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McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland Paperback – Mar 3 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (March 3 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311339
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

McCarthy, writer and performer of the BBC series Desperately Seeking Something, is a worthy addition to the ranks of P.J. O'Rourke, Bill Bryson and Peter Mayle. English-born to an Irish mother, McCarthy spent childhood summers with relatives in West Cork. As an adult, he travels around the south and west of Ireland on a quasi-pilgrimage culminating in a visit to Lough Derg, an ancient penitential retreat. Following the mandate "Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name on It," he narrates a series of hilarious and surprising adventures with an acerbic eye and a comedian's gift for timing. Like all good travelers, he encounters an eclectic assortment of characters, including a pagan Christian priest who's rejected the Church, an Anglo-Irish Marquess, Jimi Hendrix's bass player Noel Redding, and Frank McCourt. Although occasionally indulging in tourist stereotyping--e.g., earnest Germans and loud, lazy Americans--McCarthy mines a rich comic vein, yielding delightful, often sidesplitting stories steeped in the peculiarities of British humor. He strikes some serious notes, too, adeptly capturing the impact of Ireland's recent social changes, from its astounding economic growth to the "bungalow blight" marring the beautiful countryside. He visits places where historic tragedies still loom large; his account of a mass grave for potato famine victims is simple and moving. This wonderful debut will appeal to readers who are looking for a well-observed travel guide, or simply for its incisive hilarity. (Mar. 19)Forecast: A bestseller in Ireland, this book will surely find an American audience if conspicuously displayed, given the Emerald Isle's current status as a hot vacation spot. The attractive cover photo of the author in front of an Irish bar is a plus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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A year later, and I'm on the plane to Cork. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Cooper on Aug. 6 2010
Format: Hardcover
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/4 and having 338 pages and NOT 1 SINGLE PHOTO!
This was an amazingly funny book and I was sorry to give it less than a full 5 star rating but it still to this day amazes me that a publisher will let a NON-FICTION book go to print without a single photo.
I mean it's not like any of these people moved quickly or bars disappeared overnight....even a landmark or 2 would have been nice considering the hundreds of references to them.
On a happier note let me quote a short section from the book....on Germans...and let's face it....who doesn't like a good laugh at a German?
This is a 'song' prepared and about to be performed by a duet of Germans.....hmmm..here goes..
"Please be nice to the Germans
We are different than you think
Our favorite colour isn't brown, but pink
Please don't fun at us poke
German humour is no joke
But it is well organised....."
Gott in himmel....even as I write the tears of joy are blurring my sight. I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself when I read that and there are MANY MANY more like that throughout the book....places where you will laugh out loud shamelessly and unable to control yourself.
Do yourself a favour and buy this book.
P.S. I have the sequel and will read and review it shortly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua on June 24 2007
Format: Paperback
Pete McCarthy was actually born Peter Charles McCarthy Robinson in Warrington, a town in the north-west of England. He was the eldest son of an Irish mother, who'd moved to England to work as a nurse. Naturally, there was an Irish influence on his upbringing : he was educated by the Christian Brothers and, in his childhood, spent his summer holidays with his mother's family in West Cork. Before moving into travel writing, Pete had worked on television, and adopted his mother's maiden name to avoid confusion with another actor. (It also spared him from sharing a name with a noted Northern Irish politician - who, unlike our author - has no great love for the Irish Republic). "McCarthy's Bar" was his first book, and follows his travels through Cork, Kerry and up the west coast to his eventual destination : the dreaded pilgramage on Lough Derg. (It's, therefore, not entirely set in pubs owned by people called McCarthy - but you weren't seriously expecting that anyway, where you ?).

I haven't read a lot of travelogues, but - up until now - I've made a point of avoiding those set in Ireland. I've flicked through one or two, and have been left with the impression that people who write travelogues - though they come close at time - don't quite 'get' the Irish. McCarthy, on the other hand, does a great job and sometimes 'gets' us a little too well. He sometimes wanders a little off-topic and, once in a while, includes some relevant childhood memory or the occasional random thought. (The possiblility of genetic memory is something he puzzles over more than once, and he briefly notes the contribution of the Irish to Australia's sporting successes). He touches occasionally on the Irish - English relationship, though (wisely) doesn't try to explain it, while other tourists provide a few laughs...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on March 31 2004
Format: Paperback
Pete McCarthy's style quickly reminded me of America's P. J. O'Rourke, who has made a significant contribution to humorous travel writing. McCarthy is English-Irish and his affinity for his roots shows through his writing. He looks for and finds humor in the little things about travel - talk radio, second-hand cars, hitch hikers, tourist traps, off-the-beaten-path finds, bad food, good company, pleasant and unpleasant surprises, nosy hoteliers, apparent (to McCarthy and the reader, at least) ironies, rapid changes in the weather, obnoxious tourists, embedded cultural curiosities, and, well, you get the picture.
For an American reader, some of the history, terms, and geographic references are not unexpectedly foreign. Some humor and lessons are lost in the 'translation'. And McCarthy is pretty hard on American tourists in Ireland, although not noticeably harder on them than on other foreigners searching for quaint elements of Irish tradition or cheap land to buy. Hippies, yuppie Englishmen, rich Germans, and other demographic and ethnic groups earn his disbelief and, often, mild contempt. He catalogs the changes he has seen in Ireland in his lifetime, and many of them are not pretty. The Celtic Tiger has lost some of its charm and sold out some of its character to tourism and those eager to buy inexpensive land.
Consistently observant, funny and insightful, my one, major negative from the book is that it left me much less likely to visit Ireland. There may still be a chance to save the country from foreign invaders, so I'll do my part.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. O'Connor on Dec 31 2003
Format: Paperback
I noticed "McCarthy's Bar" in the bookstore shortly before I left for a two-week ramble around Ireland. I put off buying it until I was back from my travels, then I sought it out. Several years separated my travels from Pete McCarthy's but I swear we met some of the same people, stayed in the same guesthouses, had the same reactions and frustrations and giggles, and felt the same blood-deep affection for the country and its people, natives and others alike. Reading through this book (and doing so slowly because I didn't want the journey to end) was like reading my own journal from a slightly different perspective. McCarthy immediately joins Bill Bryson and Tim Cahill on my shelf of worthwhite and recommended travel writers: the real ones...not the jet-setters who stay in posh hotels and view their chosen destinations through a motorcoach window with precisely timed stops for tea in tourist-approved establishments, but the ones who immerse themselves amongst the locals, sometimes unsuccessfully and with startling results, and write about their experiences with humor and healthy self-spoofing.
If you have any desire to hop over to Ireland, rent a car, and careen off down the back roads (i.e., most any Irish road) to see what you'll see, you'll enjoy "McCarthy's Bar."
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