Staggering Through Ireland

Book: McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy

MacCarthy's Bar, Castletownbere, Ireland, Photo by VMB
MacCarthy’s Bar, Castletownbere, Ireland, Photo by VMB

Destination: Ireland

Okay, so my title is a little misleading. But then so is the title of the book,  McCarthy’s Bar.

Author Pete McCarthy sometimes stayed sober.  But never somber.  Even though his name was McCarthy and he did find a few McCarthy’s Bars in Ireland, Pete McCarthy’s subtitle is a bit more in touch with the true nature of the book, “A Journey of Discovery in Ireland.”

Along the way, he visited a large number of pubs. Americans who separate their bars (for drinking) from their restaurants (for eating) not to mention separating their bars from their grocery stores (for buying food) and their cobblers (for fixing shoes) need to adjust to the idea that Irish pubs can be the Circle K/General Store/Mini Mart/Pool Hall/Shoe Store or most anything else of a small community.

In his memoir, McCarthy uncovers the life of everyday Irish people and revels in their hospitality, if not their inevitable bar food of thin slices of ham between slices of spongy white bread with nothing on the side. The very funny book is a road trip that takes you beyond the usual tourist haunts as he searches for his roots in his mother’s native land.

I must admit that the cover drew me to the book. It pictures the MacCarthy’s bar in the small town of Castletownbere where I spent three days on my trip around southern Ireland. And yes, my husband and I had a meal of those spongy white bread sandwiches in the bar in Dunquin that advertised itself as the last pub before Boston.

Sign along the road to Dunquin, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Photo by VMB.
Sign along the road to Dunquin, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Photo by VMB.

This book was published in 2001 and followed in 2003 by The Road to McCarthy; Around the World in Search of Ireland which chronicles a world-wide search for all things McCarthy, an even wilder expedition than the Irish jaunt.Unfortunately, McCarthy, who had been a comedy star in England as well as a comic writer, passed away in 2004.

Who are your favorite travel humorists? Bill Bryson? P.J. O’Rourke? Or have you discovered an as-yet unknown writer of funny travel tales?

Note: This post includes links to Amazon, in case you want to buy the book. A Traveler’s Library earns a few cents when you shop through our links, but it costs you no more. I’ll drink to that.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

2 thoughts on “Staggering Through Ireland

  1. My uncle goes to Ireland every year and think he goes to this place. he talks of MacCarthy’s bar, not sure how many MacCarthy’s bars there are in Ireland though!

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