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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 Press; Reprint edition (March 3 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311339
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
A year later, and I'm on the plane to Cork. Read the first page
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
It's not often I'm laughing out loud all through a book. As someone toying with an Irish pilgrimage this book has given me things to ponder. McCarthy gets to the heart of what I think a lot of people with Irish ancestors are looking for when contemplating a trip to Ireland...and he's so funny. I enjoyed feeling as if I was traveling while reading. His descriptions of the characters, the decor of the pubs and countryside is great.
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