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.
'In its freewheeling, informal, jokey way, it is nothing less than an portrait of modern Ireland, in all its splendid contradictions. For a study on Ireland and Irishness, the book is exhilaratingly cosmopolitan in outlook ... Television's loss has been literature's gain.'
'Pete McCarthy is a funny man. You will know this if you have seen his award-winning television work or heard him on the radio ... It is impossible to mention comic travels without bringing up the name of Bill Bryson. McCarthy is more to my liking: less smug, delivering more of a sense that he actually noticed the places he passed through without making them seem a freak show. And funny enough to have my neighbours pulling long faces as I sniggered on the Tube the other day.'
'A genuinely funny, yet affectionate and informative portrait of the west of Ireland. His book is a collection of wry observations and anecdotes, a skill he developed presenting eight series of Travelog on Channel 4 ... I can guarantee a read that will make you laugh out loud'
'Comedian and broadcaster McCarthy takes a hysterical journey through the Ireland of his childhood. An extremely enjoyable book that had me rolling with laughter one minute and deep in thought the next'
The Latest (Brighton)
'McCarthy is a hilariously funny writer'
'Travel books these days are two a penny, but McCarthy's really is a volume to savour. The people of whom he writes will surely appreciate his sharp eye and gentle humour, and the natural beauty which he finds so awe-inspiring cannot but fail to impress even the most world-weary traveller.'
'Highly entertaining ... hilarious. A five star book'
'After reading this hilarious, informed and intelligent book, I am tempted to buy books by every other McCarthy around. This is a serious writer struggling to make himself heard above the many excellent jokes and this is what makes McCarthy's book so distinctive. Although he can crack Brysonesque quips with the best of them and take us through hilarious and largely drunken set pieces, McCarthy is equally at home discussing Celtic standing stones and the potato famine. The resulting book is a wonderful debut. By the end, we, too, would like to move to Ireland. You sense that McCarthy has such a genuine feeling for Ireland, Irishness and Irish history that he can only temper his writing with side-splitting humour. In this way, his first book successfully embodies much of what it is to be Irish.'
'McCarthy chronicles his drunken voyage with humour and insight, the people he meets are portrayed with sensitivity and wit. He has an ear for dialogue, but also a love of Ireland and Irish history. This comes across as a lot more than a gimmicky travel book, but as genuinely well written and very funny, managing to balance humour and observation in tight and witty prose'
WH Smiths online
'Meant to be funny, this succeeds nicely. His rule - never pass a bar that has your name on it - makes a simple and pleasing frame. Authors should never record their own books, except autobiography, which this is, and McCarthy gets away with it.'
'Pete would provide you with miles of smiles on the road to wherever you happen to be going ... The hugely entertaining, and very funny, McCarthy's Bar is not a traditional travel book, it's one man's story of an expedition of discovery in search for his roots and an explanation for his gut desire to feel Irish. McCarthy's my kind of tourist, he avoids the obvious and delights in meeting the locals and soaking up their stories (some of them possibly even true) like a beer mat. If you've seen Pete's TV shows you'll know that his idea of travelling includes blisters and all, and McCarthy's Bar is filled to bursting with fascinating folk and their folklore. It may be a spit-and-sawdust view of Ireland, but I'll drink to that.'
Peterborough Evening Telegraph
'Warrington-born McCarthy's prose is not classic, but his travelogue is warm and inquisitive. McCarthy's discretion in refusing to name the best quality, best value hotel/eating house in the whole of Ireland won my heart. If your feelings about things Irish transcend Paddy McGinty's theme bars and Riverdance, this book is a must.'
Manchester Evening News
'McCarthy, whose sardonic wit will be familiar to listeners of Radio 4's Breakaway, is as lively and entertaining on the page as he is on the airwaves. Bristling with quips and jokes, he blends his wry humour with intelligent, measured discussions about Irish identity, the potato famine and ancient Celtic religions. The result is a delightful book that is as satisfying as a drop of the black stuff'
Travis Elborough, Waterstone's Online
'An entertaining meander about the Irish Republic. Warrington-born Pete McCarthy has set out to discover his Celtic roots and the changing face of Ireland in the nicest way possible. McCarthy finds that generous hospitality and good conversation are still to be found and that McCarthy's Bar is a fine place to start looking'
'One of the funniest writers around ... A warmly affectionate, humorous and entertaining journey, which perhaps reveals as much about Pete McCarthy as it does about Ireland and the Irish. If you were asked to choose the ideal travelling companion, you would probably put Pete McCarthy near the top of your list. But if he doesn't happen to be available, MCCARTHY'S BAR is the next best thing'
Yorkshire Evening Post
'McCarthy's Bar is entertaining throughout and although the author is always seeking a romantic image of the Ireland he knew as a child, he does so with good humour and intelligent insight. I could easily sink a few pints with this man and even indulge in a bowl of Singapore noodles afterwards.'
The Irish World
'Pete McCarthy's entertaining account of his journey through Eire searching for the links that bind him to the place ... The McCarthys turn out to be something of a publican mafia and Pete does them proud, both in the drinking and the telling'
'A hilarious odyssey which charts his quest to connect with his Celtic side. Though extremely funny, McCarthy's Bar also takes a serious look at changing times in a country until very recently caught in a 1950s timewarp'
Manchester Evening News
'His adventures are a joy to read. If he decides to go again, I'll volunteer to carry his case'
'If you're not pissing yourself within minutes of picking up this gem by Pete McCarthy, there's every chance you're actually dead. McCarthy's debut book is a witty, charming, insightful ride through his mother's homeland of Ireland. Dotted with hilarious rules of travel ... this one stands out in the often ho-hum world of travellers tales. Full of fascinating, friendly, usually drunken, people and experiences, McCarthy's Bar has you clambering for the next ticket to Ireland, hoping you'll find the author to help share a pint or six'
'Don't panic - this is not the same story you hear from every tourist you meet. This is a travelogue of Ireland, a journey by someone who feels both intimate and distant to a truly extraordinary country. It is an unusual insight, told through great set pieces and jokes that you have probably heard a hundred times before but you still laugh at them anyway. The author seems to have a natural aptitude (or some might say handicap) for meeting funny, strange and fascinating people. This book will make you laugh out loud through recognition and embarrassment, as you realise that you either know, are related to or are yourself like so many of the people who generally foist themselves upon an unsuspecting Pete McCarthy. This book is not a shamrocks and fiddles view of Ireland, more of a surrealist portrait of the character of a people not defined by any laws of normality. The skill of his writing means he can smoothly go from discussing the drunken craic in a plethora of village pubs to the atmospheric Celtic history of standing stones. This book is really worth a look, especially if you want a good laugh and an unsettling insight into the people, places and general madness that lies dangerously close to your own front door'
'Pete McCarthy's funny book about travel will have you trying to contain your mirth. Of equal importance, it will inspire you to visit places you haven't visited before, and tell you things about humankind you didn't know. With McCarthy's Bar, your only pain will be from sides split by laughing. He's a funny writer is what's-his-name'
The Herald (Glasgow)
'Like Bryson, McCarthy is a master of characterisation. All of those he meets, from ageing English hippies to impossibly shy hoteliers, are treated with the same gently barbed humour. He isn't too condescending or too self-effacing, which makes it easy to love this book. You will smile throughout and laugh out loud frequently'
'This is not a traditional travel book. McCarthy takes the local approach to planning the day - he goes to the pub and waits to see what transpires ... An engaging, evocative book. Four out of five stars'
Mail on Sunday
'Pete McCarthy takes an incisive but affectionate look at how Ireland has changed since the Angela's Ashes years'
Conde Nast Traveller
'A humorous look at what the west of Ireland has become. Save this for a rainy day when you're sitting by a peat fire with a bottle of Paddy's whiskey wearing thick socks'
'All is related with a wicked sense of humour that will have you laughing out loud. Be warned that if you plan to read this book in public you are likely to get some strange looks as you try to choke back the giggles. This is no mere travel book - it is a walk down memory lane, a look at the differences between the Irish and the English and a comedy delight. Slainte!'
Coventry Evening Telegraph
'An acutely observed and often hilarious series of snapshots of a country that can induce an onrush of sentimental cliche. A funny and believable travelogue'
The Sunday Times
'The finest travel book of the year to date. A wonderful, wonderful book - clever and funny in all the right places. Observant, thought-provoking and bold, it does the Irish people justice and gives them an authentic voice. MCCARTHY'S BAR is Bryson without the boring bits and I can pay its writer no higher compliment'
The Oxford Times
'Wonderful ... It's a surprise to discover that this is McCarthy's first book because he is an excellent writer, enthralling his readers with vivid descriptions of the Irish countryside, wonderful comic timing and a knack for the telling phrase. This is a hugely enjoyable book, heartfelt, self-aware and very funny ... full of funny anecdotes, keen observation and an intelligent exploration of what it means to be Irish, to belong here'
'A wonderfully funny journey around Ireland. In and out of McCarthy's Bars he went, encountering the mad, bad and gloriously wacky. He narrates MCCARTHY'S BAR with the help of a couple of actors, and it's a delight'
Express on Sunday
'The funniest book I've read this year'
John Walsh, Independent (October17th 2000)
'Funny and touching'
'He could probably make a phone book funny'
Independent on Sunday