Ireland is riddled with museums and monument parks, statues and monastic sites. Ancient burial grounds. Celtic history. Expansive, beautifully laid out exhibits and also the local colour; something homegrown and a little bit more unique. Sligo Folk Park is definitely that. It is like the little train that could but who is still stuck on the upward hill journey, panting, hopeful of success but not over the hill.
On the way to the seaside town of Bundoran, looking for distraction, we spun off the road on a whim to see the Sligo Folk Park. I had never heard of it. A quite impressive driveway led us to the attraction, lined with high flying flags. Grandeur slips away to reveal what seems like a scrapyard as you finish the drive inward. There is a general air of organised disorientation lingering all about, lack of people and our confusion making us unsure. Alongside the madness, a keen eye will spot some great planning within the mayhem. Someone really cares/cared here. The first glance scrapyard is actually a wide display of old Irish mechanics including antique fairground rides.
A look into old Ireland, traditions and customs is the aim of the park. Having been charmed by the professional glitz of the Ulster American Folkpark, this attraction has large competition. It is rough and ready, a work in progress but really worth a look in parts – if you can get past the fact that it is not fighting to be a tourist attraction with all the comforts that implies. You will not sip coffee in an air conditioned tearoom. You will not experience a lilac scented restroom decked out with sprigs of dried lavender. You will inhale all the must the past has to offer. A deeper look past the outer area reveals some truly lovely pieces of work hidden away amongst the grime.
Within a large hall, a whole streetscape is laid on impressively with old Sligo shop fronts as a theme.
There is no cafe but a business opportunity advertised. It is necessary to make the place attractive to all visitors.Nostalgia is the running theme here and we did ooh and ahh over many memory jerkers as we perused.
The best section (after the street scape) was the fully dressed up farmhouse with live chickens wandering about and a few more frontages for a dairy and motor store.
A schoolhouse adds a nice touch.
The cottages and house are really well done and but the dairy was a bit more bizarre.
The customer toilets have the feeling of GAA pitch about them- work required here. Do not we all judge a place by toilets? There is soap, toilet paper and it gets a wipe but it needs a lot more! This could be said for the whole place.
Pricing: fifteen euros for a family of two and two is a questionable figure at first glance but I didn’t feel totally ripped off as the place has definitely a lot to see. Huge heart is portrayed in an attempt to create something truly worthwhile here and they are very nearly there. A few more sparkles, as Gigi might say, could give a cleaner finish.
I will leave you with a close up of the bald and hand-less butter maker. It will never leave my mind so why haunt not yours too. You are welcome.