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Folk Museum Making Festival

This event has ended
Willow weaver at Ulster Folk Museum
Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th August
Event type
Free for members

At the Ulster Folk Museum, we are passionate about preserving and nurturing Northern Ireland’s unique heritage skills, customs and traditions. This August we'll be celebrating the first Folk Museum Making Festival in association with the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITB NI), a two-day event honouring traditional crafts & heritage skills!

Over the weekend we’ll be showcasing a wide range of Ireland’s unique building traditions such as thatching, stone masonry, limewashing and drystone walling. There'll also be talented makers sharing their crafts including signwriting, stained glass, and straw rope making; and our fantastic team of in-house craft demonstrators will be working in blacksmithing, willow, textiles, wood and more!

As well as a chance to see at-risk skills in action, we will also be hosting a craft fair in collaboration with Craft NI, where you’ll be able to purchase works from some of the high-quality craft makers and applied artists working with heritage materials to make beautiful objects, homewares and decorative pieces.

We’ll have traditional music sessions, food, screenings in our original picture house, and activities for all ages to get stuck into. So come along and be part of the revival of our treasured heritage skills.

CITB and Love Heritage logos

Festival Layout

Same for both days

Heritage skills that will be on show 

Location (Town)

Number on the map

WoodturningGillespie Carpenter’s Workshop6
The Conservation VolunteersKelly's Coal Yard10
ThatchingThe Diamond11
Signwriting and gilding Market and Court House14
PrintingBaird's Print Shop16
Paper quillingBallycultra Post Office18
Stained GlassRIC Barracks19
LimewashingThe Old Rectory & Basketmaker's Workshop25 & 20

Built Heritage Hub

Drop in and meet our Built Heritage Manager and the Construction Industry Training Board 

Times: 10:00-12:00 & 14:00-16:00

Reawakening Project Hub27
Musical instrument making National School34
Wool weaving Weaving Shed35

Location (Countryside)

Number on the map

BakingThe Old Rectory25
BlacksmithingLisrace Forge54 (furthest point in the festival)
Rag ruggingCoshkib Hill Farm43
PloughingCoshkib Hill Farm43
SilversmithingCoalisland Spade Mill44
StonemasonryCorradreenan Farm45
Woodturning (pole lathe)Meenagarragh Cottier’s House47
Saddler: Harness making Drumnahunshin Farm51
Dry stone walling Ballydown National School53

Activities to get involved in                                                     

Location (Town)                           

Number on the map

CraftsRIC Barracks (upstairs - lift available)19
Rag frame weavingBallydugan Weavers39
Straw rope makingCruckaclady Farmhouse46
Corn dolly makingDrumnahunshin Farm51
Ceramic tile makingHand and Pen Orange Hall52

Meet the Makers                                                                       

Location (Town)                             

Number on the map

Craft NI Makers' FairThe Diamond11
Musical instrument making National School34
Food demonstration Parochial House36
Gintlíocht exhibition Various locations throughout the site



Number on the map               

Armagh RhymersRoaming in the town11
Traditional musiciansVarious locations26, 30, 45, 46

Eat, drink & shop                                                                                                                                         


Number on the map              

Museum caféBallycultra Tearoom28
PubMcCusker's Pub30
Makers FairThe Diamond11
Sweet shopW. Carruth Corner Shop2
Household itemsMcAlinden's Hardware Shop33
Museum gift shop 1


“…without understanding the past, how can we hope to plan for the future?” 

Estyn Evans, 1942, Founding trustee of the Ulster Folk Museum



Meet the Makers

Stephen Ryan from Green Woodwork Ireland is based in the heart of Belfast’s Lagan Valley. With inspiration taken from traditional Irish life, each traditional woodcraft piece is carved by hand, using locally sourced hardwoods and traditional hand tools. Stephen is helping to revive an ancient form of woodland craft that has been practiced for thousands of years but has long since disappeared from our woodlands and workshops. 

Roberta Larkin is a stained glass artist based in Bangor. She works with both leaded stained glass and Tiffany glass, repairing and creating leaded stained glass panels for windows and doors, as well as intricate Tiffany designs for interiors. She also offers group and private workshops to share her craft.

Gary Orr is an artist and signwriter based in Carrickfergus. He has been working as a signwriter for over 30 years, specialising in high-quality hand-painted signs, gold-leaf gilding and wall murals. His work can be seen across the UK & Ireland adorning pubs, shops, homes and clubs. 

Ivor Kilpatrick is an experienced thatcher from Raphoe, County Donegal. Thatching has been in his family for generations and he is passionate about passing on his skills and knowledge of the craft. He also produces organically grown rye and flax for thatching. 

The team of skilled and experienced craftspeople from Historic Environment Division Moira Works Depot are responsible for maintaining, repairing and conserving Northern Ireland’s historic state care monuments. Historic Environment Division, which sits within the Department for Communities, is the government lead on the recording, protection, conservation and promotion of the historic environment of Northern Ireland.

Willie John has been demonstrating straw rope making at the Ulster Folk Museum for over 30 years and has a farming background and has a love of rural life and traditional craft.

Originally from Ballyclare, John Weir has a passion for carriage driving and regularly takes part in agricultural shows throughout Northern Ireland. John is one of the youngest horse ploughmen in the North of Ireland and is a collector of traditional horse harnesses.

The team at the Ulster Folk Museum are a special collective of craft demonstrators, visitor guides and first-person interpreters. Throughout the museum, you will have the chance to meet our talented demonstrators and see our makers at work, keeping traditional heritage skills alive for generations to come. Making and celebrating traditional heritage skills is who we are and what we do at the Ulster Folk Museum, with makers ranging from willow weavers, linen weavers, wool weavers, spinners, blacksmiths, printers and heritage carpenters.

Craft NI is the sector-lead body for the promotion and development of the design-led contemporary craft industry in Northern Ireland. Enjoy a specially curated craft fair supported by Craft NI located in the Diamond area of the town. Here you can purchase a unique piece of craft and witness demonstrations from the makers throughout the festival. 

If you have been inspired by some of the makers during your visit, you can drop into the 'Reawakening Hub' which we're calling the 'Built Heritage Hub' for the weekend to meet Isabel from CITB NI who will be able to tell you about upcoming training courses, the work of CITB NI and how to get involved in heritage construction careers. 

Claire is a silversmith and artist based near Annalong at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. Rural life and the landscapes she grew up around have a strong influence on her practice. Her work uses traditional silversmithing techniques to explore heritage, landscape and folklore.

An Droichead is an Irish language organisation that preserves and promotes the development of Irish language and culture through education, arts, family & community services, and outreach work. An Droichead are at the centre of the growing traditional music community in Belfast.

The Irish Saddler, qualified saddler and harness maker of the Society of Master Saddlers, Lucy Cushley has been working in Co. Down creating saddlery and leatherwork since 2016. Using traditional hand skills, she also runs a repair service to bring back leather items to their former glory. Lucy also uses this heritage craft to create new and exciting bespoke items from homewares and fashion accessories to feature films.

Following an apprenticeship with Coppice Woodland in Prickly Nut Wood in West Sussex Thomas found a love of wood that has continued ever since. Thomas currently runs his own Gardening and Tree Work business in the Ards & North Down Borough and practices Greenwood Work as and when projects arise.