Belfast Telegraph

Tele Recommends: Northern Ireland's best museums

We've consulted the experts to bring you the best Northern Ireland has to offer - the places, the food, the music, the craic.

Olwen Purdue lectures in History at QUB. She has published a book on The Big House in Northern Ireland. Sean Connolly is Professor of Irish History at QUB. He was general editor of The Oxford Companion to Irish History.

What is Tele Recommends?

Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best museums, they recommend...

Ulster American Folk Park, Newtownstewart, Omagh

This outdoor museum brings to life the story of Irish emigration during the 19th century. The experience begins in rural Ulster where you can explore authentic homesteads, churches and a school, visit a blacksmith in his foundry or chat to the proprietor of the drapery store. After ‘boarding' an emigrant ship, you will emerge into the New World where your first stop will be the General Store. The visitors' centre contains an exhibition gallery, a shop and a café. Allow 2-3 hours for the visit.

Tower Museum, Londonderry

A well thought out combination of original artefacts, replicas and video displays takes you through every stage in Derry's development, from the first ecclesiastical settlement to the post-conflict city. A separate gallery displays material rescued in 1971 from the La Trinidad Valencera, wrecked on the coast of Inishowen in 1588, with background material on the Spanish Armada. Climb to the top floor for a viewing point with plaques pointing out landmarks in the city's development.

Navan Centre and Fort, Armagh

This offers an experience at two levels. The 2,000-3,000-year-old earthworks are impressive in their scale, and displays in the Visitors' Centre illustrate what this ritual landscape might once have meant. The replica of an Irish Age village is evocative, and the living history enactors are well informed and quick witted.

Newry and Mourne Museum, Bagenal's Castle, Newry

Located in the historic Bagenal's Castle, this museum uses a range of methods to explore and celebrate the rich culture of this border region. The main galleries trace the important cultural, social and political developments of the area, from the coming of the first human settlers through to the present day, while temporary exhibitions focus on specific aspects of the region's history.

Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn

A more specialised attraction. But if you want to understand Ulster's most important industry across three centuries, this is the place to go. You can start by handling real flax, and see how the vital fibres emerge from the woody exterior, and finish by watching a skilled weaver turn fine thread into cloth. The attached museum will open later in the summer, with a display on the Great War and its aftermath.

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