Was John Edward Hanratty your great grandfather?If your grandfather, Edward Hanratty, was born around 1880, then John Edward should have been born around 1855 to 1860.Try www.familysearch.org and click on search.Select international genealogical file, type in his name, then select British isles and in next box, pick Ireland and click search.In the meantime, I'll do the same.
Anyway, there are a lot of reasons why the Hanrattys changed the spelling of their names.They could have been getting away from religious conflicts, disassociate themselves as Irish; family conflicts; census taker misspelling; immigration authorities not writing Hanratty correctly; illiteracy; escape from persecution; name changes from generation to generation; etc.My great aunt, Margaret Hanratty's tombstone is inscribed Margaret Hanretty.I wonder who in the hell was she mad at?Pat, this is just a guess.Are you from Virginia, and if so, have your descendants live in that state since arrival from Ireland?As you know, Virginia, since colonial time, has been predominantly Scot-Irish, and nativists or native Americans formented anti-Irish sentiment in the 18th. century there.It was everywhere as well.Thus, the Hanrattys probably sought to change their names to sound more English or British.
There's still time before you leave for Ireland.I will the next time give you names and addresses where you can do researches.Some places are expensive and outrageous so that's why you should talk to the locals.
Until then, keep in touch.Take care.Oh! By the way, why are there so many Henrettys in Virginia?Take care.