If you were in two minds about going to Northern Ireland, this place alone should be enough to make you go. This is an open-air museum telling the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th & 19th centuries in a vivid and exciting manner.
The park is centered around the small cottage where Thomas Mellon, founder of the Pittsburgh-based banking empire, was born. His ancestors are partly responsible for this wonderful place, having made very generous financial contributions to its development.
Featured image by Burkazoid
Furnished and equipped dwellings and places of work, both Irish and American, are reconstucted in meticulous detail.
Peat fires warm the cottages and costumed demonstrators are busily involvedáin candle-making, fish-salting, horse-shoeing and other traditional crafts while at the same time happily interacting with visitors in a natural but very informative and entertaining way. It really is like stepping into history.
In the “New World” section there are log houses, a typical Pennsylvania homestead, a covered wagon and afull-size reconstruction of an early 19th century ship of the type which carried thousands of emigrants to America.
There are regular special events and exhibitions including an annual Appalachian and Bluegrass Festival every September.
Those whose ancestors hailed from Northern Ireland can consult the Irish Emigration Database plus a vast archive of letters, passenger lists and newspaper articles of the time in the extensive library of the Centre for Migration Studies in the Park.
Visiting the Folk Park
In the months of April to September the centre is open from 10.30am to 6.30pm Monday-Saturday and 11am to 6.30pm on Sundays. During the rest of the year it opens from 10.30am to 5pm on weekdays only.
The Centre for Migration Studies is open from 10.30am to 4.45pm Monday to Friday all year round.
There is a coffee shop and a restaurant which opens for lunch only, but there are also many pleasant places to picnic, so consider taking a packed lunch with you. Set aside a whole day for this one, adults and kids alike will just love it.