For those of you with Irish ancestors, Walter Macken's acclaimed Irish Trilogy will help you understand their struggles for daily survival and against the political and religious oppression of the English Protestants. The three books are set in the mid-17th, mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Traumatic events described in each of them triggered emigration that may account for why you were not born in Ireland. It helps to read the books in order as they supposedly follow several generations of one Irish family. However, that is not necessary as the characters do not continue from one book to another.
Seek The Fair Land begins in 1641 amidst the Cromwellian invasion. It paints a grim picture of the brutality that was used to try to "convert" the Catholic Irish under threat of torture and/or death. This depiction seems to indicate that the Nazis really didn't invent much new during the Holocaust.
The Silent People picks up the narrative in the 19th century as the Potato Famine of the late 1840s approachs and Irish representation in the British political process begins to try to make basic reforms in the Irish social and economic systems. The Irish population had exploded in the early decades of that century but would soon be reduced by one half by the combination of starvation, disease and emigration that resulted from the almost total failure of potato crops in consecutive years as the result of a blight that attacked the crops.
The Scorching Wind continues the story in the early 20th century as families were torn apart in the Irish fight for freedom from Britain.
Taken together these three books will help you to understand the forces that shaped the daily lives of your Irish ancestors.