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Special Focus Visits

The special focus programme offers opportunities for in-depth investigations of specific themes related to the curriculum.  The exploration of each theme normally requires a 3-hour visit and a variety of material is available for pupils’ use during the programmes.

Schools Programme 2014 - 2015

  • Ulster American Folk Park Schools Programme 2014 - 2015  - Download PDF

Additional information:

  • Pupils should wear suitable outdoor clothing.
  • Programmes listed below are subject to availability.

‘Life and times of' series

Thomas Mellon: Judge, Banker and Entrepreneur

Pupils visit the house where Thomas Mellon was born and the church he attended. They find out about the voyage overseas and investigate life in the log cabin and in the two-storey farmhouse. Learn about his education, his career and the establishment of the Mellon Bank of America (max. 40 pupils).

Robert Campbell: Trapper, Trader and Businessman

Explore his birthplace, find out about the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and his dashing life in the Rocky Mountains as a beaver trapper and trader. Watch a presentation about his American home, now the Campbell House Museum in St Louis, Missouri (max. 40 pupils).

John Hughes: Archbishop of New York

Explore his boyhood home from County Monaghan and Tullyallen Mass House. Find out about linen spinning, the journey to America, his career and his work with the Famine immigrants in New York (max. 40 pupils).

Life in Ulster series

Life in Rural Ulster

A study of life in 19th century Ulster covering housing, everyday life, domestic industry, forgework, agriculture, schooldays and traditional customs. Optional work booklet (max. 140 pupils).

Going to town

Based in the Street area, this programme gives an opportunity to look at the commercial life of a late 19th century town. It includes a study of original Victorian shop-fronts, the crafts of the saddler, the ropemaker and the printer, the chemist’s shop, pawnbroker, sub post office and general store (max. 60 pupils).

School role play

Experience work and play of a typical day in an 1850s National school. Activities include learning by rote; toeing the line; writing with quill-pens and slate pencils; and participating in traditional games at break time. Pupils are encouraged to wear traditional costume to enhance the experience. An advice leaflet on early Ulster and American dress is available on request from the Folk Park (min. 10, max. 30 pupils).

Emigration series

Hawthorn days

Is your class reading ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ or ‘Wildflower Girl’? Then live out the experience in authentic 19th century surroundings at the Folk Park.

  • Discover Mary Kate Conway’s secret cures. 
  • Taste famine foods such as yellow meal gruel and soup. 
  • Visit the land agent’s house. 
  • Travel on the emigrant ship. 
  • Watch out for tricksters and pickpockets. 
  • Find out what’s cooking in America. 

Follow up leaflet available (max. 100 pupils) upper primary.

Emigrant journey re-enactment

Designed for smaller numbers of pupils, this programme has a highly experiential element. Pupils re-enact the journey from their thatched cottage home along the roads to the port area, where they board the 'Brig Union' bound for Baltimore. Pupils spend an extended period of time reliving the shipboard experience and finish off with arrival in America. Optional work booklet (max. 30 pupils).

Emigrants exhibition

A major gallery exhibition which tells the story of over two million people who left Ulster in the 18th and 19th centuries to seek a new life in North America. With dioramas (scale models), period stage sets, sound effects, artefacts, paintings, documents and information panels. Find out about the people who left; the causes of emigration; the Atlantic experience; and, life in rural and urban America. 90-minute programme with activity book (max. 30 pupils) year 7 and post primary pupils.

18th Century Emigration

Many of the 18th century emigrants from Ireland were Presbyterians whose forebears had come from Scotland in the previous century. The programme includes the Campbell House, the Meeting House, the Single Room Cabin, the domestic linen industry, the voyage, indentured servants, Pennsylvania Fulton House, the Log Cabin and the Conestoga wagon. An audiovisual presentation ‘Eastern Woodland Indians’ lasting 25 minutes can be shown on request as part of your visit (max. 80 pupils).

Emigration 1815-1850

A selective tour of the museum tracing the experiences of three emigrant families, Mellon, Campbell and Hughes, visiting their homes in Ulster, reliving their experiences on board a typical sailing ship of the period and looking at their varied careers in urban and rural America. The programme also looks at the Great Famine and Bishop John Hughes’ role in the reception of Famine immigrants to New York (max. 100 pupils).

Famine Emigration

Featuring the Great Famine as a key event in the history of Ireland, this programme focuses on emigration during those terrible years. Pupils find out about the living conditions of the poor, the role of the landlords, famine relief measures, assisted emigration, the Atlantic crossing, and the New York experience. Optional work booklets (max. 100 pupils) post primary.

Irish Diaspora 1840 - 1966

The emigration experience portrayed at the Folk Park presents opportunities for students to examine many of the key concepts required in this topic. The museum itself is a vivid illustration of the links between Ireland and the wider world, including roots tourism and heritage.

Visit the outdoor museum to examine emigration in the era of the sailing ship and consider tourism and heritage links with the wider world.

Visit 'emigrants', a major gallery exhibition telling the story of over two million people who left Ulster in the 18th and 19th centuries to seek a new life in North America (age 16+).

Irish Diaspora Residential Programme

Stay overnight in the Residential Centre at the Folk Park and allow your students to pursue an extended programme using both the outdoor museum site and the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS) at the Folk Park (two day programme).

Elements include:

  • A visit to the outdoor museum site
  • Emigrants Exhibition in-depth study
  • Discussion session on Roots Tourism
  • Primary documents research on the Irish Emigration Database in CMS
  • ‘Irish migration in the 20th century’ - seminar in CMS
  • An introduction to relevant publications to assist the topic.

General tour

Suitable for all ages, this tour looks at the rural exhibits in the Old World, the ship and the New World, and provides an overview of two centuries of emigration. For post primary pupils, it provides an opportunity to challenge some of the myths and stereotypes about emigration (max. 250 pupils).

Life in American Series

The Early American Frontier

This post primary programme looks in detail at the American exhibits and includes the Conestoga Wagon, the Log Cabin, the Fulton Stone House, American farm buildings, two log farmhouses and relevant aspects of the ‘Emigrants’ exhibition. Pupils will learn about house construction; textiles and clothing; frontier cooking; food preservation; household chores and family life; agriculture and transport (max. 120 pupils) post primary.

For schools that wish to use the programme as a basis to examine the issue of colonisation, an audiovisual presentation ‘Eastern Woodland Indians’ lasting 25 minutes can be shown on request as part of your visit. Learning materials available.

Immigrant voices

This programme has been specially prepared to highlight the varied challenges and opportunities of settling in a new place and to encourage empathy with recent arrivals to this country. It explores the experiences of the 19th century immigrant to America through the dramatized stories of individuals who settled in urban and rural areas. Issues of diversity, inclusion, failure and success are highlighted (max. 60 pupils) post primary.

Native American Activities

Based in our modern Education Centre, we investigate the lifestyle of the original inhabitants of Eastern America – the Woodland Indians. The programme begins with an audio-visual presentation following which the pupils subdivide into smaller groups to study methods of communication, dance, adornment including beadwork, masks and face decoration, and their significance in Native American culture (max. 30 pupils) upper primary.

Learn to barn dance

Led by Folk Park staff, pupils are introduced to the basic steps of the American square, line and circle dances. Dances taught are selected from the Virginia Reel, Golden Slippers, Lucky Seven and Buffalo Girls (max. 30 pupils, 90-minute programme).

Additional programmes

Health & Habits in the 19th Century

Use this programme as a basis for examining changing standards of personal health. Investigate 19th century housing in Ulster, laundry and hygiene, soap making, diet and food preservation, epidemics, charms, cures, patent medicines and herbal remedies. Barn dancing and a visit to Reilly’s spirit grocers are usually included as part of the programme (max. 80 pupils) post primary.

Home Economics in the Park

Folk Park staff are available on site to lead the following activities:

  • A Home Economic trail that investigates in a 19th century context, diet and health, food storage and preservation, living conditions, family roles and domestic technology. (max. 100 pupils)
  • Home Economics workshops including 19th century traditional cookery in the thatched houses of Ulster and the log buildings of America, and the techniques of food preservation with particular reference to the American frontier.  Ingredients are supplied but may attract an additional charge. (max. 30 pupils)

Maths across the Ocean series

Specially written for the Folk Park by mathematics advisory staff from the Western Education and Library Board, these trails help pupils reinforce mathematical concepts in a novel and unusual setting. The trails deal with such concepts as number, symmetry, time, estimation, shape and angles (max. 60 pupils).

Based in Shipbuoy street, the Ship and Dockside gallery and the American street, the following trails are available:

  • The Blue Trail for years 4-5 
  • The Gold Trail for years 6-8 
  • The Red Trail for pupils with special needs 
  • The White Trail (for lower secondary pupils only) based in the New World area

Living lightly Environmental trail

This specially designed outdoor environmental programme focuses on issues of sustainable development, using history as a stimulus. It examines the environment in the context of emigration, looking at how the emigrants used and adapted to their environments before and after emigration. An advice booklet with follow-up suggestions is available. The programme is available May, June and September only. Rainwear and appropriate footwear essential (max. 60 pupils).

Art & Design GCSE, A and A/S levels

Older students will find many opportunities to use the exhibits as a basis for their portfolio of work. Students should bring their own art materials and are encouraged to discuss their projects with us to see how we can best support them. Cameras welcome.

Drama & Media studies

Prepare your programme in school and then record your drama in the park. As part of your day we can arrange for you to discuss with our guides their experiences of planning and delivering first person interpretation in the museum. Please call in advance to reserve the buildings you require for your project.

Heritage Tourism

First opened in 1976, the Folk Park has established itself as one of the major tourist attractions on the island of Ireland. Student groups are invited to visit the Folk Park to investigate the museum from a tourism perspective and discuss with staff such aspects as visitor management, patterns of visitation, marketing, public services, careers etc. Please call us to discuss the specific needs of your group (max. 80 pupils) post primary.

For more information on events and exhibitions visit our What's On pages.