I see you are in Toronto from your avatar but perhaps the US-based Irish Genealogical society would be of help to you. Here is the homepage link:
If you hit "Research" on the top toolbar, you will find multiple sub-links with useful tips, facts and other good info to help you begin your search.
You could also write to the Irish embassy or consulate in Canada and ask them to put you in touch with Irish-organisations there who may have some people involved in genealogy studies.
If your family migrated to America around the famine times, chances are that their names will be on the records of Ellis island, so you could google that and see if you can find out more.
There was last year, the launch of a new initiative to give people access to database records for Irish immigrants so you might be able to find out more about that too. I am not sure who sponsors that initiative but try searching via the link above, you may turn up something.
In Ireland there are plenty of professional geanealogists who can assist in searches and will be best placed to advise you on same. They are professionals so there is a cost for their servies. it depends how specific you want a search to be. If you are looking simply for the areas where your family came from, you can find that easily on the web by googling your family names as above. If you want to try to trace ancestors, then that is a much more detailed and difficult task. If you have information about the towns from which your family came and the full names or birthdates or ages of certain ancestors, that will help alot as you can use that information to narrow your search to the parishes, townlands and baronies from which your relatives stemmed.
In Ireland, the National Library of Ireland
contains alot of genealogical information. It stores copies of parish records, land records, cenus records, old area maps, etc. and has lists of private researches who can search for you (fee based).
This is a link to the genealogy section. Read especially the info on "getting started" and "list of sources" (bottom of page) for an idea as to what types of info may be available to you.
If you go to the Cork-Dublin sublink you can see what parish records/ birth-marriage dates they have there and the corresponding microfilm on which the records are. Note: the library does not provide copies of the microfilm transcripts. Usually you have to either visit the library and copy the info you want or you write to the Bishop of the Diocese for access to parish records and transcripts.
Here is a link to more genealogy info and at the bottom of this page you will find further "Click here" links to professional researchers should you wish to pursue it.
Also, here's a link from a discussion board with some info on County Cork and genealogical searches:
http://boards.rootsweb.com/localities.b ... .1/mb.ashx
(Focus on this bit)
"County Cork is the largest county in Ireland area-wise. Here's a link to the Roman Catholic records for all the parishes in County Cork and again if you click on each parish map you'll see the dates of the records and how they can be accessed....Any Roman Catholic parishes in County Cork that are part of the Diocese of Kerry require permission from the Bishop of Kerry to look at the microfilmed records."
http://www.ireland.com/ancestor/browse/ ... corkrc.htm
I think, realistically, given that you are in Canada, if you really want to begin a serious search, it would be good to employ a professional genealogist because they will have the experience needed to do a proper search. You can do a certain amount yourself - looking up your family names on the web, going to Irish Ancestry websites and following the links there. But it is quite a difficult task to trace specific persons due to loss of many 19th C census records in a fire during the uprising and civil war here, and also by virtue of the fact that the same names occur in families in different places and with frequency(because of familial naming traditions) that it can be quite hard to differentiate who's who.
So just to be aware that it's not an easy task and at times can be disheartening. That should not discourage you, but just to make you aware that you have to set your expectations not too high so that you won't be disappointed. The more info you can provide on your family (personal and surnames, locations where they came from..etc..that will help alot. whereas "the Murphy's in Cork" is far too general.)
As regards superstitions and heritage. It was not just "mother to daughter" tranmission but pretty much every aspect of rural and religious life affected everyone in Ireland - males and females alike, because it was simply the manner and custom of how they lived. There are plenty of books on Irish superstitions and customs, so any search of a good bookstore under the Folklore section should turn up some for you. Failing that you can search around the web if you are interested in irish folklore and superstitions, you should be able to find lots of book references and information posted.
Though things have become much more secular and commercialised in the past 50 years in Ireland, there are of course many old superstitions and customs still surviving. Not to the same degree as in the past when many aspects of life were ritualized and enriched by custom and tradition, but indeed you'll still find few older people who would dare to plough down a fairy rath or take wood from the trees on it. The practice of veneration at holy wells still continues, as do massive pilgrimages to sacred mountains and sites at various times of the year.
Best wishes on your researches,