Welcome to a little piece of Ireland, so to speak. Of course one can embrace Ireland and things Irish from far afield as well as by journeying there oneself. My recommended selections herein (concerning books, films, & music) thus cater to both sorts of folks. Whichever category you might place yourself in, I would hope you would be familiar with the wonderful story of How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History) It is a brief work (218 pages) detailing how Irish monk scribes---of a land just learning to read & write itself---took up the great labor of copying all of Western literature as the Roman Empire fell, as barbarians looted artifacts and burned books. The Irish thus preserved for history much of Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian cultures that would have been lost to us otherwise. It's a "must read" for those interested in Ireland either way, but particularly so for someone planning to visit Ireland. When I, for instance, visited numerous (often ruined) monasteries and abbeys around Ireland (my favourite being in Cashel, incidentally), I couldn't help but marvel at the substance of this book and contemplate the people involved who inhabited such structures.
The guide book I took along was also invaluable, although of course in a different manner. One should not go abroad without carefully choosing a guidebook focused on your destination. I favor 2 branded choices: "Rough Guides" & "Lonely Planet" guidebook series, both of which cater to independent travelers. For Ireland I'd particularly recommend The Rough Guide to Ireland. A great accompaniment to one of the above guides---especially for those of you who prefer something highly visual (OR for those not overly constrained by a budget for such a trip, OR for those going on a guided tour)---would be DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Ireland. (NULL Lonely Planet Ireland (Country Travel Guide) is OK, but you'd be better off with those mentioned above.) For abbey visits especially consider reading or perhaps listening to The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? ( Expanded Edition) for related inspiration.
Some films which would be of interest to one interested in Ireland, whether you visit or not:
Veronica Guerin; a very well done biopic on the story of a real-life journalist whose example was largely responsible for helping Ireland to get tough on criminals & thereby overcome previously endemic drug trafficking and violence. Cate Blanchett plays the heroine herein to great effect.
A great Irish TV program (from the 1990s) is now available on DVD (& some PBS systems at times). It concerns life in a small fictional town in Ireland named Ballykissangel - Complete Series One & is a folksy---part dramatic, part amusing---soap opera of sorts (a far more detailed review by me of this program can be accessed by clicking on its title & scrolling down.) (Ballykissangel - Complete Series Five is the latest year available now.)