Ireland is delightful. It's so enchanting it makes you wonder why your ancestors left in the first place. Oh yeah--one dreadful famine and 800 years of British oppression. But you see, those things are over, so Ireland today is a land of friendly people, historical sights, and great food. Catch the right airline deal like I did and it's a budget saver for going to Europe.
So, the first and most important question is why does Guinness taste so much better in Ireland than here in the states? Same recipe, I'm guessing, but there is no comparison between a draught of Guinness in Dublin and the bottled version here in the U.S. So Guinness is added to a long list of delectables that can only be eaten/drunk in situ (including French bread, New York pizza and bagels).
We did spend some time doing genealogy. I couldn't resist seeing the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. So we went one afternoon and worked with one of the helpful librarians there. They have a genealogy room and two helpful attendants you can use. Of course, everything is online nowadays. Griffith's Valuation, the Tithe Applotment Book, and most importantly all the catholic parish registers. We used Michael's family as an example since they are typical Famine immigrants. We had Dennis Berrigan's parents from his death certificate from 1912 in Michigan. This gave him a date of birth about 1834 to parents Edmund Berrigan and Mary Doherty. Using Griffith's valuation we spied two Edmund Berrigans in 1850 in adjacent townlands in Tipperary County. We converted the townland names to parish names and have two catholic parish registers to search. We didn't search, but we are on the right track.
It was fairly easy to accomplish that. Of course, as the librarian pointed out, we weren't looking for John Kelly and had good information to use (always do all your homework in the U.S. before going to Ireland). So now we have a new trip to take and see southern Ireland for Michael's Berrigans in Tipperary and my Stacks in Cork. We went west to Galway and saw the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Beautiful sites both.
We managed to rent a car and drive on the left side of the road without killing anybody including ourselves. The trick is being able to shift with your left hand as you drive a manual car on the left side of the road (upon very narrow roads in County Clare).
Another trip to be made will be to Northern Ireland where most of my Irish ancestors came from: Donegal, Down, Armagh, and Antrim counties. But until then, I can content myself that I've now been to all the ancestral homelands of my ancestors (Canada, Scotland, England and Czechoslovakia in 1983).