07 October 2011


     This topic demonstrates one of the limitations of the Internet. The Web allows us to see, and sometimes hear, but we cannot touch or smell or taste Ireland while surfing the Internet. Perhaps one day our computers will come equipped with those scratch and sniff strips or some sort of odor emitting device like the movie theatres had for those John Waters' films.
      Ireland is a feast for the senses, which is one reason family historians should make the trip, even if they have not found their ancestor's location. Simply smelling the earth, tasting the black pudding, or touching the stone walls can provide your senses with impressions of an ancestor's life and experiences.
     On my first trip to Ireland in 1995, I noticed the smells.Wet earth and wet grass and wet hay. Peat burning on the hearth in County Clare. Musty castles. Cow dung. More cow dung. Beer and ale suds. Even food smelled differently. I could smell the heavy, pungent scent of the farm fresh streaky bacon, puddings, and sausages long before I entered the breakfast room.
     Even familiar food had a different taste. Ketchup was more tangy. The bacon had an earthy flavor, far stronger than the packaged brands I bought in South Jersey. While Americans usually think of corned beef and cabbage as Irish foods, my second thought of food in Ireland (my first, of course, is black pudding) is salmon. I ate salmon everywhere--smoked salmon with brown bread, salmon with pasta, salmon in soup. Even lox on a bagel in a Jewish deli now reminds me of Ireland.
     Smelling and tasting Ireland brought my ancestors to life in a way no microfilmed record ever could!