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on 13 July 2006
I have just finished reading McCarthy's Bar, having been recommended it by an English friend. Before picking it up, I thought 'oh yeah, a second-generation Paddy, going to tell us real Irish what we're like. Bring it on!'.

In all honesty, I have never, EVER laughed so loudly at the descriptions, and the perfect analysis of the Irish psyche. It's not all flattery from McCarthy - his observations on the new Celtic Tiger Ireland being particularly scathing (albeit dripping in a humour-filled sarcasm). However, he is never patronising.

He IS funny. Funny to the point of side-achingly hilarious. The Egyptian spuds, the scary B&B woman, the Christian Brothers who packed a good punch - all real situations, that turn into comic capers, once the sardonic eye of McCarthy is cast upon them.

It's also a poignant book too. Moreso for me when I realised while reading it that the author had sadly passed away in 2004. I left the book wondering if Pete McCarthy had finally found somewhere that he fitted in intrinsicly, and if there is a McCarthy's Bar beyond the pearly gates (and if it's being run by an ex-Garda or a Christian Brother with three kids!)

An excellent book. I can't reccomend it highly enough.
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on 9 June 2005
Pete Mc Carthy wrote a couple of excellent books chronicling his travels around Ireland and further afield before his sad death from cancer last year. McCarthy's Bar & The Road to McCarthy are both well worth a read. If you like travelling, meeting interesting characters and a nice pint of Guinness then Pete McCarthy will soon become your friend.
The book isn't so much a travel guide as a humourous look at different sides of Ireland as seen through the witty eyes and ears of the late Pete. I especially enjoyed the part when he visits Lough Derg, having been there twice myself! Some other reviewers have complained about some of his observations and also his attempts at humour. While the humour in this may have been exaggerated somewhat, it IS funny, for God's sake! Those who think otherwise are probably the sort of people who don't laugh at anything, considering themselves above that sort of nonsense.
There are some genuinely funny moments and some clever turns of phrase and Mc Carthy has definitely established a real flair for storytelling in this, the first of his books.
On the frequent occasions when Pete just happens to be having a pint (again..) i wish i was on holidays. There's something extra nice about having a pint on a summer's day and not feeling guilty about it.
I thoroughly recommend Pete's books to anyone with a sense of humour.Unfortunately, his sad demise means that we won't be able to share any more of his adventures.
The world is a sadder place without him.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2007
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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on 24 August 2001
This is undoubtedly one of the funniest books I have read this year. McCarthy's style is one of great wit combined with brutal honesty and the characters are eccentric and outlandish without being unbelievable. Although McCarthy constantly whinges about the about the number of tourism in Ireland I feel that 'McCarthy's Bar' could only be fully appreciated by this social group, perhaps to be viewed by the Irish themselves as stereotypical and even offensive at times. Nonetheless, being English, I enjoyed the read. The allusion to 'Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence' had me giggling to myself on the tube (much to the bemusement of other passengers). The central theme of the book - whether McCarthy belongs in England or Ireland - is perhaps its weak point. I can't help but feel that had he not spent his travels staring at people with enough intensity to recreate them on paper - or sitting in the corner of a room scribbling furiously on a notepad - he might have felt more of a part of things. Despite the fact that I often drifted in parts, the humour is enough to keep you going. I'd definitely recommend it.
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on 16 February 2006
Buy this book. Now. This is by far one of the best books I have ever read.
The sorely missed McCarthy has created a humerous and sometimes deeply emotional account of his journey around Ireland. His observations of all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) characters are heart-warming and very funny, and his self-depricating humour shines through.
Some parts made me laugh out loud, drawing disapproving stares from the people in waiting rooms and at the hairdressers.
Great fun!
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on 16 October 2000
I bought the book originally because I share two things with Pete MCCarthy.
1) A Surname & 2) A Love of Bars.
Having Spent most of my Summers as a youth on the South West Coast of Ireland, I trod a similar path to Mr McCarthy - stopping in the Pubs with my name over the door. Many endearing and hilarious episodes followed of course, but none I could relate with the clarity and good humour that the author manages to put down on paper. I was a bit nervous about buying a spoken word version, but I thought it would have been great for the car - and how right I was! This man makes the subject matter even funner when he delivers his account in the 'matter of fact' way that makes his adventures truely entertaining.
My next mission is to have the tape on in the car while searching for 'The Church" - and if you want to know what that means - buy the book! (You'll not regret it)
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on 24 February 2005
I picked up this book purely because I love Ireland with all my heart and was drawn to the front cover. I read it on holiday in Ibiza and loved it. It was warm, funny and friendly and kept me sunbathing all holiday. Even in the warm ibiza sun all I wanted to do was go back to Ireland again, it's so evocative of my memories. Ireland is a one off place, where people are just like McCarthy describes them and the place names, locals and quirky pubs are just as funny and original as he makes them out to be. I love Ireland so much, it's no wonder I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who's not in love with Ireland - you just wouldn't understand.
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on 10 June 2002
As soon as I finished the book, I turned back to the beginning to start again, and take in all the bits that I missed the first time in my rush to keep turning the pages and enjoy it all. Having been brought up in England of Irish parents, I felt like I was reading exactly how I felt about this wonderful country, and re-living my own memories of childhood holidays, Irish characters, and just the charm of this country that seems almost impossible to put into words. If you've ever visited Ireland you will love this book - and if you haven't it will make you want to go. I hope he writes more - he's a natural at recounting real life, characters, and the landscape of Ireland, and also at letting you inside his mind and his memories.
I'd never lend my copy out - I want it on my bookshelf! - but I'd urge anyone to read it. You will really enjoy it.
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on 10 February 2016
Fabulous book - looking for bars with McCarthy in the name! Meeting strangers and looking for family and the more out of the way places in Ireland.
Great entertainment - made me laugh out loud and chuckle throughout! Well worth a read!
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on 15 April 2004
Like one of the other reviewers I came across this book by someone who like me had read and enjoyed Tony Hawk's book "Round Ireland with Fridge".
Unlike the other reviewer I found McCarthy's book a superior read. It is a very funny and thought provoking book.
I don't know if it helps but I grew up in the west of Ireland and many of the scenes and events he describes bring back a lot of memories and it means that much more. The person who recommended this book for me is an English woman who asked, when I'd finished it, if it was really like that over there. I have to say yes, it is. He brings such a positive perspective and his combination of English and Irish humour is wonderful.
I have just recently started to read one of his other books "The Road to McCarthy" and I've not been disappointed so far. I am, again, finding myself on trains and buses reading this book and laughing my head off. Brilliant.
Top books.
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