Monday, September 15, 2014

Your Name Over the Door

With all documentation duly researched, all notes tucked firmly in place in the travel folio, all details safely backed up in The Cloud—or, at least, on—you’d think there wasn’t much left to do before our departure for our Ireland research trip.

Think again.

I can’t just sit back and let these next two weeks rush by me and not try to squeeze in as many other crazy research attempts as cross my mind. Call them wild goose chases, but they are not only my way of poking at the problem from every angle; they are a sign of my desperate hope that I will unearth the landslide of material I have yet to secure.

So I find myself engaging in silly escapades. Like the one inspired by the Mike Collins “Letter From Ireland” which I’ve told you about before. It’s a weekly commentary available free by subscription from Mike’s website.

One Sunday, about a month ago, Mike’s weekly letter arrived in my email with a book recommendation. Being a soul who cannot enter a bookstore without spending my life’s savings—or at least my charge card’s credit limit—on the contents the shopkeeper has on display, the mere mention of a book in his letter meant Mike had my attention.

The book Mike was recommending was once a best seller in the U.K. and Australia as well as in Ireland. It was said to have been uproariously amusing—always a nice bonus—and in the process of reading the thing, one would benefit from a narrative about off-the-beaten-path travels on the west side of Ireland.

The book was written by a British radio and television personality who specialized in comedy and travel programs. Though born in England, the author was raised by an Irish mother, and spent a good many childhood summers back in his mother’s homeland.

The premise stitching together the wandering—and mirthful—narrative was the author’s mantra, “Never pass a bar that has your name on it.” Considering the man’s name was Pete McCarthy, that meant a lot of stops in his travels “up and down the land.”

Since my husband, son of an American man of one hundred percent Irish descent, appreciates a good laugh, we thought it might be fun to look up a copy of the book—named, appropriately, McCarthy’s Bar. The book has certainly not disappointed in its promise.

Taking travel inspirations from that book, though, has its up-side and its down-side. If you have been following A Family Tapestry for the last few years, you may recall from the series on my husband’s father (starting here with his letters home during World War II) that our immediate family has experienced a very different viewpoint on the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, from which it would not be characteristic of us to blithely drink our way from one end of the island to the other. In fact, my husband’s livelihood is partially drawn from his public presentations urging restraint in that very matter.

On the other hand, one of his cousins was once inspired to create that very same ambience of the Irish pubs that McCarthy describes, in a business he set up—in Kansas, of all places. In honor of his—and my husband’s—ancestor, he named his establishment Tully’s Pub. (That same place, incidentally, though having changed hands a few times since our cousin’s passing, may still be in operation, judging from this review from a few years back.)

Perhaps it would be possible to find a Tully’s Pub in the homeland of our John Tully of County Tipperary. I thought I’d take a look.

Heading for the Irish version of the trusty Google, I tried to find a Tully’s Pub in Ballina.

Or a Tully’s Bar.

Or a Tully’s…well, anything.

Apparently, the Tully name is not a commercially viable entity back in the homeland. At least not according to Pity. I thought it might have made for some great photo ops.

Speaking of photos, though, apparently the very cover of Pete McCarthy’s best seller needed some doctoring. The real story was given up in a photo in Mike Collins’ own blog. Take a look here, scroll down to the first photograph, and see for yourself: in Castletownbere, it’s MacCarthy’s that is the establishment.

That, however, wouldn’t have made quite as engaging a story line for an author like McCarthy.


  1. The population of Ballina is 10,361 according to the 2011 census. Odds are someone is a Tully!!! states a Shane Tully runs a Quarry.

    1. Oh, Iggy, the frustration of researching a place like Ballina is in the constant search results popping up for the wrong Ballina! This one is in County Mayo, while our Tullys were in County Tipperary.

      However, your comment did inspire me to take a look at the population there. I always got the sense of it that Ballina was a small town, and the 2011 census records bear that out. Apparently, Ballina in County Tipperary is home to just under 2,500 people.

  2. Did you check all the other family bar possibilities?

    1. Oh, believe me Wendy, I am exhausting all possibilities.

  3. I almost drooled at the colorful houses and the you better have your camera ready:)

    1. Oh, Far Side, I don't think I could do it justice like you could...not to mention, we don't have the fancy cameras you have, either :)

      But I will be giving it my best shot, nonetheless.

      And yes, weren't those just the most remarkable photos?!

  4. You are going to have so much to do when you are there, I hope you have time to sleep! I feel so excited for you!

    1. Thanks, Michelle, we're kinda excited as well! We are not only hoping to find some helpful details in our research, but also some information that we can share with everyone else as well.


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