Heritage hot spots History, nature, art, environment

Sat, Feb 11, 2012, 00:00

Ulster Folk Transport Museum

What is it? Ulster Folk Transport Museum incorporates two museums on a 70-hectare site outside Holywood in Co Down. It is the largest open-air museum in Ireland and one of the first of its type in Europe.

Why visit? The transport museum houses a purpose-built gallery, reminiscent of the great Victorian stations, that illustrates the development of railways in Ireland during the 19th century. The road-transport galleries have bicycles, motorcycles, trams and cars dating back to the late 19th century.

An interactive exhibition on aviation, which explores the history, science and technology of flight, has a full-motion flight simulator and information about Ireland’s only aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier Shorts.

The folk museum has two permanent galleries, one about life in Victorian times and another about farming life, with farmhouses, a rural school and lots of information about traditional farming. Many of the buildings are staffed by costumed guides, and demonstrations of traditional crafts are held daily.

Why go now?TITANICa, a new permanent exhibition, looks at the building of Titanicand life aboard before it sank, in 1912. A trail through the folk museum shows you shipyard workers’ homes, carpenters’ workshops and the coal yard at Belfast Lough. You can buy souvenir telegrams, Titanictickets and newspapers of the time or dress up in period costume and have your photograph taken.

How do I get there?Ulster Folk Transport Museum is on the main Belfast to Bangor road in Cultra, Co Down. (If you’re driving into Belfast on the M1, take the A2 exit, signposted for Bangor. As you get closer, you’ll see more signs directing you to the museum entrance.) Buses stop a five-minute walk away; trains stop at Cultra Halt station, two minutes from the transport galleries and 15 minutes from the folk museum. (Call 048-90666630 for up-to-date train and bus times.) Until the end of this month the museum is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm; Between March and September it is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Admission is £8 for adults, £4.50 for children and £16 or £21.50 for families; 048-90428428, nmni.com.