The Frank and Jane Gabor
West Virginia Folklife Center
on the campus of Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community and Technical College
1201 Locust Avenue
Fairmont, WV 26554
Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director Frank & Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center,
Abelina Suarez Professor, Senior Level,
English & Folklore Studies Fairmont State University
Mr. Noel W. Tenney, Folk Cultural Specialist
Frank & Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center
and Museum Studies Program Coordinator
Pierpont Community & Technical College
Roads to Appalachia Through Scotland and Ireland
July 5 - July 21, 2005
The excitement of fifteen days of learning about the "Roads to Appalachia" by traveling those roads themselves was without equal in a true understanding of the historical context of the Appalachian culture base. The experience began in Scotland and explored historical, folkloric, and societal elements of both Lowland and Highland Scottish culture. Travels to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Loch Ness, and the Isle of Skye explored these issues through visits to castles and museums, such as the Angus Folk Museum, the Highland Folk Museum, Culloden Visitor Center, and the Museum of the Isles/Clan Donald Center (the largest of centers for studying Scottish family history). Included in these days was also traditional celebrations of Scottish life and foods with a Scottish Evening including the "Ceremony of the Haggis," and the historic "get together" of the "caelie." The route of the Scotch-Irish (Lowland Scots) as they move across to Northern Ireland was studied.
The move to Ireland began in Northern Ireland and Belfast/Omagh where a visit to the Ulster American Folk Park fully explored the role of the Scotch-Irish in both British Isle and early American and Appalachian history. Of course, famous geological and historical sites were included. The move to the Republic of Ireland was our only encounter with the newly instituted monetary notion of the Euro. Most importantly the group had the opportunity to explore the area, historics, and tragedies that were created with the potato famine of the mid 1840's. A visit to County Roscommon and the Strokestown House/1840's Famine Museum not only reviewed that dark time in Irish history but established the base of understanding for the large immigration from that area to the United States and especially to central West Virginia state that the individuals were born in County Roscommon, Cork, Galway, or even Strokestown itself. What a wonderful way of understanding the arrival of the Irish Catholics in our area. Many other stops in Ireland and ending in Dublin illustrated the Appalachian background whether it be song, dance, legend, folklore, or geology.