Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Jenessa  Vogt 

A History of U2: Irish Rock and Political Activism

The Memoirs of Frank McCourt: Pain and Struggle into Manhood

Frank  McCourt
Irish memoirist Frank McCourt communicates the pain he experienced both as a child born into extreme poverty in 1930s Ireland and later as an immigrant in America. His dramatic portrayal of his struggles, rather than being merely self-indulgent or gratuitous, serves to emphasize McCourt’s triumph of attaining his dream in America, not only as an educator and father, but also as an individual who has discovered the worth of his own life story. The dire circumstances McCourt endures make him experienced in dealing with heartache but also causes his ignorance in social life because of the vast differences in expectations and the American lifestyle. He carries the pain from his past originating from his feelings of self-hatred from being forced into Catholicism and the silence he learned from the chauvinistic Irishmen around whom he was raised. Ultimately, he finds comfort in learning as well as teaching. Frank McCourt succeeds in breaking his silence through sharing his past with his students and with the reader.

Twenty eight years after McCourt left Limerick, in a neighboring county, Dublin, a unique rock and roll band emerged from the eclectic context of traditional Irish music. U2’s emotionally rich music, seasoned with their political and social activism, inspired and transformed the lives of their fans and the societies in which they lived. Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., and David Evans created music fueled by the power of personal integrity and lived experiences. Their unique personalities, work ethic, intelligence, talent, and Christian faith forged an unbreakable bond with each other and their fans. Their genuine interest in activism was exemplified through their music in albums such as War, songs like “Pride” about MLK Jr., participation in benefit concerts such as their Conspiracy of Hope tour, and their contribution to charitable organizations such as Greenpeace. These exceptional attributes, interests and accomplishments made U2 one of the most popular and successful rock and roll bands of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Major Works Consulted:

Dunphy, Eamon. Unforgettable Fire: The Definitive Biography of U2. New York: Warner, 1987.
McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes. New York: Scribner, 1996.
--. ‘Tis. New York: Scribner, 1999.
U2. U2. London: HarperCollins, 2006.
Photo Credit: Anderson, Getty. Frank McCourt, Author of Angela's Ashes, Dies. Web. 6 Mar 2013.,9171,1912401,00.html.