Road to McCarthy: Around the World in Search of Ireland

Overview

Pete McCarthy established one cardinal rule of travel in hisbestselling debut, McCarthy's Bar: "Never pass a bar withyour name on it." In this equally wry and insightful follow-up,his characteristic good humor, curiosity, and thirst for adventuretake him on a fantastic jaunt around the world in search of hisIrish roots — from Morocco, where he tracks down the unlikelychief of the McCarthy clan, to New York, and finally to remote Mc-Carthy, Alaska. The Road to McCarthy is a quixotic and anything-but-typical Irish ...

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Overview

Pete McCarthy established one cardinal rule of travel in hisbestselling debut, McCarthy's Bar: "Never pass a bar withyour name on it." In this equally wry and insightful follow-up,his characteristic good humor, curiosity, and thirst for adventuretake him on a fantastic jaunt around the world in search of hisIrish roots — from Morocco, where he tracks down the unlikelychief of the McCarthy clan, to New York, and finally to remote Mc-Carthy, Alaska. The Road to McCarthy is a quixotic and anything-but-typical Irish odyssey that confirms Pete McCarthy's status asone of our funniest and most incisive writers.

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Editorial Reviews

The Independent(UK)
"The funniest book I’ve read this year."
Chicago Tribune
“McCarthy is stitch. Move over, Bill Bryson. You’ve finally met your match.”
St Petersburg Times
“Engaging… [McCarthy’s] curiosity is infectious and there’s plenty to amuse.”
Conde Nast Traveler
“An entertaining romp [and] a meditation on Ireland today.”
London Times
“A funny and believable travelogue.”
The Independent (UK)
“The funniest book I’ve read this year.”
Dallas Morning News
“Hilarious, sentimental, surprising and revealing.”
Booklist
“With self-deprecating wit and a sly sense of the absurd, [McCarthy] makes even the most mundane experience entertaining.”
Books Magazine
“A volume [that] cannot fail to impress even the most world-weary traveller.”
Kilkenny People
“A hugely enjoyable book, heartfelt, self-aware and very funny ...an intelligent exploration of what it means to be Irish.”
Washington Post
“Hilarious...If McCarthy isn’t telling a fabulous yarn himself, he’s quoting someone who is.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A travelogue that’s as hilariously gratifying as it is entertaining.”
Mail on Sunday
“An engaging, evocative book.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Highly engaging…a very funny book.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A travelogue that’s as hilariously gratifying as it is entertaining.”
Dallas Morning News
“Hilarious, sentimental, surprising and revealing.”
Chicago Tribune
“McCarthy is stitch. Move over, Bill Bryson. You’ve finally met your match.”
Washington Post
“Hilarious...If McCarthy isn’t telling a fabulous yarn himself, he’s quoting someone who is.”
London Times
“A funny and believable travelogue.”
Booklist
“With self-deprecating wit and a sly sense of the absurd, [McCarthy] makes even the most mundane experience entertaining.”
Conde Nast Traveler
“An entertaining romp [and] a meditation on Ireland today.”
Mail on Sunday
“An engaging, evocative book.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Highly engaging…a very funny book.”
St Petersburg Times
“Engaging… [McCarthy’s] curiosity is infectious and there’s plenty to amuse.”
The Independent (UK)
“The funniest book I’ve read this year.”
Books Magazine
“A volume [that] cannot fail to impress even the most world-weary traveller.”
Kilkenny People
“A hugely enjoyable book, heartfelt, self-aware and very funny ...an intelligent exploration of what it means to be Irish.”
Publishers Weekly
In the bestselling McCarthy's Bar, McCarthy had one rule: never pass a bar with your name on it. In Road it's: never pass a part of the world with your name in or on it. Thus this genealogist-cum-pint-swilling adventurer embarks on a frolicsome, drunken globe-trot to uncover the roots of all things McCarthy and in the process expose what it means to be a McCarthy and, by extension, to be Irish. It's a lively, lusty quest; McCarthy travels like a Renaissance explorer with a film director's lens. In Tangiers, he finds a Moroccan McCarthy who puts a unique spin on the term "black Irish." He takes in America's premier Irish event, New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade (which he finds more Celtic and American than Irish and not a little Scottish besides). Next stop: Tasmania, the penal colony where so many Irish were sent by the British government. And how could he resist a visit to the town of McCarthy, Alaska, population 18? The ultimate mocking tour guide with acerbic charm, McCarthy delivers scathing critiques of people and places, himself included. His droll and often drunken existentialist view proffers a unique (and distinctly Irish) perspective on the world that is part history, part McCarthy's Law. Some may be put off by his frequent references to drugs, sex and overimbibing, but McCarthy is like a character out of contemporary Irish literature, a traveler on a winding road surrounded by life's imperfections yet finding them beautiful despite it all (especially after a pint or two). Photos, maps. (Feb. 6) Forecast: A four-city author tour, national broadcast and print media campaign, and a postcard promotion will help target readers, and McCarthy's caustic humor should appeal to fans of David Sedaris and Joe Queenan. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
McCarthy introduced us to Ireland in his first book, McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in the West of Ireland, which earned him Newcomer of the Year honors at Britain's Book Awards, but this time his journeys take him far from the Emerald Isle. Here he treks to Tangier to meet the deposed McCarthy M r, Prince of Desmond. Then he's off to America to see Larry McCarthy, head of the North American Clan McCarthy Association in Butte, MT, and to McCarthy, AK ("current population somewhere between 14 and 20"), where he attempts to discover the fate of James McCarthy, copper miner and town namesake. He researches the McCarthys sent to Australia as prisoners and celebrates two very different St. Patrick's Days-one in New York City and one on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. As he explores all things McCarthy ("never pass a bar that has your name on it"), his humorous and insightful comments on the Americans, Australians, Moroccans, British, Irish, and others that he meets during his travels make this a delightful memoir. Recommended for larger public libraries.-Rita Simmons, Sterling Heights P.L., MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Broad humor follows the author on his travels to unearth a selection of far-flung kinsmen. McCarthy (McCarthy’s Bar, 2001) takes his stereotype—the silver-tongued Irishman who unreels one fine little story after another, typically involving a pub—and runs with it. But he elevates the cliché with his peerless sense of timing, his sharp eye for the absurd, and his willingness to unbend his elbow and go find life elsewhere. Not that bars have lost their allure, be they abroad, where "experience has taught me that you can sometimes meet interesting and colorful people in hotel bars in old colonial outposts," or at home, where "the room went quiet and everyone stood as he played the national anthem, indicating that it was now an hour and a half after closing time. Then we all carried on drinking." But here McCarthy is interested in sussing out the Irish who have traveled from home, whether partaking of the "wholesome, brightly lit neo-drunkenness" of Madison Square Garden, or learning in Alaska that "if [you] can keep both ends warm, the middle part takes care of itself." Pursuing his clan chief to the unlikely location of Morocco gets the author thinking: "The unaccustomed moistness of the Irish climate must have broken down their skin pigment, a kind of genetic rusting process that led inevitably over the centuries to red hair and freckles." Morocco also leads him to a curious encounter with Mohammed Mrabet, the fabled storyteller who fascinated Paul Bowles. Other intriguing passages consider "the tail-end of Dublin’s bohemian-aristocratic avant-garde" and rumors of a 2,500-year-old Jewish sect in Queens. "If you travel in hope rather than certain knowledge, something interestingusually happens," McCarthy opines. In his case, at least, this is true. A boon for fans, and likely to gather yet more admirers of McCarthy’s travels.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007162130
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 610,145
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Pete McCarthy was born to an Irish mother and an English father. He is a hugely popular British television personality and the author of the critically acclaimed international bestseller McCarthy's Bar. He is also a recent winner of the British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year Award and the Irish Post Award for Literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Part 1 Ireland and Morocco
1. Attack of the Killer Macaques 7
2. Pity the Poor Emigrant 25
3. McCarthy's Casbah 47
Part 2 New York City
4. Unrepentant Fenian Bastards 97
5. Fairy Tale of New York 129
Part 3 Australia and the West Indies
6. Young Ireland in Damn Demon's Land 157
7. Emerald Isle of the Caribbean 218
Part 4 Montana and Alaska
8. From Beara to Butte 271
9. Where the Road Ends and the Wilderness Begins 299
Part 5 Return to Cork
10. To Travel in Hope 339
Acknowledgments 363
Epilogue 367
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First Chapter

The Road to McCarthy
Around the World in Search of Ireland

Chapter One

Attack of the Killer Macaques

It had seemed a romantic idea to arrive in the port of Tangier, and the continent of Africa, by sea; but the painfully early hour of my flight to Gibraltar, where I will catch the ferry to Morocco, has already turned romance sour. An alarm clock ringing at four in the morning in the middle of an English winter is a cruel and unnatural thing. The fear of getting up so early pollutes my sleep, filling it with nervous, guilty, premature awakenings, as well as nightmares of having overslept and missed the taxi, the flight and the rest of my life.

It's frosty and still dark as we board the plane at a shopping mall with an overcrowded airport attached somewhere in Sussex. The young man in the seat next to me is Estonian, like his friend across the aisle. When breakfast is served he orders two quarter-bottles of red wine from a surprised stewardess and knocks them back at high speed with his sausage, bacon, mushrooms and powdered egg. Then he eats the muesli and yogurt. It's so early my brain isn't working properly, and I'm struggling to decipher the meaning of such extreme behavior.

The Estonians are accompanied by a hearty English business type in a Winnie-the-Pooh-on-a-balloon tie who is keen to show that he's in charge. He keeps telling the Estonians very boring things in a loud, slow voice with all definite and indefinite articles removed, like a whisky trader talking to injuns about heap powerful thundersticks. When the stewardess comes to collect the breakfast debris my Estonian orders a gin and tonic to wash the wine down, while his friend opts for another cup of tea and some port. I have been to Estonia twice, and can report that it is an enigmatic country, with a glorious tradition of choral singing.

We're crossing southern Spain when the pilot comes on the intercom to tell us that the weather isn't very nice in Gibraltar. Very windy, apparently. More than fifty miles an hour.

"Under the circumstances it would be hazardous to attempt a landing. We'll get back to you in a few minutes to let you know what's happening."

"WINDY!" shouts Winnie the Pooh at the Estonians. "not landing! dangerous! go! somewhere! else!"

He's using his right hand to mime what he thinks is a change of direction, but the Estonians think is a plane crash. They have taken on the haunted look of men who are about to plummet from 36,000 feet and don't know whether to use their last seconds to proposition the hostess or order more gin and port.

Before they can decide we enter a cloud and the plane starts pitching and bumping in the most terrifying manner. It feels as if the controls have been seized by two teenage boys who are pulling and pressing everything in sight to see who can make a wing fall off first. Clouds look such gentle, fluffy things, so what the hell's inside them that can cause aircraft so much grief ? Monsters? A giant anvil? Gods who are displeased with us? Not for the first time I find myself wondering whether you pass out as soon as the fuselage cracks and you hit the cold air, or whether you remain conscious and have a brilliant but eye-watering view all the way to the ground, or sharks.

We ricochet down through the clouds and suddenly we're clear of them, descending rapidly but seemingly still in control. The PA system bing-bongs and the pilot is back on the airwaves.

"We've decided we'll try and give it a go anyway."

His voice is alarmingly casual. I suppose he's hoping to reassure us, but his words couldn't be more worrying if they'd been spoken with a slur and preceded by the phrase "Ah, sod it." Though we've spent the last two hours flying over land, we're now very close to something that looks like the sea. I can see white tops on the waves. I can see individual drops of water, but no sign of land anywhere, as we go into an abrupt gung-ho bank to the right that suggests our man may be a frustrated fighter pilot who failed the psychological profiling. All around me passengers are exchanging panic-stricken glances with complete strangers with whom they've so far been scrupulously avoiding any kind of eye contact.

And now there it is in front of us, the Rock itself, massive, gray, broody, windswept; but, above all, very solid-looking. The PA pings back on.

"I'm afraid this may be a little bumpy." And that's it. He's gone quiet. Perhaps one of the stewards has managed to force a towel into his mouth before he could add, "but I really couldn't give a toss." We're hurtling flat and low across the water, straight towards the Rock. Why are we so low? To get below the radar? Are we going to bomb it? They're on our side, aren't they? We're so low over the spray that I can feel it on my face; or is that just the Estonians crying? And now there's the airstrip straight ahead of us, immediately beneath the enormous bulk of the Rock. At close range it really does look dauntingly dense. If we do hit it, it seems unlikely we'll have the option of surviving for ten days by eating each other.

A brutal gust of wind strikes the plane, tipping the wing on my side up towards the Rock, then down towards the seabed. We're dropping ever lower, rolling from side to side in newer and scarier ways, when without warning the G force sucks back our stomachs ...

The Road to McCarthy
Around the World in Search of Ireland
. Copyright © by Pete McCarthy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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