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Ulster-American Folk Park

19th Century Weaver's CottageSouth 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. Mark checks out the sod roofOutdoors 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 for fuel.Pile of Turf/Peat dryingA 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 horribleInside Immigrant Ship. After passing through the ship, the other side of the park contains a reproduction of a typical early American town that the immigrants moved into.

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 Photo Gallery.

Shannon river cruiseAfter 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.Enjoying Tea and Scones 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.

Banks of Shannon RiverWe 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.


Breaffy House HotelOur 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.Barb and Colleen try to play Miniature golf







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