If you are using the barley (which you should do if you want a more authentic Irish country stew), cook it for 20 minutes in 3 cups of lamb or beef stock. You'll add to the stew later.
Serve with mashed potatoes (if desired) and Irish soda bread
Cut off some of the parsley leaves and chop enough to make 2 tablespoons; reserve.
Cut off some parsley stems, and tie them into a bundle with rosemary,thyme surrounding the star anise and the bay leaf; reserve.
Toss the meat with salt and flour, and brown the meat in a little oil. Remove and reserve, shaking off excess.
Add the pearl onion, and brown. Once brown, add brown sugar and caramelize, scraping up meaty bits.
Add the garlic, carrots, parsnips and celery to the pan and sauté, tossing to coat with the fat.
Add the Guinness and deglaze, scraping up any caramelized meat juices.
Addthe barley if you're using it.
Add enough stock to barely cover, cook over medium heat until just boiling, then reduce heat to very low and simmer 2 - 3 hours, until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. If you like, you can put into oven at 325 for 1.5 hours.
Check seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat, stir in parsley.
Serve with plenty of Irish brown or white soda bread, and more Guinness if you like.