I have learned so much more history since I started my genealogy research than I can remember learning in school. This Irish Famine in 1845-49 was a statistic to me in school, but has become real as I find family ancestors that lived through it.
The suppressed league or the Irish National Land League is another piece of history that has become real. James Whelan was an active part of the league proclaiming his land as poisoned in the newspapers and helping to fight for the revisions to the Irish landholdings laws that kept tenant farmers from owning their own land.
This was just one of the many interesting tidbits I found while researching James Whelan and his family as they lived in Oldcourt, Wexford, Ireland.