One of the most fascinating museums in the North is the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. The main site is an open-air museum village where about thirty typical buildings from all over the North, some dating from the eighteenth century, have been taken from their original sites and rebuilt complete with authentic furnishings, including an entire street from Dromore and Belfast terraces. Conceptually, you can walk from one part of Northern Ireland to another, amid appropriate scenes. Traditional farms have also been created and assorted livestock roam between the buildings. The starting point is a gallery on Ulster’s social history and an introduction to the buildings themselves. From here you walk around the grounds, visiting the various buildings, including a small village street with church and rectory, two schools, various typical farm dwellings, a forge and other buildings used in light manufacture. Each of these is “inhabited” by a member of staff, garbed in period costume and informative about the building and its origins. Such historical realism is impressive, though sometimes a little disquieting: the Kilmore Church graveyard contains real tombstones donated by family members.
On the far side of the main road, across a bridge, are the transport galleries, where the exhibits include every conceivable form of transport, from horse-drawn carts to lifeboats and a vertical take-off plane, but especially veteran cars, motorcycles and trams. You’ll also meet Old Maeve, the largest locomotive ever built in Ireland, and a DeLorean sports car from the infamously defunct factory, while the Titanic exhibit documents the origins and fate of the Belfast-constructed liner. “The Flight Experience” examines the history of aviation through films, models and interactive displays. Outside the galleries there’s a miniature railway that runs on summer Saturdays, and back in the main section there’s a decent restaurant, located in the Education Centre. The museum also regularly stages temporary exhibitions and occasional cultural events.