Little House on the Prairie: American Folk Museum Part 1

One of the places I really wanted to visit when we were in Northern Ireland was the American Folk Museum.  The reason being that it had an actual prairie house which had been transported back from America plank by plank and reconstructed on site.  No it wasn’t a replica of the Little House (as I had first thought) but an actual example of an 1800’s wooden prairie house.

The weather was not on our side and we didn’t manage to go until our very last day, and even then it was raining a lot of the time.

The first part of the museum was inside, the main section of interest being the huge wagon.  I say huge, but I’m thinking we would find it cramped if we were required to live in it for any length of time:

DSC_0323It was very dark, so the photos are not very clear, but you get the idea of size and also apparent fragility of the wagon:

DSC_0327The thing that struck me the most was that both ends were uncovered.  It wasn’t clear whether there was a curtain or other means of protecting the inhabitants from any adverse conditions outside.  It looks a little drafty to me:

DSC_0329We then ventured out into the cold to visit the Irish side of the museum.  The museum is set out cleverly leading you through the streets of an Irish village down to the docks.  You then get to step on-board a typical ship which would have taken you from Ireland to America.  You board the ship on the Irish side and after looking around you disembark on the other side, to find yourself in the American part of the museum.  This post will show you the Irish side, part two the actual ship and part three the American side.

The Irish streets were cobblestoned with pretty white buildings.  This photo shows the approach which includes the post office on the right:

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And the interior of the post office:

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We then wandered down the main high street:

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If we had gone over the summer holidays, or even at the week end, this street would have been full of re enactors.  There were only a few when we went mid week.  One re enactor  was in the grocery store, where the children were able to buy a quarter of sweeties:

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The rope makers,  the next shop on, was particularly interesting for T11 given that over the summer he had learnt to make his own rope from leather.  This rope was made from hemp and sisal and the like:

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Here is the rope making equipment:

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The resulting rope:

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Much to T11’s delight they also explained how the rope was made into net for fishing.  This was fantastic for him to see as he had also been learning net making.  Here are the nets hanging up at the back of the shop:

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The next place we visited was the haberdashery, with all the different types of material available to buy at the time.  The re-enactor here delighted in telling us all about her shop:

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There was also a bar:

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And we were then ready to venture onto the docks to board the ship that would take us to America:

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You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that adventure!!

22 comments

  1. This looks great! I love the sound of the layout of the museum, how clever. It reminds me of the Black Country Museum – have you been to that one? It’s worth a visit if you get the chance!

  2. I love the whole concept of travelling from Ireland to America. It is great that the children were able to see many of the things they experienced during their Little House study. Maybe one day they will be able to travel here and see first hand some of the places about which they have learned. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day!

  3. That looks like an amazing museum! What a set up! It’s so great that the kids got to see the real thing after learning about it all summer! And the rope making – so perfect.

  4. Hi just popping over from Sarah at Delivering Grace, I live in Northern Ireland and I love the folk park, I do hope you got to see the earlier cottages to show how they lived here even years before! The Ulster folk and transport museum is also excellent, set out in a similar way where you can visit all the crafts people in their homes etc. So glad you enjoyed your visit!

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