Cover image for The mammy
The mammy
O'Carroll, Brendan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Plume, [1999?]
Physical Description:
174 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Dublin : O'Brien Press, 1994.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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"Mammy" is what Irish children call their mothers and The Mammy is Agnes Browne--a widow struggling to raise seven children in a North Dublin neighborhood in the 1960s. Popular Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll chronicles the comic misadventures of this large and lively family with raw humor and great affection. Forced to be mother, father, and referee to her battling clan, the ever-resourceful Agnes Browne occasionally finds a spare moment to trade gossip and quips with her best pal Marion Monks (alias "The Kaiser") and even finds herself pursued by the amorous Frenchman who runs the local pizza parlor.

Like the novels of Roddy Doyle, The Mammy features pitch-perfect dialogue, lightning wit, and a host of colorful characters. Earthy and exuberant, the novel brilliantly captures the brash energy and cheerful irreverence of working-class Irish life.

Now a major motion picture starring Anjelica Huston

Author Notes

Brendan O'Carroll , the youngest of eleven children, was born in Stonybatter, a North Dublin neighborhood, in 1955. He is an acclaimed playwright and Ireland's most popular stand-up comedian. The creator of a hugely successful Irish radio show, Mrs. Browne's Boys (the genesis of his novels), O'Carroll is also an actor and has a role in the upcoming film version of Angela's Ashes . All the books in his Mrs. Browne trilogy were #1 bestsellers in his native Ireland. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Remember Irish sentimentality--movies starring Bing Crosby as a priest and John McCormack singing "Mother Macree" ? It's back in O'Carroll's episodic story about a working-class Dublin family in 1967. Agnes Browne, widowed at 34, with six boys and a girl to support, sells vegetables in a street market, next to bosom friend Marion, who sells fruit. The third protagonist is Agnes' eldest son, Mark, 14 and ready to leave school for work. The adventures in this book, the first in a trilogy, include Agnes' application for government death benefits, which opens with sublimely morbid hilarity; Mark's puberty, cause of the funniest family scene; daughter Cathy's encounter with her starchy teacher Sister Magdalene; and, unfortunately, Marion's death. A pungent running gag is three-year-old Trevor Browne's favorite salutation: "F--off!" The f-word besprinkles the conversation, for these endearing characters are genuine lower-class Dubliners, and their humor is often sexual and scatological. But the overall effect is earthy, not obscene. The book ends at Christmas with Agnes getting her heart's desire. Need a hanky? Definitely. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his first novel, Irish playwright and stand-up comedian O'Carroll mines the same material (Irish humor and gritty upbringing) as the novels that spawned the movies he's acted in: Roddy Doyle's The Van and the upcoming film version of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. A tribute to O'Carroll's mother, the narrative is set in the working-class Dublin of the 1960s, where Agnes Browne (the Mammy) works a fruit and vegetable stall with her best friend, Marion Monks, but dreams of dancing with suave singer Cliff Richard. And Agnes needs all the romance she can get as a sexually na‹ve, newly widowed beauty raising seven kids on her own. Agnes helps her eldest son, Mark, negotiate puberty and search for a job, while defending her other children from sadistic nuns, gossipy neighbors, depression and each other. She also finds time to date the Frenchman who owns the local pizza parlor. When Marion is diagnosed with cancer, she and Agnes get as daring as their stations in life allow: Marion takes driving lessons and Agnes tries to buy a ticket to a Cliff Richard concert. By novel's end, each has made peace with her dreams. Like stand-up comics, the characters here are more clever and glib than ordinary people, but these Dubliners are also irresistibly charming as they face their daily scrapes and heartbreaks. Tales of working-class Irish life now fill bookshelves, but there's space aplenty for O'Carroll's sturdy contribution. (May) FYI: The Mammy launches a trilogy that will include future Plume titles The Chisellers and The Granny. Meanwhile, O'Carroll will appear in a film version of The Mammy starring Anjelica Huston. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Irish comedian O'Carroll declares that he was lucky to have been born and raised in Finglas, Dublin, a place where strong women are in abundance. The Mammy tells the story of Agnes Browne, a widow and mother of seven who is undoubtably modeled on the women of Finglas. The story begins with Agnes and her best friend, Marion, in the public waiting room of the Department of Social Welfare on the day of Agnes's husband's untimely death. Wit, humor, and resourcefulness guide Agnes in her role as mother, father, and best friend. The Mammy contains a colorful cast of characters, and O'Carroll's depiction of 1960s working-class Irish life is animated and entertaining. Recommended for public libraries.ÄDianna Moeller, WLN, Lacey, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.