The Ulster American Folk Park is an open air living history museum in Omagh. It depicts the story of brave immigrants who made the journey across the Atlantic to America hundreds of years ago. You can learn about what life was like on both sides of the ocean and the perils faced on the ships.
We planned a trip here to break up our journey from Enniskillen up to Portrush. We love a bit of living history, plus the Titanic exhibition was something we were really keen to see. On arrival at the museum it began to bucket down with rain so we headed inside first to do the indoor exhibitions.
The Titanic Exhibition is absolutely fascinating. It is jam-packed with memorabilia, original artifacts and personal stories. We spent ages reading everything as it was so interesting. There were videos to watch and the children enjoyed dressing up in costumes from the era.
The next exhibition focuses on immigration. Over 2 million people left in the 1700s and 1800s. Why? Famine, the promise of a better life…… This exhibition starts with what life was like in Ireland during that time. It then leads you through the reasons why so many chose to migrate to America, the journey they faced and what they were met by when they got there.
After wandering through the exhibitions indoors it was time to venture outside. The Ulster American Folk Park is set out in the countryside with original buildings featuring thatched cottages and open fires. Each building has its own story and shows what life was like in Ireland. The open fires are lovely to sit by in a rocking chair and enjoy the warmth while you take in your surroundings.
Many of the buildings have living characters in them who will show you their day to day lives. We saw a lady cooking on an open fire in the kitchen and got to try some of the food she had cooked. It was such a lovely experience!
We also visited a blacksmith who talked us through what he was making. It was fascinating seeing him work.
One of the highlights of our visit was meeting the school mistress and writing on a piece of slate. The mistress told us all about the education system and answered lots of questions from the kids. They found it fascinating!
As well as living history characters there are also living animals at the Ulster American Folk Park! The chickens wandering around the farmyard meant we truly felt like we had stepped back in time.
The next section of the park takes you through village shops and a cobbled street. You can visit the local pub, printing press and post office. They are full of memorabilia. Most of these places actually existed in villages years ago and you can read all about them as well as see genuine artifacts from the original buildings. The pub once stood in a village where we have relatives and they remember it well from their childhoods!
At this point your trip through Ireland comes to an end and you enter the port to experience travel on a ship to America like the Irish immigrants would have done years ago. We really enjoyed exploring the port and listening to the historian on the ship who told us about the perils of the long journey.
On leaving the ship the other side you arrive in America in a town where you can visit the general store. There is also a photography shop who will take your photo wearing period costume. A fun souvenir!
There are lots of different style buildings to explore on the American side of the park. These take you through the years up to fairly recent periods. It’s lovely to go inside and chat to living history characters about what life would have been like there. We came across a lady doing crochet in her kitchen and chatted for ages with her.
We spent the entire day at Ulster American Folk Park and really enjoyed it, despite the rain showers. There is a lovely cafe to get lunch and a big shop full of souvenirs. We would love to visit again and think this is a real hidden gem of a place. We highly recommend it!
Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted tickets to the Ulster American Folk Park in order to visit and do our review. However, all words, opinions and photos are that of my own.