Such a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit salad, scrambled eggs, bacon, granola… We’ve been spoiled! We’ve heard a cuckoo every morning since we’ve been here. Paula shared with us her attempts to photograph the bird. They are migratory and won’t be around long. I realize that the cuckoo clock is obviously named after the cuckoo but I never realized how very similar the sound is! I have been sleeping with ear plugs and eye shades every night but can still hear the cuckoo in the morning. Eye shades are necessary for me because it begins to be daylight in Ireland around 4:30 a.m. Once my eyes sense light my brain says it’s time to get up. No way am I getting up at 4:30 a.m.
Today we decided to drive to Omagh to visit the Ulster American Folk Park in County Tyrone. Some of my ancestors come from County Tyrone and it was shaping up to be a wet drizzly day anyway. It took around an hour and a half to get to the park and to do that we had to enter Northern Ireland. There were no signs identifying the change of country; however, the gasoline stations had the prices in British pounds instead of Euros.
The Ulster-American Folk Park is a physical representation of what life would have been like for the Irish in Ireland, their emigration to America, and then life in the United States. There are people dressed in period costumes in different locations who are able to provide more detail pertinent to their location. I thought it was extremely well done. We started out visiting a very humble Irish dwelling. As we progressed along the way, through less modest homes, we eventually came to the dock area.
Here there was a life-sized representation of what a boat to American would have looked like. There were wooden bunks stacked three high that we might think would hold two people, but held four adults in each section. A slop bucket was under each section of bunks that would have required emptying in the morning – if not sooner. To imagine our ancestors embarking on this journey was truly humbling. It often took around 40 days to make the crossing in such closed quarters. Many people became ill and died before ever reaching the shore.
Once arrived in America, the exhibit followed the progress of Irish immigrants and the homes and places they may have dwelt in. There were replicas from log cabins to a brick home where Irish immigrants settled in American. One of the costumed people asked us where our ancestors had come from. I told her that the Truemans had come from County Tyrone and she said she knew of Truemans in Dungannon. My great-great-grandfather; Hugh Trueman was a devout Presbyterian upon his emigration to Canada. Perhaps on the next visit I’ll plan on attending a Presby service in Dungannon. Surely, I’d meet some relatives there? I didn’t know that many Presbyterians left Northern Ireland because they too, felt oppressed by the British. Though they were not affiliated with the Church of England, they still had to tithe to that church.
The indoor exhibits were also very interesting and well put together. One of the individuals highlighted in the exhibit was Robert Campbell. The same Robert Campbell who was in business with the Mountain Man, William “Bill” Sublette back in the early 1800s. Small world, eh?
We made a good day of our visit, leaving close to 5:00 p.m. We made one last visit to The Corner House where we chatted a while with the female half of the ownership. She was stressing about her daughter’s upcoming wedding the next week. I had complained to Paula that the folks at the Corner House weren’t that friendly but I think in retrospect, we were usually there after the music started. It’s certainly not as likely that conversation would ensue while folks were listening to the singers.
We drove the narrow, twisty, fuschia-lined drive to The Green Gate around 7:00 p.m. It was rainy and quite miserable but Paula had invited us for dinner. Bill headed off to “check things out” first and I waited for his return. Truthfully, I was pretty exhausted and just sat on the floor until he came back to fetch me. We were still the only quests and Paula prepared a wonderful meal for us. We had a mixed greens salad, and chicken casserole made of chicken, shredded carrot, chunked young sweet potatoes, little white potatoes and wild garlic all cooked in the better part of a bottle of white wine. For dessert she offered us dark chocolate brownies with chocolate sauce to die for! We enjoyed our meal and company so much. After dinner Paula prepared Irish coffees for us. When I’ve had Irish coffee in the States, it’s been a creamy mixture of coffee, sweetened cream and whiskey. The bona fide version of Irish coffee calls for the coffee and sugar to be mixed first, then the whiskey added. Unsweetened cream is whipped just to a thickened state and then carefully laid atop the coffee mixture. Served in a glass mug Irish coffee looks a lot like a Guinness; dark on the bottom and foamy on the top!
We have appreciated Paula’s attention while we have been here. We’ve learned a lot, discussed a multitude of topics, and always felt her warm welcome. We headed off to bed at 11:45 p.m.