Interesting post from Doxos (via Dylan) on the infinite distance between the Irish and the Irish-American. Alas, perhaps only landscape and songs like Kevin Barry remain. If I went back to the olde sod, I would never go to Dublin. I would go to Belfast and Northern Ireland where perhaps vestiges of yesterday can be found. At best, touring can be like time travel; at worst the homogenizing of culture and self-consciousness that the tourist trade induces makes it unpalatable. Truly foreign cultures become more attractive, albeit more deadly. A visit to say Damascus or Baghdad would be a real treat because it is there we can find a difference (at the cost of many of them hating your guts, a small price to pay). Certainly my yen to travel has decreased steadily as I've approached middle-age.
A WASPish English professor at school raved about how strange it is that whites want to go to England or Ireland and blacks to Africa and Asians to Asia. He was a connoisuer of Japanese culture and constantly preached the gospel of learning about and traveling to truly "other" countries.