of Londonderry near the town of Omagh is the very interesting Ulster
American Folk Park. It presents the story of emigration from rural
Ireland to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Indoor exhibits
tell the story of life in Ireland and provide details of the conditions
that led so many to make the treacherous journey to the US and Canada.
are reconstructions of an Irish village complete with thatched roof
cottages, churches, a forge, schoolhouse, post office. An interesting
display showed how peat or turf is dug and dried before being used
full scale replica of an emigrant ship in a dockside area features
original buildings from the ports of Derry and Belfast. It was appalling
to go inside the ship and realize the conditions the immigrants
lived in during their crossing to the new world. Bunks no bigger
than a twin size bed slept four on a rotating basis. And of course
sanitation was horrible.
After passing through the ship, the other side of the park contains
a reproduction of a typical early American town that the immigrants
In addition to the wonderful exhibits in the park, there is also
a research library where they are compiling records of the immigrations
including passenger lists from the immigrant ships. Currently they
have records covering 1800-1850. Our Grandfather emigrated in 1909
so we did not find a listing for him but we were able to find a
map with the parish where he was born. We discovered it was near
the town of Limavady which we had passed thru on our way to Londonderry.
If only we had known!
To see more photos from the park, go to the Ireland
leaving the folk park we headed for Castlebar in County Mayo which
would be our stop for the night. But first we stopped in Carrick-on-Shannon
for a boat ride on the Shannon River.
The Shannon is the longest river in Ireland. It winds its way for
over 200 miles. The section we were on was through low farmland
with banks covered in the reeds that are used for thatching sod
roofs. Our cruise included entertainment by an Irish folk singer
while dining on delicious tea and scones. A very pleasant break
from the bus ride.
are now back in the Republic of Ireland. Distance and mileage signs
are now in kilometers. Road signs are in English and Gaelic. And
money is in Euro. The other major difference is that in the Republic
there is no smoking in the pubs! Ireland is the first country in
Europe to have that ban and we loved it.
hotel for the night was The Breaffy House Hotel, an elegant old
baronial mansion set amongst 87 acres of gardens and walkways. It
even had a 9 hole miniature golf course. Unfortunately, it was made
of deteriorated cement which made the ball skip all over the place.
But we had alot of laughs trying to play.