Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ulster American Folk Park, Emigration from the Irish Point of View

Few of us realize that without the Irish, especially the ones from Ulster, America would not be the great country it is today. After going through the Ulster American Folk Park, there can be little doubt.

The park is a collection of buildings, starting with The Old World. There is a single room cabin, Weaver's cottage and Meeting House with a Vestry; to give you a feel for how the locals lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. These are followed by the Campbell house, Tullyallen Mass house, and the Hughes House, the boyhood home of John Joseph Hughes, the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. We even found a cart like John Wayne gave Maureen O'Hara in
"The Silent Man"!

Entering Ulster St, you find yourself visiting 19th century storefronts, complete with post office, Chemist, printer and Reilly's Spirit Grocers, a pub which also sold groceries. Then you enter the docksides with a ship showing the size and telling of the condition the emigrants withstood. Exiting the ship, you have 'landed' in America! Time for some culture shock!

The houses on the New World side are mainly from Pennsylvania. There is a log cabin, log barn, such as we saw regularly around Mertztown, a log farmhouse from the early 1800's and a western Pennsylvania log farmhouse from the 1900's.

Now why so much from Pennsylvania? The Park also contains the boyhood home of Judge Thomas Mellon, the founder of Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, PA. His family, over the years, have been major donors to the Park, with the log house and earlier log farmhouse being replicas of the ones built by the Mellon family when they arrived in America.

We enjoyed our visit, as well as the information, although some of it was a little off. Such as the docent who explained that one of the houses was new to the park, coming from West Virginia over close to the border with Hawaii. We think she meant Ohio.

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