Posted by: bluelion | March 17, 2016

Let’s read… the most hilarious guide through Ireland

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#38 Pete McCarthy: McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland (Thomas Dunne Books, 2014)

“The barman-shopkeeper was in his sixties, and a cardigan.” (p.35)

And so it goes on. A laugh out loud account of Pete McCarthy’s physical and spiritual journey through the West of Ireland. I just loved it!

I feel my words won’t do any justice for him, so I let him speak a bit more:

‘Specially grown for flavour’, claim the supermarket’s Dutch tomatoes. Well, what other reason is there for growing tomatoes? Speed? Comfort? An ability to glow in the dark?(p.34)

I love this kind of humour. Then, a strange thought occured to me halfway through the book.

I felt like I was travelling with him when it suddenly hit me that he was no longer alive. This thought kept coming back. How can I accompany him on his journey when he is not treading this earth anymore? Does it provide any comfort for his loved ones? Do they feel being in his company again when they’re reading his book(s)? Or his absence is even more painful, probably.

He is the second author in a few weeks, who I follow on an epic journey, searching for something greater than themselves: almost extinct animals and the struggle to protect them in one case, finding their own identity and ontological answers in the other. Both are hilarious. Both writers are prematurely dead.

Then, I completely forgot he wasn’t alive, just as he started contemplating about his own mortality. (I guess that makes sense though, dead people usually don’t ponder about it much. I think. Or maybe they do. Anyway.)

“[T]he crucial secret of human happiness: that it’s better to do a few things slowly, than a lot of things fast.” (p.272)

The book turned more serious but this didn’t spoil it at all. On the contrary, it made it better, special. A bit more than a funny guide. I guess the true talent lies somewhere there, in entertaining the reader and not taking oneself too seriously, looking at everything with a great sense of humour but acknowledging what is serious. It is even more powerful that way: when the funny guy turns grave, you know it is really important.

I felt honoured that I could go along with him on this very personal spiritual journey. I was involved in the book so much that I had to blink away that world whenever I stopped reading. What a talent (he was)! I really want to live in Ireland now (Again. Still. I wrote my MA thesis about the Troubles, mind ya.). I don’t want to go back to England with him at the end of the journey!

And that’s when my baby wakes here, in reality’s Budapest. At the book read 97%. After I dressed her and gave her food, she snuggled in my lap and let me finish the book (while carefully studying a Duplo booklet and saying meow repeatedly – you guessed it, there was a tiny cat somewhere in the picture).

I did a quick Google search of McCarthy’s Bar in Budapest, but couldn’t find one. However, I was reminded of Irish Cat Pub where my husband and I used to meet between university lectures, and a wave of nostalgia hit me. And John Doyle’s is said to be a very good, really Irish one.

I know it seems to be rather Teutonic of me (though I don’t know about any German links in my family), and its incompleteness bothers my OCD as hell, but here you go, these are the Rules of Travel mentioned in the book:

#1 On Arrival, Buy a Local Paper and Go for a Drink
#2 (in Ireland) The More Bright Primary Colours and Ancient Celtic Symbols Outside the Pub, the More Phoney the Interior
#3 Never Bang on About How Wonderful Some Unspoiled Place is, Because Next Time You Go There, You Won’t be Able to Get In
#7 Never Eat in a Restaurant with Laminated Menus
#8 Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name On It
#13 Never Ask a British Airways Stewardess for Another Glass of Wine Until She’s Good and Ready
#16 However Exotic the Country, the Local Radio Phone-in Quiz Induces in the Traveller a Sudden and Dramatic Downturn in the Will to Live
#17 Never Try and Score Dope From Hassidic Jews While Under the Impression They’re Rastafarians
#19 When Perusing a Menu, Never Consider Anything Containing the Words Goujon, Platter, or Cheesy
#26 Any Italian Travelling Abroad Will be Accompanied by an Even More Glamorous Person of the Opposite Sex
#28 Never Get Drunk with Soldiers (particularly in countries where the streets are named after dates)

And a final advice from Pete McCarthy:
“If life is a book, then read it while you can. Don’t save up any pages for later, because there might not be one.” (p.305)

Dear fellow Ireland lovers, and Irish people of course,
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Good luck now.

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Responses

  1. […] In many books, it is where the characters live, and in many cases, it is what helps them and us relax. There is nothing more soothing than the sea. […]

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