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Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness Paperback – February 19, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An Australian, McHugh has his first pint of Guinness on the ferry from Wales to Ireland and is mighty unimpressed. But after he reaches the Emerald Isle, his opinion of Guinness changes and, along with Twidkiwodm ("the-woman-I-didn't-know-I-would-one-day-marry"), he circumnavigates the island in search of the best pint. McHugh certainly isn't the first backpacker to traverse Ireland's customary tourist spots—Yeats country, the Burren, the pubs of Dublin, the Giants' Causeway, Dingle Bay—with beer on the brain. But it is the unplanned events that make the travel special. While he inserts his share of Irish lore and legend into his travelogue, his descriptions of being in a rowboat with a German bagpiper or his recounting of leading a rag-tag bunch of Italians, Germans and Australians up the sacred mount Croagh Patrick are what brings his book to life. It also helps that McHugh, who continually professes his admiration for Irish writers, has a bit of the gift of gab himself. His prose flows like a friendly barstool chat and his frequent cheeky one-liners play the foil to his nostalgic nature. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Australian McHugh tires of bright and light native lagers and heads straight for the boss brew: Guinness. Certain that he has yet to encounter stout in its optimum state, he treks about Ireland in search of the elusive "perfect pint." Along the way, he visits many a pub, reveling in each bar's uniqueness. The quality of Guinness, he discovers, really does differ from place to place around its native country, and his taste for and appreciation of the beverage grows and grows. Lest the reader fear that this journey is nothing but a geographically extended bender, McHugh and his girlfriend, Twidkiwodm (pronounced, McHugh claims, just like "Michelle"), survey such typical tourist haunts as Trinity College Library, with its Book of Kells; the banks of Dublin's River Liffey; and the spectacular Dingle Peninsula. He likens driving in Ireland to Russian roulette. Fans both of Ireland and of Guinness will enjoy pub-crawling with McHugh. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (February 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312377584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312377588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,472,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Eldred VINE VOICE on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of this book tells you what this Irish travel book is all about. And that is what drew me to it.

Contents:
The first round
Dublin on tap
Beer and politics
Blood is thicker than Guinness
Love at first pint
Pub town
Heading north
The holy mountain
A land of pubs and poets
Last drinks

Australian, Evan McHugh, travels to Ireland to meet some friends. On the ferry over to Dublin from Wales, he and his travelling companion "Twidkiwodm" (the-woman-I-didn't-know-I-would-one-day-marry), aka Michelle, have their first Guinness. It was not a very good experience (but it sure was funny to read). Debarking, they are told that the Guinness served on the ferry is about the worst in the world. Their friends take them to a couple of pubs in Dublin, including the Guinness Factory Tour. Whilst sitting in a Dublin pub, they are told that the best Guinness is found on west side of Ireland. Off they go, looking for the best Guinness and the result is Pint Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness.

Travelling cheaply, hitchhiking and sleeping in hostels, McHugh provides a wonderful travelogue of Ireland. That he is looking for the "perfect Guinness" makes this even sweeter. Travelling from town to town, asking about the best Guinness, experiencing some of Ireland's best (but maybe not so well known) sites, and picking up books from local writers (Yeats is one). Interspersed throughout the book, McHugh includes words from the writers to explain some of his experiences. It adds a lot to the book.

This book really makes me want to visit Ireland. No matter where he goes, be it Dublin, Westport, Sligo, or Belfast, the people are friendly, kind, and humorous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. F. McNamara Jr. on March 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was fun, interesting and very well written. To read a book about Ireland that does not have the troubles as its main subject matter is refreshing. The author does a great job of relating Irish culture to the reader. The author even goes as far as to write the peoples dialects into the book, so that when you are reading the book, you can get a sense of the softness of the language.

I would recommend this title to anyone that wants to learn a bit about Ireland. I would especially recommend this to all those of Irish decent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine tipped me to a book that immediately caught my interest... Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness by Evan McHugh. Having spent a little time in Ireland for a software conference, I find myself drawn to the country, people, and customs. Evan McHugh made me feel like I was right back there. And I haven't read something this funny in quite awhile...

Contents: The first round; Dublin on tap; Beer and politics; Blood is thicker than Guinness; Love at first pint; Pub town; Heading north; The holy mountain; A land of pubs and poets; Last drinks

So the framework of the story is that Evan and his traveling companion (who was to become his wife) decide to travel over to "Oirland" to meet up with a couple of friends. Knowing that there would be plenty of drinking (it *is* Ireland!) of Guinness, he felt that it was necessary to acquire a taste for the dark beverage. On the ferry over, they start their training. It does *not* go well. His description of "moother's milk" leads you to believe that mother is none too well. As expected, a stop at a pub is the first order of business once they meet their friends. This Guinness goes down better, which starts the discussion as to where you can find the "perfect Guinness". So as they travel the island via train, hitchhiking, and hostels, the question is always asked... where can I find the perfect Guinness? And it's always "somewhere else". Along the way, you meet traveling companions, colorful locals, and more pubs than you ever imagine existed. And at the end, McHugh does find the answer to where the perfect Guinness can be found. And it's a classic...

While it sounds like this book is all about beer, it's really something much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Todd R. Jordan on December 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pint-sized Ireland is a fun and engaging read. The author shares his vacation around Ireland that evolves into the search for the perfect pint of Guinness.

Evan and his traveling companion go from the worst Guinness they can imagine to finding the answer to where to find the perfect pint. Their journey takes them up one side of Ireland and back down the other.

Along the way they are carted, cajoled, and cared for by the locals and fellow travelers. They find that Ireland has more pubs than hotels, and more stories about Guinness that one might imagine.

A good read as the author relates much about the land its self, its people, and its history. We meet several of the locals, we are with him as he scales a mountain, and stand beside him in awe with each new discovery.

I recommend this book to those who love Ireland, and those that love Guinness, and finally to those that just love a good old fashioned pub crawl.
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Format: Paperback
I recently read McHugh's book in preparation for another trip back to Ireland. Although the author is a bit younger than me and seems to aim this book at a slighter younger audience (the 20s and 30s age group), I still found it to be especially enjoyable. Although the book flags a little towards the end--or perhaps it was author's journey that was flagging--McHugh possesses a very engaging writing style and has a wonderful wit that had me laughing with him most of the way.

If you have already been to Ireland and would just like to reminisce, McHugh's book will take you back to a lot of scenarios where you will probably find yourself going, "I remember that." "Pint-Sized Ireland" is also a quick, fun read for anyone who enjoys travel essays.
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