The Ulster American Folk Park is an open air museum located north of Omagh in County Tyrone. The museum tells the story of Irish emigration to America in the 18th and 19th century. At that time, over two million from Ulster Province left their land for America. The museum is a part of Northern Ireland’s National Museums and Galleries.
The park contains restored buildings moved to the site from various locations in Ireland as well as replicas of buildings that immigrants would have occupied in America. After learning about reasons for emigration in the Emigrants Exhibition Hall, visitors follow a path outside through the “Old World” portion of the museum. They will first pass a single room cabin, typical of the dwelling of the poor in the pre-famine years, then a forge and weaver’s cottage before encountering a Presbyterian meeting house and Catholic Mass house. Guides dressed in period costumes can be found in some building to demonstrate trades and answer questions. The Mellon Homestead, birthplace of Thomas Mellon who emigrated in 1818 and became a successful lawyer and founder of Mellon Bank in Pennsylvania, is located on its original site in the park. Also, the Irish homes of the Campbell brothers (settled in St. Louis) and Archbishop John Joseph Hughes (first Catholic archbishop of New York) were re-located to the park. The Castletown National School and the Montjoy Post Office from County Tyrone were also re-located to the Old World section of the park. Visitors stroll through a typical street in an Ulster port city before entering a full-sized replica of a famine-era emigrant sailing ship.
Upon leaving the ship, the visitors find themselves on a typical street representative of an American port city such as Boston or Baltimore. The visitors are now in the “New World” and soon encounters buildings such as the log cabins and log farmhouses of early emigrants. In addition to the American dwellings of the Mellons and Cunninghams, the stone house of Sam Fulton was moved to the park from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Sam Fulton emigrated to America from County Donegal in 1724 and settled in Donegal Springs, Pennsylvania.
The strong connection between Ulster and Pennsylvania is apparent in the folk museum. If you visit Ireland, please consider visiting the Ulster-American Folk Museum. It is in Castletown, County Tyrone just north of Omagh. Visit its website at: