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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this where the sandwich dressing comes from ?, 24 Jun. 2007
This review is from: McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland (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...most notable among these are the Germans and - dare I say it - the Americans. (Please note : anyone who tries to tell you that, as a result, this book is anti-English, anti-German or anti-American should be roundly laughed at. Give them a lollipop, a pat on the head, even dry their eyes for them - just don't listen to them). McCarthy has produced a very funny and hugely enjoyable book, and I will certainly be picking up "The Road to McCarthy". Absolutely recommended.
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