and we know you can make anyone suffer by not talking to him. Even little Michael knows that when Dad does the bad thing you don't talk to him from Friday to Monday and when he tries to lift you to his lap you run to Mam.”
“Women stand with their arms folded chatting. They don't sit because all they do is stay at home, take care of the children, clean the house and cook a bit and the men need the chairs. The men sit because they are worn out from walking to the Labour Exchange every morning to sign for the dole, discussing the world's pro less and wondering what to do with the rest of the day.”
“They hit you if you can’t say your name in Irish, if you can’t say the Hail Mary in Irish, if you can’t ask for the lavatory pass in Irish. It helps to listen to the big boys ahead of you. They can tell you about the master you have now, what he likes and what he hates. One master will hit you if you don’t know that Eamon De Valera is the greatest man that ever lived. Another master will hit you if you don’t know that Michael Collins was the greatest man that ever lived. Mr. Benson hates America and you have to remember to hate America or he’ll hit you. Mr. O’Dea hates England and you have to remember to hate England or he’ll hit you. If you ever say anything good about Oliver Cromwell they’ll all hit you. •”
“There are boys here who have to mend their shoes whatever way they can. There are boys in this class with no shoes at all. It’s not their fault and it’s no shame. Our Lord had no shoes. He died shoeless. Do you see Him hanging on the cross sporting shoes? Do you, boys?”
“The English wouldn't give you the steam of their piss.”
“Then he placed on my tongue the wafer, the body and blood of Jesus. At last, at last. It’s on my tongue. I draw it back. It stuck. I had God glued to the roof of my mouth. I could hear the master’s voice, Don’t let that host touch your teeth for if you bite God in two you’ll roast in hell for eternity. I tried to get God down with my tongue but the priest hissed at me, Stop that clucking and get back to your seat.”
“Clarke, define resplendent. I think it’s shining, sir. Pithy, Clarke, but adequate. McCourt, give us a sentence with pithy. Clarke is pithy but adequate, sir. Adroit, McCourt. You have a mind for the priesthood, my boy, or politics. Think of that.”
“With Angela drawn to the hangdog look and Malachy lonely after three months in jail, there was bound to be a knee-trmbler.
A knee-trmbler is the act itself done up against a wall, man and woman up on their toes, straining so hard their knees tremble with the excitement that's in it.”
“Her mother was a streetwalking flaghopper and her father escaped from a lunatic asylum with bunions on his balls and warts on his wank. There is laughing along the bench and Miss Barry calls to us, I warned ye against the laughing. Mackey, what is it you’re prattling about over there? I said we’d all be better off out in the fresh air on this fine day delivering telegrams, Miss Barry. I’m sure you did, Mackey. Your mouth is a lavatory. Did you hear me? I did, Miss Barry. You have been heard on the stairs, Mackey. Yes, Miss Barry. Shut up, Mackey. I will, Miss Barry. Not another word, Mackey. No, Miss Barry. I said shut up, Mackey. All right, Miss Barry. That’s the end of it, Mackey. Don’t try me. I won’t, Miss Barry. Mother o’ God give me patience. Yes, Miss Barry. Take the last word, Mackey. Take it, take it, take it. I will, Miss Barry.”
“Rest your eyes and then read till they fall out of your head.”
“Anything that grows closely enough to what it loves will eventually share the same roots. We can talk about loss, we can treat it and give it time, but biology still forces us to live according to certain rules: plants that are split down the middle don't heal, they die.”
“Circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.”
“Then what in your opinion is a good story?'
'What it's always been, monkey,' Ganesha said. 'One dhansu conflict. Some chaka-chak song and dance. Grief. Love. Love for the lover, love for the mother. Love for the land. Comedy. Terror. One tremendous villain whom we must love also. All the elements properly balanced and mixed together, item after item, like a perfect meal with a dance of tastes. There you have it.”
“The higher Christian churches--where, if anywhere, I belong--come at God with an unwarranted air of professionalism, with authority and pomp, as though they knew what they were doing, as though people in themselves were an appropriate set of creatures to have dealings with God. I often think of the set pieces of liturgy as certain words which people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed. In the high churches they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a strand of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect in any minute. This is the beginning of wisdom.”
“There are many reasons for a person to lie, but to have a reason to tell the truth, you much have a deep belief, and great courage.”
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