Irish roots, Irish genealogy, Irish expectations, can all lead to a fulfilling trip to Ireland but be aware of the modern day pit falls that can be encountered along the way.The Irish people are not all the same. This seems simple enough, but it can be the hardest tip to learn.
For the most part you will run into the most industrious, interesting, patient, and pleasant, folks you would ever want to meet. You will also run into some miserable energy stealing louts. You may run into some folks who are nice but just sick of tourists. It is your job to know a few rules and know how to avoid the negative few.
When prompted with provoking opening statements don’t take the bait. Examples; Bush invades iraq for oil, Obama he’s as Irish as my behind, You Americans think…. The response to openings like these is a polite no comment, politics is a game best left unplayed, A long time ago when tensions were high between north and south I found myself in Dingle in a pub with Irish friends who were discussing the subject. I listened, learned some, I kept my opinions to myself. You never know who is affected by your comments, you don’t know the players involved, unless you are planning to move to Ireland or are a scholar on a particular issue it’s best to leave these things alone
Ireland tourism spends a lot of money each year promoting Irish tourism, this results in Irish tourist, as in any tourist area the local population gets a little tired of dealing with the same old touristy stuff day after day. So be polite, don’t ask demeaning questions, Know that most people live in modern houses not thatched cottages, they have a hectic work week like the rest of us and are not there to entertain you, (I make this point a lot so it will sink in), but as with all new encounters many will be entertaining.
The pub is a social gathering place, its where you are apt to have some good conversation and some good laughs, if you are part of a tour the tour operator will take care of you, but it’s good to know the proper pub etiquette for patrons of the pub, you may find yourself on your own, know the rules.
The things that are universal, the sites of Ireland are wondrous. Each county is different, each county man is proud of his county. A little praise or flattery goes a long way. My cousin and I are in Tullamore in Offaly, and the first thing he talks about with the local Tullamore guy is how wide and nice the main street is, this never occurred to me, but the street was wide and in good shape. The fellow went on about the history of why the streets were so good, really proud of his town.
When you open your mouth and words come out the locals know you are a tourist. Let them ask you about your Irish connection, it takes a little longer but the trick is to have them convince you that you are Irish instead of the other way around. People born in Ireland are Irish, we who are born in other countries are of Irish descent.
Use the tourism office for places of interest. If you are researching your family genealogy they can show you the places where church records are stored, they may even know the family name and make a connection for you. Being invited in to the connection is the key.
Genealogy research will start at home, using death certificates and church records. Many searches will be traceable to the the famine years, and that is also where you’ll have the most trouble finding information. Desperate people in dire straits headed on crowded ships to the four corners of the earth, many to the U.S, many to Canada, some South America or Australia. The stories of Ellis Island tell of families names changed or forgotten, if information wasn’t available it was made up. My name can be traced back to my great grandfather who was born on the ship to America he was categorized as an American born in Framingham. The death and famine they left prevented them from romanticizing the old country which in turn mean’t they left no stories of the places they were from besides their name. They were one straw in a haystack among thousands of haystacks. If you can find a death certificate of this first generation American it may have the place of birth of their parents of Ireland. A good blog for tracing Irish roots is written by Deborah Fox she is a real genealogist, so I highly recommend her website.
Ireland is a beautiful, welcoming vacation destination, whether you visit for the Irish music, the Irish food, the Irish fun, or do an Irish genealogy vacation, you sure to have a craicin good time.