I just stumbled across this forum. From Boston, I went to Ireland a few years ago and figured I'd visit the 'place of my patronym' - I had a village name (my great aunt thought: "Kilkenny on Malin") in Donegal, but I knew nothing more.
It was at Christmastime (BAD TIME to do research!), and I was staying w/a friend's family for the holiday. I mistakenly took the bus from Dublin to Donegal - not a pretty place, I must report.
I did meet a nice fellow who pointed out that, contrary to the Ordinance Office's reply "It's near Donegal town," the place I wanted was probably on MALIN HEAD, a pennisula near DERRY and the northern-most point of the island (there is also a weather station there - so the rest of Ireland has at least heard of it).
I went on to (London)Derry, where I caught another bus to a little village near MALIN - in the winter, the buses are sporadic.
MALIN is a very charming village: remote, pretty countryside, folks are kinda clannish & stare at strangers. There is also an oldish/refurbished hotel, which they very kindly kept open for me!I would recommend it as a place to visit for a week or two - take plenty of books, it's RURAL. They do occasionally get american visitors, looking into family origins, but not so many they're pestered: I believe there was a DOUGHERTY GENEALOGICAL CENTRE on an island 15 min. drive south of Malin town. Again, I needed better timing to see that ...
I looked in the phone book: there was a very large cluster of DOUGHERTYS at "Culkenny on Malin" (that was probably the correct name) and McLAUGHLINS. I would presume this was where my great-grandfather came from...
I didnt get a chance to see the parish priest, who has church records with all the names in it (baptisms, marriage & deaths): he was preoccupied. Another (small) loss.
I did meet some helpful older folks - living up the hill. They just prattled off names of people who they'd known, who'd left (for the US, Australia, etc.) and I couldnt make heads or tails of it. I cursed myself for not having a tape- or video-recorder: those old folks (one biddy living in a stone shack!) are the last living link to that past, obviously. That was the greatest failure: plan ahead for these things!
I know it may not be much help for people looking for US Revolutionary War ancestors (DAR?), and downsize any glorious dreams of discovering your kingdom, but I hope my little experience helps others doing amateur fieldwork ... it is beautiful countryside; bring a good pair of hiking shoes, and take nightwalks: you can almost hear your ancestors' talking, then!
You might enjoy a leisurely two week vacation in Malin Head with the kids - maybe 'more happens' in the summertime? Otherwise, it's pretty sleepy: I hitched a ride in the bucket of a tractor!