Here's one of those episodes where disgruntled fans typically pointed when trying to indicate just how horrid the sixth season really was. They considered it a farce, our crew stuck on the holodeck in a bad parody of an Irish village. What the heck was the point?!?
The point might have eluded those guys, but "Spirit Folk" actually has a lot going for it. Continuity-wise, even, several. For one, it's a followup to "Fair Haven," the episode earlier in the season where this program debuted. No, not much more for Janeway to learn, but it's the latest obsession for the crew, the latest hangout, after Sandrine's and the Captain Proton adventures.
And who's to blame but Tm Paris and his trusted hanger-on, Harry Kim? In fact, that's this episode's real draw, that we get another Tom & Harry lark, which was a favorite if usually under-used plot for the series. From the start, they were an unlikely pair. Harry was an innocent, Tom was anything but. It was Harry's belief in Tom that helped turn the former convict around, and helped keep him there, no matter the subsequent obstacles. If Harry had any career frustrations, he only had to look at Tom to know these concerns were fairly spurious in comparison. Mostly they just liked to have a good time. Captain Proton was true nonsense compared to Fair Haven.
But Fair Haven was a testing ground for how far they could push each other, and that's what this one's really about. And for what it's worth, "Spirit Folk" is not the embarrassment you were led to believe.
franchise * series * essential * character
Memory Alpha summary.