My father and mother should have stayed in New York, where they met and married and where I was born.

After a full belly all is poetry.

I asked my dad what afflicted meant and he said 'Sickness son, and things that don't fit.

We never really had any kind of a Christmas. This is one part where my memory fails me completely.

There are so many ways of saying Hi. Hiss it, trill it, bark it, sing it, bellow it, laugh it, cough it. A simple stroll in the hallway calls for paragraphs, sentences in your head, decisions galore.

Sure, I went through my 'J'accuse' phase. I was so angry for so long, I could hardly have a conversation without getting into an argument. And it was only when I felt I could finally distance myself from my past that I began to write about what happened - not just to me, but to lots of young people. I think my story is a cautionary tale.

I'm in New York, land of the free and home of the brave, but I'm supposed to behave as if I were in Limerick at all times.

For some reason, I wrote about the bed we slept in when I was a kid. It was a half-acre of misery, that bed, sagging in the middle, red hair sticking out of the mattress, the spring gone and the fleas leaping all over the place.

Mam was always saying we had a simple diet: tea and bread, bread and tea, a liquid and a solid, a balanced diet - what more do you need? Nobody got fat.

If I have a cause, it's the cause of the teacher.

If you have a class of 35 children, and they're all smiling, and there's one little bastard, and he's just staring at you as if to say 'Show me', then he's the one you think about going home on the train.

The main thing I am interested in is my experience as a teacher.

I think that's why you see so many Americans in Dublin look so sad: they are looking for the door through which they can begin to understand this place. I tell them, 'Go to the races.' I think it's the best place to start understanding the Irish.

The part of Limerick we lived in is Georgian, you know, those Georgian houses. You see them in pictures of Dublin.

A funeral was a great form of entertainment. A wake was a great form of entertainment.

I was a houseman, the lowest. I was just above - in the hierarchy of jobs, I was just above the Puerto Rican dishwashers - just above, so I felt superior to them.

It's not enough to be American. You always have to be something else, Irish-American, German-American, and you'd wonder how they'd get along if someone hadn't invented the hyphen.

You are never to let anybody slam the door in your face again.

Some, like Mother Teresa, are born with a gene to help the poor, and some are born with a gene to write. I was born with a gene to tell my story, and I just had to.

This is the situation in the public schools of America: The farther you travel from the classroom the greater your financial and professional rewards.

Kids all want to look cool, as if knowledge is a great burden, but they're always looking around. They remember.

I would dream of going up to the 'New York Times' and asking them if I could please be a copy boy or let me scrub the toilets or something like that. But I couldn't rise to those heights.

You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.

There's nothing worse in the world than to owe and be beholden to anyone.

When I act tough they listen politely till the spasm passes. They know.

I never really fit in anywhere.

I certainly couldn't have written 'Angela's Ashes' when my mother was alive, because she would have been ashamed.

You look at passers-by in Rome and think, 'Do they know what they have here?' You can say the same about Philadelphia. Do people know what went on here?

But I don't know how I'll ever get a college degree and rise in the world with no high school diploma and eyes like piss holes in the snow, as everyone tells me.

I think there's something about the Irish experience - that we had to have a sense of humor or die.

Where did I get the nerve to think I could handle American teenagers? Ignorance. That's where I got the nerve.

I don't know anything about a stock!

Shakespeare is like mashed potatoes, you can never get enough of him.

You have to give yourself credit, not too much because that would be bragging.

You don't have to go fight bulls in Spain like Hemingway to write something great, or go off to war. It's right under your nose.

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.

I didn't have to struggle at all to get an agent and a publisher. Everything fell into my lap.

People who think I have insulted Ireland or Limerick or my family have not read the book!

People come up to me and talk about the alcoholism in their family.

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.

Sit and quiet yourself. Luxuriate in a certain memory and the details will come. Let the images flow. You'll be amazed at what will come out on paper. I'm still learning what it is about the past that I want to write. I don't worry about it. It will emerge. It will insist on being told.

I don't see myself as either Irish or American, I'm a New Yorker.

Nobody ever told them they had a right to an opinion.

Way back in my mid-20s, I started making notes. I would just jot things down: lists of street names, songs, peculiar turns of speech, jokes, whatever.

The bus stops at the O'Connell Monument and Uncle Pat goes to the Monument Fish and Chip Café where the smells are so delicious my stomach beats with the hunger. He gets a shilling's worth of fish and chips and my mouth is watering.

For once, mam, my bladder isn't near my eye and why isn't it?

I appealed to my mother. I told her it wasn't fair the way the whole family was invading my dreams and she said, Arrah, for the love o' God, drink your tea and go to school and stop tormenting us with your dreams.

We were supposed to stay over in Boston, but when Scribners heard I'd won the Pulitzer, they told me to get on a plane - that Katie Couric wanted my body. And when Katie Couric wants your body, you get moving right away.

Even when I went to the Lion's Head in the Village, where all you journalists would hang out, I was always peripheral. I was never really part of anything except the classroom. That's where I belonged.