Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
Ulstèr Fowk an Convoyin Museum[1]
Established 1967
Location Cultra, Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°39′02″N 5°47′55″W / 54.6506°N 5.7986°W / 54.6506; -5.7986
Website www.uftm.org.uk

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is situated in Cultra, Northern Ireland, about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) east of the city of Belfast. It comprises two separate museums, the Folk Museum and the Transport Museum. The Folk Museum endeavours to illustrate the way of life and traditions of the people in Northern Ireland, past and present, while the Transport Museum explores and exhibits methods of transport by land, sea and air, past and present. The museum ranks among Ireland's foremost visitor attractions and is a former Irish Museum of the Year.[2] It is one of four museums included in National Museums Northern Ireland.[3][4]


Created by an act of parliament in 1958, the Folk Museum was created to preserve a rural way of life in danger of disappearing forever due to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation in Northern Ireland. The site the museum occupies was formally the Estate of Sir Robert Kennedy, and was acquired in 1961, with the museum opening to the public for the first time three years later in 1964. In 1967, the Folk Museum merged with the Belfast Transport Museum, to form the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. The museum's Rail and Road Galleries were opened in 1993 and subsequently expanded in 1996. In 1998, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum merged with the Ulster Museum and the Ulster-American Folk Park [3] to form the National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, now National Museums Northern Ireland.

The Folk Museum[edit]

The Folk Museum houses a variety of old buildings and dwellings which have been collected from various parts of Ireland and rebuilt in the grounds of the museum, brick by brick. 170 acres (0.69 km2) are devoted to illustrating the rural way of life in the early 20th century, and visitors can stroll through a recreation of the period's countryside complete with farms, cottages, crops, livestock, and visit a typical Ulster town of the time called "Ballycultra", featuring shops, churches, and both terraced and larger housing and a Tea room run by Eurest Services. Eurest are a sub division of the Compass Catering Service. Regular activities include open hearth cooking, printing, needlework, and traditional Irish crafts demonstrations. The allocation of a considerable sum of lottery money has enabled the museum to build a large outhouse in the centre of Ballycultra town. This new structure houses unusual relics from Ulster's past, such as an unusual waffle iron from the mid-19th century, an old 'poteen' distillery from Portmore and the first twin axle bicycle ever seen in Ireland. A little more offbeat is the 'Worlds Largest Sausage', a 17-foot-long (5.2 m) banger, the creation of Newtownards man Seamus McTavish. All these new developments have aided UFTM in developing a new visitor base and have gained the site international recognition.

Indoors, the Folk Galleries feature a number of temporary exhibitions. These have included They Love Music Mightily, an exhibition featuring contemporary recordings of Irish traditional music, and Meet the Victorians, a "lively and interesting exhibition" focusing on aspects of Victorian life.[5]

The Museum is the holder of Northern Ireland's main film, photographic, television and sound archives. The Museum holds the BBC Northern Ireland archive of radio and television programmes, and also possesses over 2,000 hours of sound material broadcast between 1972 and 2002 by the Irish language radio station RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, from its studios in Derrybeg, County Donegal. The museum also maintains an archive of Ulster dialects, and a large library containing over 15,000 books and periodicals. The archives and library are open to the public during office hours.

The Transport Museum[edit]

The Transport Museum houses an extensive transport collection, and endeavours to tell the story of transport in Ireland, from its early history to the modern era. It is the largest railway collection in Ireland.[6] Attractions in the grounds themselves include a model railway operated by the Model Engineers Society of Northern Ireland, and the 120 ton steel schooner Result. Recent additions to the collection include a full set of Stanley Woods racing memorabilia, and two of his bikes. Also on display is a Rex McCandless vehicle and an early Formula 1 racing car.

Great Southern Railways No. 800 Maeḋḃ, 2006

The Irish Railway Collection tells the story of over 150 years of railway history. Steam locomotives, passenger carriages and goods wagons are combined with extensive railway memorabilia, interactive displays and visitor facilities. One of the collection's main attractions is Great Southern Railways Class 800 locomotive No. 800 Maeḋḃ, one of the three largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever to be built and run in Ireland.[7] Alongside the Irish Railway Collection are the new Road Transport Galleries which boast a large collection of vehicles ranging from cycles and motorcycles to trams, buses, and cars. One of its most famous attractions is a De Lorean DMC-12 car, the model made famous by the Back to the Future trilogy, and manufactured by the De Lorean Motor Company in Belfast. The infamous 'Paper Car' resides in the main auto transport gallery. This ingenious (some say mad) creation is a replica of a Fiat Panda made entirely from old issues of The Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News. A cross community effort, this car was a curiosity that made headlines in the 1990s. The car was black and white and red all over, apart from the windows. It was cited[citation needed] as an inspiration for Skoda and their recent Cake advertising campaign.

The museum boasts a permanent Titanic exhibition, documenting the construction, voyage, and eventual sinking of the ill-fated vessel. The ship has long been associated with Northern Ireland, as it was constructed in the Harland and Wolff shipyards, just a few miles from the museum. The newly refurbished Titanic exhibition, tying in with the Folk museum's 'Titanic Trail' is titled TITANICa.[8]

Another little known fact of which there are examples in the museum is that the pogo stick was invented in Comber County down. Previously used by local potato farmers to make holes for planting their seed it was later developed by local inventor Archibald Springer who saw potential for its use as a mode of transport and sporting novelty. Another exhibition at the Transport Museum is X2: Flight Experience, developed in partnership with Bombardier Aerospace, owners of the Belfast-based aerospace company Short Brothers. Also on display at the museum is the Shorts manufactured Short SC.1, an experimental vertical take-off aeroplane, only two of which were ever produced. The example in the museum, XG905, crashed in 1963, ending up upside down and killing its pilot. It was, however, repaired and flown again before eventually being preserved by the museum.[9]

Railway Connection for Visitors[edit]

Cultra railway station on the Belfast-Bangor railway line provides connections to Sydenham, Belfast Central and Great Victoria Street, Portadown and Newry in one direction and to Bangor in the other direction.

See also[edit]

Other museums[edit]


  1. ^ Leevin in tha day o Quaen Victoria Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
  2. ^ Annual Report 2004, The Heritage Council, p. 24, retrieved 8 July 2008 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ entertainment.ie website, Meet the Victorians, retrieved 8 July 2008 
  6. ^ Visit Northern Ireland website, Ulster folk and Transport Museum Holywood, retrieved 8 July 2008 
  7. ^ Ulster Folk & Transport Museum : Learning : Schools And Colleges : Transport Galleries : Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland
  8. ^ "TITANICa: The Exhibition". Ulster Folk & Transport Museum. National Museums Northern Ireland. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  9. ^ WingWeb.co.uk, The full story of the Harrier "Jump-Jet" Part One, retrieved 8 July 2008 

External links[edit]