A Visit to the Ulster-American Folk Park

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    The Chemist's Shop

    The Chemist's Shop
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    A few miles outside of Omagh the Ulster American Folk Park takes you back in time. Ulstermen were a substantial part of the Irish immigration into the USA and the museum complex explores the various reasons for this migration - which started long before the Great Famine. Adventurers and dissenters, the rich and the poor, crossed the Atlantic to pursue their individual American dream. Some with immense success - the number of Ulster-Scots signatories of the Declaration of Independence is one indicator.

    The real strength of the Ulster American Folk Park, however, lies in the recreation of the actual experience of migration. Visitors are first guided through parts of an Irish village, consisting of smallholdings, cottages, churches and a blacksmith's workshop. Costumed guides are at hand and only too willing to talk and demonstrate their skills.

    Enter the chemist and you will meet a friendly attendant, ready to help you with any ailmnent you might have. As this shop is situated quite...MORE near the harbor, something against sea-sicknees might be called for. How about that pinkish potion on the top shelf?

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    The Mellon Homestead

    The Mellon Homestead
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    This is the childhood home of Thomas Mellon, born in the humble homestead in February 1813 - five years later Mellon's family emigrated to Pennsylvania, where he later started a legal and financial career. The Mellon Bank had its origins at this cottage's turf fire ...

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    Having a Song and Dance

    Having a Song and Dance
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Dioramas explore the daily life and hardships of the Ulster emigrants - but also depict their ways of having a good time, like this representation of a rural feast.

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    A New Home in the New World

    A New Home in the New World
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Not many immigrants could afford a large home when they first arrived in "Americay", sometimes with only the shirt upon their back. But homesteads like these were not out of reach after a few years of dedicated labor.

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    Americana Like in the Movies

    Americana Like in the Movies
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    You'll be gorgiven if you thought this was a still from "The Little House on the Prairie" - the recreation of a rural settlement in the US is as realistic as it can get.

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    An Ulster Forge

    An Ulster Forge
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Not only are the old buildings of Ulster faithfully recreated in the Folk Park, they are also worked in most of the time - in this forge you may see the blacksmith working. Going at it with tongs and hammers, as they say.

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    A General Store in the USA

    A General Store in the USA
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Immigrants arrive into typical urban streets in the US part of the park ... brickwork, street-lighting and a general store that must have ssemd like an epiphany to the Irish, most of which came from a very rural background.

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    A First Home, Built of Logs

    A First Home, Built of Logs
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Most immigrants would have quickly erected a first, small and practical homestead, still similar to Irish cottages in its layout. But the similarity does not extend to the building materials. Logs were left over from clearing the land, so why break you back breaking stones?

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    Just for the First Night ...

    Just for the First Night ...
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Before setting out westward, most immegrants would have spent a night or two in a US harbor town. Were prices were usually high. This landlady offers a bargain with dodgy spelling ... or did they really have the internet in those times>

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    To the Manor Born ...

    To the Manor Born ...
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Though most emigrants were from the lower strata of society, not everyone setting out for the "Neew World" was poor - this manor is a reminder that even landowners sold up and went west, most of them buying considerably larger estates there.

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    Time for a Last Postcard

    Time for a Last Postcard
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Strictly speaking this rural post office would be an anachronism for many emigrants - Ulstermen and -women started moving to the USA long before the Royal Mail appeared. Actually quite a few arrived before the USA came into being. Becoming signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

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    The Village School

    The Village School
    ••• © 2005 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The alma mater of Ulster immigrants often was the village school - and many did not even learn how to read wnd write, this being deemed unnecessary for a "career" in farming.