Sunday 21 October 2018

Award-winning 'McCarthy's Bar' author dies after long cancer battle

Martha Kearns

THE award-winning writer who made McCarthy a world-famous name with his bestselling travel book about Ireland has died after an eight-month battle with cancer.

Pete McCarthy, author of 'McCarthy's Bar', and 'The Road to McCarthy', was just 51 and leaves a wife and three children.

In 'McCarthy's Bar' he journeyed from Cork to Donegal, obeying one rule: never pass a bar that has your name on it.

It was a bestseller in many countries including Ireland, and knocked Frank McCourt off the top slot here. The book sold nearly a million copies and won him the newcomer of the year prize at the British Book Awards in 2002.

Since its publication, his one-man show based on the book has toured throughout Ireland, the UK, Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong.

The British writer, broadcaster and comedian's second book, 'The Road to McCarthy', documents his pursuit of far-flung Irish connections from Cork and Belfast to Gibraltar, Morocco, New York, Tasmania, Monserrat, Montana and Alaska.

McCarthy - a self-confessed technophobe who did not own a computer or typewriter - wrote his books with pen and paper.

Born in Warrington to an Irish mother and English father, McCarthy - who lived in Lewes, East Sussex - was fascinated with exploring his Irish heritage. He also presented the Channel 4 series 'Travelog' and hosted Radio 4 panel show 'X Marks The Spot'.

Mr McCarthy's tour manager Adrian Mealing said his friend was delighted with the worldwide reaction to his books and had been planning his third.

"These books endeared him to several generations around the globe . . . Pete's books caused seismic public laughter . . . The man himself was lovely and shall be missed."

McCarthy started out as a stand-up comedian and earned a Perrier Award nomination and became resident compere at The Comedy Store in London. He was the co-founder of Brighton's Cliffhanger Theatre, with whom he toured the world, picking up an Olivier Awards Nomination for best comedy en route. After the announcement of McCarthy's death at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton on Wednesday, publishers of his books Hodder & Stoughton said: "Everyone at Hodder & Stoughton loved working with him as both a talented author and a friend."

In a recent interview, McCarthy said last year: "At 14, when I read 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by James Joyce, I knew that I wanted to write. If you write, you can make up your own rules.

"It was never a desire for fame; I was drawn to earning a living from a creative act. It seemed impossibly wonderful."

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