It would be hard to find anything more confusing than this record of Matthew Culligan-Hogan's ""search for the quintessential spirit"" of the Irish. Formerly executive vice president of NBC and president of Curtis Publishing, Culligan says he was inspired by the death of his mother, by a meeting with President Kennedy--the O'Kennedys and the O'Hogans were old enemies--and by his anger over the ""despair"" in Leon Uris' ""astoundingly successful"" book on Ireland, Trinity. Culligan determines to tell the story of the Irish spirit by finding his ancestor, the legendary Galloping Hogan, ""for only in the spirit of the Irish could the long-term solution to the problems in the north be found"" (whatever that means). There follow visits with assorted Hogans in Ireland, days in a monastery going over old records, travels through France and Portugal, and an unsuccessful encounter with Vatican bureaucracy. Scattered through this travelogue are snatches of English history and questionable analysis: Culligan mourns ""the tragedy of Ireland being forty miles off the coast of England rather than the same distance off the coast of France or Portugal,"" The elusive Galloping Hogan? Apparently mother was right all along.