Sunday, 10 June 2012

Folk Museum Outing


I have spent the whole day - seven hours - at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, County Down. I chose a fine, sunny day and wore shorts and my shirt sleeves pulled up. An adult ticket for both museums costs £8. Lunch cost me £6.75.

Armed with their map, I followed the entire route, comprising over fifty exhibits in the Folk Museum itself.

This is a prime tourist destination in our Province, so allow plenty of time to absorb the atmosphere.

Some of the farms have livestock, including pigs, piglets, geese, hens, donkeys and goats.

Six terraced houses were once part of a 22-house terrace at Tea Lane/Rowland Street, originally built in the late 1820s for the workers in the nearby textile mills and brick-yards of the Sandy Row area, then a mill village on the southern outskirts of Belfast.

They pre-date the first local government housing regulations. From 1845 houses had to have larger rooms and from 1878 a back entry, so waste from the backyard toilet did not have to be carried through the living quarters for disposal.

It was not uncommon for two families to share a house, one family downstairs subletting the upper floor to another family.

The larger house in the centre of the terrace has a passage through to the yard, enabling the occupants to keep a horse or donkey.

Ballydugan Weaver's House (above) is a replica of a mid-19th century house, the original being at Ballydugan, County Down.  The front and rear walls are of stone with clay mortar, while the gable and interior walls are of solid earth (mud walls) except for the brick chimney.

The roof is carried on fir poles resting on the gables and interior walls. This arrangement gives height and clear space, uncluttered by cross-timbers holding roof trusses in position.

This arrangement gives a feeling of airiness and space in the kitchen but, more significantly, allows tall Jacquard looms to be installed in the weaving shop.

I lunched at the Ballycultra Tearoom, where I had the beef stew with wheaten bread and a pot of tea.

The Manor House, now used mainly for functions and more formal meals, has been restored recently.

The Kennedy graveyard, alas now neglected, is close to the main entrance. The last grave I noticed was dated 1970.

At the Transport Museum I admired a wonderful dress chariot, manufactured for the 2nd Marquess (later 1st Duke) of Abercorn. It is on loan from the present Duke of Abercorn.

The 2nd Marchioness was a daughter of the Duke of Bedford.

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