In 1998, Pete McCarthy embarked on a project to explore Ireland. Over the next six months he traveled from Cork in the south south up the west coast to Donegal in the north, always observing the Eighth Rule of Travel: “Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name on It”. The result is McCarthy’s Bar. Publishers Weekly and Library Journal both compare McCarthy’s writing to that of Bill Bryson as he narrates the stories of his travels through the particular magic of Ireland.
I often find myself reaching for Irish tales in the late weeks of February and early March. Either that or baseball. I stumbled across this choice while browsing the local bookstore last week. Pete McCarthy was born in England to and Irish mother and an English father. He is at once an insider and an outsider to Ireland and it is that particular perspective that colors his tales, be they with the curious, the belligerent, or the infamous.
Along the way, McCarthy shows us that “In Ireland, the unexpected happens more than you expect.”