Northern Ireland / Travels

County Tyrone: Stone Circles & a Folk Park

We headed south from Derry/Londonderry on a route that took us along windy roads through the hills of County Tyrone, to the Beaghmore Stone Circles. These are a range of stone circles, cairns and henges all in the same place. They are Bronze Age constructions, of which we can likely only see the tops, and were part of some kind of burial-related rituals. There are dozens of sites in the surrounding area, but we only visited the one site.

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Further south, outside Omagh, is the Ulster American Folk Park. It’s a reconstruction of the “emigrant trail as you journey from the thatched cottages of Ulster, on board a full scale emigrant sailing ship leading to the log cabins of the American Frontier”, taking inspiration from Thomas Mellon, one such immigrant.

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The Blacksmith

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Inside the Protestant church

It started in a rural Ulster Irish village, taking in small cottages, large homes, churches, trade places (eg. blacksmith’s), and school through to the village centre with the post office, pub, printing press, haberdasher’s, grocer and more.

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Inside a farm house

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A sitting room in a large house belonging to a wealthier family – the kind of house Thomas Mellon grew up in until he emigrated as a child.

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The village centre

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A bedroom above one of the businesses along the main street

Because it was not the peak tourist season, there were not as many actors around as normal, and not all the businesses along the main street were open.

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The main street

You then went through the docks, with a reconstruction immigrant ship, through to the other side where you explored the different styles of houses built by the American settlers.

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The kind of one-bedroom timber cabin the Mellon family would have first built upon arriving in America

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The kitchen of the bigger house they would have built once they could afford it.

The Irish side was definitely more elaborate, with many buildings being original. However, it did appear that the American side was still a work in progress, with the biggest house looking like it had only recently been constructed (albeit from an original house transported from the US). We both enjoyed the afternoon there, especially seeing demonstrations and talking to the actors who worked there, so it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t in full swing. It wasn’t hugely busy but I do think Easter holidays is close enough that there could have been more happening.

After that we headed for our B&B in County Armagh, stopping off along the way to visit the ruins of a Franciscan Friary.

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