I'm traveling this week, although not in Ireland so I'm a bit late posting this. Two weeks ago I wrote about Dublin which is where you want to start with your genealogy research. Whether you're researching or not, you'll want to get out into the country side to see the wonderful sites of this beautiful country.
Before you go…read about the history of Ireland. If you don't want to read a history book, I recommend historical fiction, particularly The Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherford. This is a series composed of two books, The Princes of Ireland which begins in pre-Christian Ireland with the Druids and moves through various time periods up to the time of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries. The second book of the series, The Rebels of Ireland takes you from the Plantation of Ireland (1605_ through the Irish Civil War (1922). Told through the lives of various families, it will help you understand the issues of religion and politics in Ireland. One of the people on my trip last year commented on how valuable this was during her tour of Ireland prior to the research.
So where do you visit? It will take more than one trip to Ireland to see and appreciate the country. If this is your first trip, you might want to take advantage of a tour. This can be an overview visiting all of the tourist highlights, or a specific one day tour (many available out of Dublin) to one specific site. If you're going this year, there are so many opportunities because of The Gathering. If you're planning a future trip, check Tourism Ireland.
Here's a list I published last year (with apologies to the original author for not crediting since I don't know where I got the list) titled My List of Do Not Miss Places in Ireland! I tend to agree on these and have visited most of them. I'm still working on a few. Last summer I made it to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Another stop on my trip last summer was to Cobh. Known to most researchers as Queenstown (named after Queen Victoria), it was changed back to the Irish version of it's pre-Queenstown name, Cove, after Irish Independence. Besides being one of the main ports of embarkation for Irish emigrants, it was also the final port for the Titanic as well as the place where both survivors and the dead were brought after the sinking of the Lusitania.
If you're interested in more of my commentary on various locations I've visited, I've blogged daily during some of my previous trips. You can find these trips by going to the blog archive in the sidebar to the right and clicking on the month of the trip…October 2012, June 2012, June 2010. Once you find the first blog, click on the back arrow at the top (<) to go to the next day.
One of the best things about visiting Ireland is finding the cousins who remained, so traveling to the townland from which your ancestors emigrated, and finding your cousins is by far, the best part of your travels. You never know what you'll discover. Jack Moughty of County Longford is the spitting image of my father-in-law, Bernard Moughty. And when my husband, Brian, met his Daly cousin Sabina in County Mayo for the first time last year, they discovered their common love of rock and roll (Sabina had driven to Dublin the night before for a Springsteen concert).
If you want your trip to include research, take a look at the 2013 Dublin Research Trip (still space available). This provides an opportunity for assisted research in Dublin as well as the companionship of like minded people to share your experience (especially important if your partner, like mine, is "not into dead people" <g>).