McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland

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9781840328301: McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland
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Pete McCarthy's tale of his hilarious trip around Ireland has gained thousands of fans all over the world. Pete was born in Warrington to an Irish mother and an English father and spent happy summer holidays in Cork. Years later, reflecting on the many places he has visited as a travel broadcaster, Pete admits that he feels more at home in Ireland than anywhere. To find out whether this is due to rose-coloured spectacles or to a deeper tie with the country of his ancestors, Pete sets off on a trip around Ireland and discovers that it has changed in surprising ways. Firstly obeying the rule 'never pass a pub with your name on it', he encounters McCarthy's bars up and down the land, and meets English hippies, German musicians, married priests and many others. A funny, affectionate look at one of the most popular countries in the world.

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Review:

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

From the Inside Flap:

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.

Praise for Pete McCarthy and McCarthy's Bar:

"[McCarthy] is a worthy addition to the ranks of P.J. O'Rourke, Bill Bryson and Peter Mayle...He narrates a series of hilarious and surprising adventures with an acerbic eye and a comedian's gift for timing...This wonderful debut will appeal to readers who are looking for a well-observed travel guide, or simply for its incisive hilarity." - Publishers Weekly

"[McCarthy's] chronicle of what he heard in these neighborhood gathering places/social clubs/confessionals was quintessentially Irish, which means hilarious, sentimental, surprising and revealing." - The Dallas Morning News

"McCarthy makes an amiable traveling companion - witty, affable, with an endearing knack for meeting, or attracting, the most eccentric characters...With self-deprecating wit and a sly sense of the absurd, he makes even the most mundane experience entertaining." - Booklist

"Unfailingly sharp, good-humored, and offbeat: sure to please Celtophiles of every greenish hue." - Kirkus Reviews

"Fans of Bill Bryson will enjoy reading McCarthy's droll narrative of his rediscovery of his family's roots in Ireland." - Library Journal

"McCarthy's Bar is as far removed from the staid, traditional travel guide as one likely could get and still learn where to go, what to see, how much it might cost and what to expect." - San Antonio Express News

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