Rose, I would have to say, the best part of the trip, was the Irish people themselves. Very friendly, everywhere!!
Some of the relatives knew I was coming, but the ones that had no idea I existed, seeing their faces, when I would introduce myself, was most rewarding. They would always say, "a Yank has come home."
Even though I traveled around Counties Mayo and Galway and bit of Sligo and the tip of Donegal, there still wasn't enough time to see everything that I wanted. If I didn't have to use so much time searching for relatives, I would have seen much more. But, that was the purpose of this trip, so, I knew my time for site seeing would be limited. I'm already planning another trip in two years. That trip will be for the purpose of seeing Ireland. My cousins house will be a five bedroom by that time. So, we are planning to have a few of the other cousins join me this time.
As many times as I came across tour buses, they weren't stopping at places of interest. They would slow down and announce what it was and drive on. That's not the way to see Ireland. Rent a car and go where you want. You need to ask the locals where the interesting places are. There are hidden castles and abbey's all over the place and mountain and lake scenes that they will tell you how to get to. That's the Ireland the tour buses will never show you. Just have a good map that shows "all" the side roads. They sell county maps that come in sections. You may need to purchase a few of them to cover the area of the county you want to see. You can pick up these maps at most of the gas stations.
I would strongly suggest, plan on visiting Ireland a few times. You can't see the whole country in a week or even ten days. Pick a different region each time you go. There's just to much to see in each region and bring plenty of film or capacity on your digital camera. You will be using your camera all the time. And don't forget to try some of the local pubs and restaurants. I wished I had stopped at a few more. The meals were always very good and served with a big smile.
Let me know if you need to know anything else.