Malachy McCourt might be an actor, author and raconteur of considerable note, but his obvious intellectual gifts were only made official last week at a ceremony at the Irish Consulate in Manhattan.
McCourt, as a youth, sat and failed twice the then Irish Primary Certificate exam, a necessary test to pass from grade school into secondary-level education.
As readers of his brother Frank’s “Angela’s Ashes” well know, there were any number of reasons as to why Malachy McCourt might have found it difficult to concentrate in class and muster enough energy to pass an exam.
Either way, the lack of a Primary Certificate has been a source of some frustration to McCourt ever since. But the story has a happy ending. At a chance encounter in Washington, D.C., with former Irish education minister Michael Woods, McCourt poured out his tale of academic woe.
Woods got the message loud and clear, as do most from Malachy McCourt, and decided that three books, a successful stage and screen career and wit worthy of a Marx brother as much as a McCourt, was worthy the appropriate piece of paper.
The primary exam no longer exists, but governments can do great things. A belated primary certificate with McCourt’s name on it was duly printed and presented to the man himself last Thursday at the consulate by the departing Irish ambassador to the U.S., Sean O’Huiginn.
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McCourt’s take on his better late than never pedagogic success: He would now be able to go on with his life and make something of himself.