From Omagh to the New World in an afternoon.

Tyrone has at least one other Famous Son (apart from my father; left 50 years ago and still has the accent). One Thomas Mellon who was a judge and banker in mid 19th Century America, but came from Castletown near Omagh. His family home is part of , and possibly inspiration for, the Ulster American Folk Park in Tyrone. We were lucky enough to get a day out there in Easter week.

We've been before, and like a lot of living history sites it doesn't change much from visit to visit, but in this park's case that is part of the charm.

The park splits into two parts; the first part is like a brief history of Irish cottages; turf fires, limewashed walls, soda bread, dirt floors, thatched roofs and all. I love it precisely because it is so typically Irish.

The Mellon house has hens and ducks wandering around past old farm machinery and the dresser with its blue and white china that is so typical of the time. I couldn't help but think of this film as I wandered. (love how the trailer tells you the whole story, essentially)

As you travel to the mid-19th century, the cottages grow bigger until the famine hits. And the people move. Like Thomas Mellon and his family, thousands fled and sailed to America, desperate to start again.

The park takes you through an Irish street and onto a ship, shows you the crowded steerage conditions and explains why the ships were called coffin ships. Up to a sixth of all those who travelled died in the 1830's, a terrible state of affairs that was only improved when John Hughes, the Archbishop of New York who set the foundation stone for St Patrick's Catherdral, worked to improve the conditions and to coordinate the welcome of his fellow Irishmen to their 'American Dream.'

You can tell straight away that you are in America as a Red Indian towers over you in the general store. And the second half of the park takes you through the pioneer years of America, from log cabins to Pennsylvanian farmhouses in a series of house that showcase the frugality of the original American Dream.

 From trapping and bartering skins to patchwork to canning to rag rugs, the houses show that using every bit and saving every part were once desirable aptitudes in our world. *sigh* Fans of Little House (especially the books) will enjoy walking around and dreaming....

And because it was Easter Monday the park was well stocked with people bringing history to life. From the frontier's man to the blacksmith, from the mid-plains housewife to the musketeers firing their rifles with real cartridges made with real cartridge paper (see where the name comes from?)

But my favourites were the tinkers; a little camp with a goat and a tent, next to the caravan and with a little magic. I must find the poem about the caravan......

The video will be available on YouTube at my channel; search for Mr AngelJem!!!! Blogger won't upload it here!


  1. I want to go to the museum for a day out, looks so interesting.
    My dad loved Maureen O'Hara!
    Lisa x

  2. Fascinating post, Jem. I *love* "The Quiet Man". One of the "oldies but goodies" type of film. :o)

  3. That looks like a lovely place to visit. I like to tour historical/informational places like that. Quiet Man is a classic.

  4. It looks like a really brilliant museum, somewhere for kids and adults. Glad you had fun! x

  5. Thank you all! It is a really good place,probably overlooked because it's not Belfast or Dublin or the 'splendid' sights of the coastline, but I like it because it is not so grand, just rolling hills and mountains that are, well, ignored is a good phrase. People just don't think of it still unless they have relatives there!


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