50 Years of Shoveling Horse Shit
Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, USA and from the age of three was raised in Limerick, Ireland. He returned to the land of his birth at the age of twenty and again worked at the manual tasks such as longshoreman, truck loader, dishwasher, until he became an actor. That career took him to Broadway and Off-Broadway and regional theatres in plays such as Mass Appeal, Da, The Hostage, Inherit the Wind, Carousel and Translations. The soap operas such as Ryan's Hope, Search for Tomorrow, One Life to Live, and All My Children were also a good source of work and sustenance as were the movies 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. Due to a heavy schedule of writing, book signings and public appearances McCourt had to take a sabbatical from the acting trade but is now back after completing five movies Happy Hour, Guru of Sex, Gods and Generals, and Ash Wednesday plus a running part in the HBO prison series Oz. As well as being the co-author of the play A Couple of Blaguards with his brother Frank, Malachy has written his own New York Times bestseller memoir, A Monk Swimming, published by Hyperion Press. His memoir, Singing My Him Song, now out in paperback is published by Harper Collins. Running Press recently published four of Malachy’s books: the history of the song Danny Boy, a history of The Claddagh Ring, Voices of Ireland, an anthology, and Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland. Recent books, Harold Be Thy Name and Bush Lies in State, are published by Welcome Rain. In the works is I Never Drink When I’m Sober for Harper Collins. Malachy writes a column, Sez I to Myself, that appears in the Manhattan Spirit, The Westsider and Our Town in NYC.
Question: What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?
Malachy McCourt: Ah. I think when I was a kid I was advised, and this is poverty – depression thinking. Somebody said there was a job in Limerick where I grew up, and at the time, cars were not as numerous as they are now. There were more horses, and so they dumped their horseshit all over the place. And there were a few people who got jobs in Limerick, a big barrel on wheels, and it was a barrel that went back and forth, and a shovel and a broom. So, they went around shoveling the horseshit into this barrel. So, you got that job when you were around 15, and then you got to retire at the age of 65, with a pension. A small pension. So that would be 50 years of shoveling horseshit. And I was advised very seriously that I should get that job. I didn’t. And I thought that – not that’s either here on this earth shoveling horseshit, or else that’s my punishment in hell, shoveling horseshit. And that’s the worst advice I ever got.
And the best advice was, do whatever you want because that’s not what you are. That’s what you do for the moment.
Recorded on March 10, 2010
Malachy McCourt describes the worst career advice he’s ever received.
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