It seems the longer I pursue genealogy, the less I get out of it. And it's more work I have to put in to it to get less out of it. Let me explain.
Next month I'm going to Ireland for the first time (if you don't count being at the Dublin airport changing planes). Up to now, I had always assumed that a trip to Ireland would entail at least one if not two days at the National Library in Dublin doing genealogy research. But now with only eight days in Ireland, I'm not sure I want to give one up to research. I think I'd be better off, walking around Dublin and having a pint of Guinness, rather than hunched over a microfilm reader. So I was thinking what would I gain from this? Well, the aim would be to place Thomas Stack (1819-1899) in his home village somewhere in Cork, Ireland. What would that accomplish realistically?
We know Thomas's parents from his death certificate. We know his birth date of December 1819 and place of Cork Ireland from his citizenship papers. I would have to look at Griffith's Valuation and the Tithe Applotments of 1821 and see which villages had a Thomas Stack (his father) in it and also had a Coleman in it (his mother). Then I would take that list of villages and search them one by one to find my Thomas. Say I do find him. What do I learn? Well, it would confirm or refute his parents names and place him definitely in Ireland. But he's born in 1819 with parents born say before 1795. What would I learn in the long run? Would I get their parents' names? Unlikely. I would only get one generation confirmed in Ireland very likely. Is that enough to give one day's worth of research for (with no promise of success)?
Likewise, I could hunt for the English origins of John Ferniside (ca. 1611-1693) of Boston, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Starr who was baptized at Ashford in Kent. Furthermore he was called a cousin in the will of James Couchman alias Cushman of Scituate, Massachusetts in 1648. Also called cousin in that will was John Twisden of York, Maine whose English origins are known to be Denton in Kent. He also moved to the village of Frittenden where his children were baptized. Given these clues it seems more than likely that John Ferniside was also from Kent. We could just triangularize the villages of Ashford and Denton and search all villages in between. This is a finite task and most of the Kent villages are not in the IGI. But again, what would we ultimately find if successful? We would place John in his home village and find out his parents' names and possibly his grandparents' names. Is it worth that to do all that work?
When you are just starting out in genealogy, all the breakthroughs are major breakthroughs. If you breakthrough on a 19th century ancestor with New England ancestry, you have 200 years worth of new ancestors to discover. But after a while you are just chipping away at one or two generations' worth of new information. Although every generation counts, the more time you put into the work, the less generations of new information you are getting out of it.
Lastly, I can now browse the Slovak parish records online thanks to familysearch.org/. I should find the death date of an ancestor Juraj Balaz who is alive in 1869 and dies thereafter. I just haven't had the will to browse through page after page of records. He was born in 1828, so if he lived to be 70, that's 1898 and thirty years' worth of records, not all of which are online.
You really have to be hungry to do genealogy and have a drive to put in the long hours for the little return you get. For me, that drive is gone and I can't see putting in the time and effort anymore.