Uster American Folk Park , Omagh

If you are Irish-American there is a good chance that your ancestors actually immigrated from Ulster – Ulstermen played an important role in the history of the United States. This park highlights the individual reasons for migration, from religious dissenters to the simply poor, and shows how they lived before and after crossing the Atlantic. Visitors are literally re-living the migrants’ experiences, up to and including crossing over to America on a tall ship.

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 and explains the various reasons for this migration – which , contrary to popular belief , actually started long before the Great Famine. Adventurers and dissenters, surprisingly some of the rich , and more obviously a lot of the poor, crossed the Atlantic to pursue their own individual American dreams. Some with immense success – the number of Ulster-Scots signatories of the Declaration of Independence is one indicator. Check this out ! …. you will be surprised.

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. This gives you a real flavour of what life was like when the decision to move to America was made. Costumed guides are at hand and only too willing to talk and demonstrate their skills. They also have some very interesting stories.

The park then comes to an end in a city street (complete with well-stocked shops , containing many origal items) leading down to a quay. Here a sailing ship awaits you, you board and see the conditions that the passengers sailed in….it is extremely well done … and when you get off again you are in America. Leaving the immigration shed you pass several American city dwellings until you are in the open countryside. Here several farmsteads are recreated with a loving eye for detail … down to typical crops like maize and pumpkins. This lets you see the conditions that the emigrates found when they arrived in America. Taking a gigantic u-turn you are finally heading back to the museum complex.

If you are an American with Irish roots on a tour of Ireland this park is very interesting.

If you are in Belfast on a cruise ship it is possible to see this park on a day tour out of Belfast.

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