Ulster American Folk Park!

ulster parkHere’s a teaser for our March 2011 Ireland Tour. Exploring the links between our own Appalachian culture and Ireland roots, we’ll be visiting the Ulster American Folk Park.

An oft-overlooked fact… over 2 million emigrated to America from Ulster prior to 1900. Collectively, those people had a profound impact on American history and culture. Several American Presidents, most notably Andrew Jackson, U.S. Grant, and Teddy Roosevelt had Ulster roots. The Ulster American Folk Park explores the various reasons for the waves of migration reaching back to the early 1700s. People of all stations of life crossed the Atlantic… destined to become “Americans.”

The Park is a fascinating, open-air, sprawling museum including 30 buildings, some of which are recreations, some being lovingly restored originals. Staffed with interpreters and “people of history,” from them one gains a sense of place and time. Particularly of rural life in the 1700s and 1800s. Visitors are first guided through parts of an Irish village of smallholdings, cottages, churches, weavers shop, and a blacksmith’s shop. You’ll see and hear people go about their daily business as in earlier times.

“Ireland” then “ends” in a city street, complete with well-stocked shops, leading down to a quay. Here a sailing ship awaits…you board … for transport to “America.” Debarking, it’s through the immigration shed into a virtual street from 19th Century Boston. Then journey on until you are in the open countryside. Here, several farmsteads are recreated with a loving eye for detail, complete with crops and livestock. There’s even a log house directly from Greene County, PA.

All in all, the Ulster American Folk Park is an amazing experience. Especially for those of us from American frontier roots. Common traditions continue on both sides of The Atlantic. Of those, music is ever-present. In celebration, the Ulster American Folk Park’s annual Bluegrass Festival has been a calendar highlight for more than sixteen years. Who knows what musical moments we might share there!

To explore more, here’s the website: http://www.nmni.com/uafp

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