Ulster American Folk Park
|Ulster American Folk Park|
|Location||Castletown, Northern Ireland|
|Visitors||165,000 between April '07 and March '08|
The Ulster American Folk Park is an open-air museum in Castletown, just outside Omagh, in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The Park explores the historical link between Ulster and America, focusing particularly on the lifestyle and experiences of those immigrants who sailed from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is one of the four museums included in National Museums Northern Ireland.
Contained within the park are around thirty buildings — some recreations, some painstakingly-restored originals. There are agricultural displays and animals on site, and visitors are offered samples of various local foods such as smoked salmon and bread, freshly cooked in the cottages that line the route of Park tours.
The park is open throughout the year, excluding some public holidays.
The museum is themed, with volunteers dressed in period costume, often demonstrating techniques used in day-to-day tasks and occupational skills such as bread making, cooking, arts and crafts, embroidery, spinning, printing and so on. Events are marked which cover the culture of both the New World and the Old World, such as U.S. Independence Day and Halloween. Festivals often take place including Saint Patrick's Day, Appalachian, Bluegrass, Irish folk music and dancing demonstrations. Exhibitions are often scheduled to promote cultural awareness, such as Hands Across the Border.
The Ulster-American theme is highlighted by the layout and the information relayed, such as the fact that over two million people left Ulster for North America between the years 1700 and 1900.
Research and education
The entrance section includes accommodation for up to forty-six people, a restaurant, a visitors' information centre and the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS). The CMS has an attached library and offers, in conjunction with the University of Ulster and Queen's University of Belfast, postgraduate and undergraduate courses, as well as tailored and shorter courses; all of the courses concern the study of Irish migration from 1600 to the present day. The specialist research library contains some 10,000 volumes, over 50 periodicals, maps, audio-visual material, and a collection of primary source documents (the Irish Emigration Database) which is searchable on computer. The Centre is open to visitors during basic office hours, and closed during public holidays.
The Old World region includes whole streets of original houses, an original printing press, a bank, an old police barracks, the old Castletown National School, and two churches. Central to this region is the boyhood home of Thomas Mellon, judge and founder of the Pittsburgh banking dynasty.
Some of the two-up, two-down houses in one of the reconstructed streets in the Park were transported in their entirety from Sandy Row, off the Donegall Road in Belfast, and other buildings have been transported from elsewhere in the province.
Linking the Old and New World sections of the park is the Ship and Dockside gallery, which includes the Brig Union, a full-size replica of an immigrant sailing ship.
The historic atmosphere continues in the New World area, which features a recreated old American street with a tinsmith display and the original interior of a Virginia General Store. Beyond the street, the frontier journey begins with a stop at the 1720s Fulton stone house, painstakingly dismantled in Lancaster County Pennsylvania and rebuild here.Other original frontier houses that you come across in a journey through the 'America' part of the museum is an Appalachian log house from Washington county west Pennsylvania, the 1830 West Virginia home of Richard McCallister removed from Cabell county, and soon to be opened, a brick plantation house built by Francis Rogan in the early 1800s near Nashville in Tennessee.
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
- Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
- Ulster Museum
- Ulster Scots people
- National Museums Northern Ireland
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