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McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy
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McCarthy's Bar (2000)

by Pete McCarthy

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1,2072910,154 (3.75)27
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Excerpts from my original GR review (Aug 2009):
- More than a pub-hopping journal of western Ireland. Loads of history, consistent humor, seat-of-pants touring advice. Overlaying all this is McCarthy's sense of pilgrimage, of finding the Irishness in himself, as well as in the many foreign visitors immersing in the culture.
- McCarthy had a real social eye. Odd characters are related here with a kind of admiration. (I read a couple chapters at the local Waffle House, perhaps the most affable representation of Ireland I could find close at hand) His ultimate sense of belonging to the land of his forbears comes through, concealed a bit in his comical bent.
- Anyone of Irish descent or with interest in Ireland should enjoy this. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Sep 5, 2018 |
Travel Book
  NdunaGirls | Oct 8, 2017 |
This is Pete McCarthy's travelogue and spiritual quest for his roots in Ireland. His observations are wry and telling. His misadventures with old Volvos, German tourists and Irish cows will have you laughing. You don't have to be Irish to enjoy, but everyone is a little bit Irish. ( )
  varielle | Jun 23, 2017 |
An introspective book about one man's search for meaning and roots in an increasingly disconnected world. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
The late Pete McCarthy was a staple of TV and radio comedy throughout the 80's and 90's but it was with this travel book that he finally found real fame. A chronicle of his travels around Ireland in search of.....well he's not really sure himself. A sense of belonging? A search for his Irish roots? Whatever it is, he tells the tale with great good humour and a fine eye for the absurdities of Irish life.

Travelling around in an old blue Volvo with no real plan other than to sample Singapore noodles in as many Irish towns as possible, McCarthy encounters a strange mix of the old Ireland and the new Celtic Tiger Ireland (this was published in 2000, before it all went tits up). He paints a picture of an Ireland adjusting itself to a greater influx of tourists from all over the world. A land of stunning landscapes and unpredictable weather. And a people with their own unique attitude to life and how it should be lived (which boils down to "what's the rush?").

His prose is witty, warm and extremely readable. There is a great deal of affection for the country his parents came from, but he's still the Englishman outsider and it's that distance that makes his observations ring true.

This book really does have some laugh out loud moments, so if you're reading it in public, be prepared for some strange looks. I really enjoyed it. ( )
1 vote David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
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To Irene, Alice, Isabella and Coral
and to Margaret and Ken
for taking me there.
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The harp player had just fallen off the stage and cracked his head on an Italian tourist's pint.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312311338, Paperback)

Although Pete McCarthy was raised in England, his mother hails from West Cork and, despite never having lived there, he can't shake the strange feeling that Ireland is more home than home. A return pilgrimage reveals immediately why he (or anyone, for that matter) feels "involved and engaged" in Ireland. On arriving at the airport in Cork he's greeted by a guy in a giant rubber Celtic cross getup who's telling jokes with a latter-day St. Patrick (the guy who cast all snakes and pagans out of Ireland). Later, when McCarthy happens to mention that his surname matches that of the pub he's in (ever faithful to his Eighth Rule of Travel: Never pass a bar that has your name on it), the owner buys him a Guinness, invites him to her raucous all-night birthday party, then insists he move to Ireland because, well, obviously he belongs. McCarthy's Second Rule of Travel states: The more bright primary colours and ancient Celtic symbols outside the pub, the more phoney the interior. While the island is turning into a haven for upmarket tourists--and McCarthy offers outstanding examples of bumbleheaded tourists in action--he still finds plenty of pubs where you can buy a bicycle and which still exist primarily as venues for conversation and Irish music sessions.

While most travel writers seek out opportunities to meet the famous--or the infamous--McCarthy has the charming knack of just bumping into them on his rambles, which is how he met Noel Redding, formerly of Jimi Hendrix's band, and the author Frank McCourt. Far more interesting, though, are the eccentric and talkative bachelors and landladies who turn up in pubs, B&Bs, and the middle of the road. McCarthy has mastered the art of getting creatively lost, wandering the back lanes of Ireland where the hype of tourism has yet to arrive, pursuing stone circles, impossibly romantic ruined abbeys, and, of course, pubs. What he discovers is that "In Ireland, the unexpected happens more than you expect," which makes for a hilarious tour through one of the most beautiful, friendly, and quirky places on earth with a comedian who has honed the art of telling a good story and of having fun.--Lesley Reed

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The #1 Irish Bestseller Despite the many exotic places Pete McCarthy has visited, he finds that nowhere else can match the particular magic of Ireland, his mother's homeland. In McCarthy's Bar, his journey begins in Cork and continues along the west coast to Donegal in the north. Traveling through spectacular landscapes, but at all times obeying the rule, "never pass a bar that has your name on it," he encounters McCarthy's bars up and down the land, meeting fascinating people before pleading to be let out at four o'clock in the morning. Written by someone who is at once an insider and an outside, McCarthy's Bar is a wonderfully funny and affectionate portrait of a rapidly changing country.… (more)

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