Ulster American Folk Park - Omagh
Ulster American Folk Park is an open air museum, which is located just outside of the town Omagh in County Tyrone. It centres on the world famous story of Irish emigration, when millions of people left Ulster in the 18th and 19th centuries, told through interactive exhibits all set out over forty acres. It takes visitors back in time as well as transporting them from the Old World (Ulster) to the New World (North America) on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship. The park is well laid out and the story is told in an interesting and intriguing format.
The park was established around the boyhood home of Judge Thomas Mellon, a lawyer and founder of the Pittsburgh Mellon banking dynasty, it still stands in its original location. He was one of the success stories of those who left for a better land in the North America. The park focuses on the various reasons for migration at this time and what became of the two million people who left, advising on these who did well and those who did not. Many of the emigrants endured a desolate life particularly the indentured servants and the 15,000 Irish vagrants and convicts exported at this time. It shows how these resilient people adapted to this new and unfamiliar environment.
The park contains in excess of thirty buildings, some of them are original and some replicas. There are thatched cottages of Ulster as well as settler homesteads, log cabins, including that of John Joseph Hughes, the first Catholic Archbishop of New York, as well as an Ulster street and an American street, shipped over and reconstructed here, alongside churches, a schoolhouse and a forge. Guides in period costume wander around further adding to the authenticity, they are happy to chat and answer any questions whilst relating tales of everyday life and customs. Visitors can also see some craft displays and day to day tasks being carried out by those who would have lived in this period including, blacksmithing, candle-dipping, corn craft, embroidery, spinning and printing . Additionally visitors can taste samples of traditional Irish and Pioneer American foods as they wander around the museum, all the food is produced on the hearths and griddles of the buildings.
Also to be found here are agricultural displays and a variety of farm animals. Located in the museum Visitor Centre is a cafe and shop.
Ulster American Folk Park opens seven days a week from July to August. The remainder of the year it is open Tuesday to Sunday and only opens on a Monday if it is a bank holiday. Throughout the year they run a busy schedule of events and exhibitions.
It is a excellent example of living history, and really brings the lives of the people at this period in time to life, as well as recreating the conditions experienced by these emigrants before, during and following the grueling crossing. A great day out for all ages.