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Ship & Dockside Gallery

The Journey: Map Location 23

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Ship and dockside gallery

Collect your ticket and board the Brig Union - a replica of the emigrant sailing ship that carried members of the Mellon family to Baltimore in 1816. You'll get a taste of the conditions that migrants endured during their twelve-week crossing. The merchant's office near the dock stood in Great George Street in Belfast, while the boarding house dates to the 1700s and once offered shelter to emigrants on Bridge Street in Derry-Londonderry.

Lying in the dock is a reconstruction of an early 1800s ‘brig’. It is a reconstruction of the Brig Union which carried older members of the Mellon family to Baltimore in 1816. Two years later, Thomas Mellon and his parents emigrated. Fares varied, usually about £4 in 1800-1850, although there are references to fares of £10 and over.

The brig was a two-masted square-rigged sailing vessel measuring approximately 100 feet (30.5 metres) long. At the mercy of winds and weather, she could take anything from six to 12 weeks to reach the east coast of North America. The emigrant quarters and deck are the actual size.

This life-sized ship gives a grim interpretation of the conditions aboard, which were far from comfortable. As many as 200 people and their belongings were squeezed into the 'tween decks’ area as steerage passengers.

Much of the atmosphere of the ship’s interior has been re-created - the sounds of creaking timbers, the roughly-constructed berths, and the sparse cooking facilities.

The building from the 1700s beside the ship is from Bridge Street, Derry-Londonderry, on the west bank of the River Foyle. Both were rebuilt at the Ulster American Folk Park in 1988.

Climb the stairs to the upper deck. Look at the galley or caboose on the upper deck of the ship. This is where main meals are cooked. Have a look for the ship’s wheel on the poop deck and the windlass for winding in the anchor.