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Emigrant Ship

Emigrant Ship, Ulster American Folk Park CollectionLying in the dock is a reconstruction of an early nineteenth century ‘brig’ modelled on the Brig Union which carried older members of the Mellon family to Baltimore in 1816, two years before Thomas Mellon and his parents emigrated.

The brig was a two-masted square-rigged sailing vessel measuring approximately 100 feet (30.5 metres) long. Always at the mercy of winds and weather, she could take anything from six to twelve weeks to reach the east coast of North America. The emigrant quarters and deck are actual size (click images to enlarge). 

Emigrant Ship, Ulster American Folk Park CollectionFares varied, usually about £4 in the early - mid 19th century, although there are references to fares of £10 and over.

Conditions on board were far from comfortable. As many as 200 people and their belongings could be squeezed as steerage passengers into the “tween decks’ area. 


Emigrant Ship, Ulster American Folk Park CollectionMuch of the atmosphere of the ship’s interior has been re-created - the sounds of creaking timbers, the foul smells of the emigrants’ living quarters, the roughly-constructed berths, and the sparse cooking facilities. 

After a short time below, the fresh air of the upper deck is very welcome. Here can be seen the ‘galley’ or ‘caboose’ where the main meals were cooked; the ship’s wheel on the ‘poop’ deck; and the windlass for winding in the anchor.