The year I turned 10 years old my family lived in Scotland and England, as my Dad did sabbaticals there. That summer, Dad couldn't resist the chance to head over to IRELAND for a bit of ancestor hunting, and we tracked down MUCKALEE; the tiny KILKENNY village that his mother's ancestors were from. After various colourful encounters with the various colourful locals, all of whom we were probably related to in some way or other, we hooked up with the priest at the local church, where he pulled out some ancient parish registers. Lo and behold, Dad found an entry for his own ancestors' marriage (Brennan + Tobin) and a later entry that said they'd "departed for the colonies" (in the mid 1800s I think). At least for my Father's Mother's line, this is the KUNTA KINTE moment; hard evidence of our ancestors-zero who led my family to the New World, and finding that evidence was a personal triumph for Dad.
As for me, I was the only member of my family to kiss the Blarney Stone (in county Cork) and if you've ever had to suffer through all my windbaggery, that's the reason why– for it's said that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will get "the gift of gab". I remember very vividly being held by my legs by a burly surly Irishman as I hung out of Blarney Castle backwards, to kiss that old greasy stone on the castle wall. Like all tourists who'd lined up to kiss the famous stone that day, I got an official "I kissed the Blarney Stone" certificate (which has long since disappeared). The punchline to this story came a few weeks ago, when my Irish friends Greg and Louise visited San Francisco. I shared this memory of my own personal childhood triumph in Ireland, the seat of my Celtic ancestors, and was told with great glee: "Ah yes, the Blarney Stone. For a laugh, the locals around Blarney Castle piss on it after hours."
Éirinn go Brách!!