Ulster-American Folk Park

When you book a tour of Ireland ….we at Ireland Luxury Tours often visit the West of the province of Ulster,,,this allows us to build in a visit to the Ulster American Folk Park.

A visit to the Ulster American Folk Park may also be possible from a cruise ship in Belfast depending on your time in port.

The living history park near Omagh, County Tyrone, has been set up with a generous endowment by the Mellon banking magnates who founded Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Thomas Mellon left Ulster in 1818 with his family and became vastly prosperous.  The park has been constructed in the peaty bogs around his birthplace at Camphill, a modest, whitewashed cottage, and traces the progress of those early Ulster emigres from the Old World to the New.

A guided walk takes visitors from a large reception and exhibition centre through birch groves.  In the first section, reconstructed buildings create the atmosphere of a typical 18th-century Ulster village, with a blacksmith’s forge, a weaver’s cottage, and a dour Presbyterian meeting house where interminable sermons were preached.  Costumed staff cook up griddle cakes over open peat fires, spin wool and organise ‘lessons’ in the village school (quill pens are used).

One of the more imposing buildings is Hugh Campbell’s house, where extracts from the journal of 1818, written during his emigration voyage, can be read: ‘During the night every moveable in the ship was put in motion by the great heaving…buckets full of all kinds of filth were hurled in the greatest confusion through the steerage to the great offence of our smelling organs!’  On 12 July he wrote, ‘This day the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne was commemorated by a certain part of our passengers to the no small annoyance of another part,’ which suggests that not much has changed in the intervening years.

Visitors then pass through the Emigration Gallery, a replica emigration ship (complete with sound effects of creaking timbers and roaring seas) and on to the New World, where typical log barns, wagons and farmsteads of the early settlers can be seen.  Of its type this theme park is highly successful and has a coherent and authentic ring.