"Old friend" may be a strong claim. I haven't seen or spoken to Frank, other than on a couple of isolated occasions such as the memorial party for our common friend Dennis Duggan, since he became famous as a writer and television commentator. Back in the day, though, we spent some hours talking on adjacent barstools at the Bells of Hell and the Lion's Head. I heard many of the stories that later were told in Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man in the course of those conversations.
The Frank McCourt anecdote I have to offer, however, comes from a public event--a memorial concert for Tommy Clancy of the Clancy Brothers--at which he emceed and told the following joke:
How do you tell an Irishman from an Englishman? It's in how they propose marriage. An Englishman says, "Dahling, I love you. Will you marry me?" But an Irishman says, "Mary, how would you like to be buried with my people?"I pray this will be the last of the "goodbye" posts I must write for a while.
Update: Here's the New York Times obituary.
Second update: In yesterday's Times, Eric Konigsberg quotes one of Frank's former students as comparing him to Lou Reed.