But the DFV is more than just a few thatched cottages and talk of the famine. In fact, there was relatively little talk of the famine, truth be told. There was some talk of death:
It was not a good time to be born into a peasant family in Ireland, that's for sure.
|A re-enactment of an eviction - local police in attendance to deal with any resistance.|
We also learned about the great migration of Northern Ireland folk to the US and Canada - something like 8 or 9 US Presidents have come from Presbyterian Ulster stock. The Penal Laws had placed strict limits on what Catholics and Protestant Dissenters (mostly Presbyterians) were allowed to do and so many upped sticks and left the country. A famous case is that of Rev James McGregor, who led his Presbyterian flock from nearby Aghadowey to New Hampshire in 1718 - in the end there were upwards of 1000 people on five ships bound for Boston. Before he left, he delivered a sermon in Coleraine, stating he was leaving Ulster "to avoid oppression and cruel bondage, to shun persecution and designed ruin...and have an opportunity of worshiping God according to the dictates of conscience and rules of His Inspired Word". Quite. Once there, McGregor established the first Ulster Presbyterian settlement on the continent and the town of Nutfield, where he settled, was renamed Londonderry.
And wouldn't you know it, the first American potato was grown there - in 1719 apparently. And the name of the neighbouring town? Derry, of course - what else?
|The youngsters having fun learning about the bad old days in Ireland, thanking their lucky stars they were born when they were - as indeed I was too.|
As well as the history of the famine, evictions and what have you, Doagh Famine Village has a really eclectic collection of 'stuff' through the ages - a hoarder's dream, really. They mustn't have thrown anything away for decades - old radios, cassette players, farm tools, tractors, advertising posters, household utensils, - you name it, it's there. An amazing place.
|Can you feel the vibes? The band struck up whenever someone entered the room - very unexpected it was, I can tell you.|