I am not too long home from Omagh. I do mystery shopping as a little side-line for myself and it happened today that I was able to arrange a few visits in Omagh and it's only about 30 mins from where I live so I hopped in the car and took the jobs, glad for a change of scenery.
It was only while I was driving around the town that I thought to myself, "You know, I've always liked this place." I was sitting in the car at the traffic lights in the main part of town and I was looking up at the Market Street, bustling away with happy afternoon shoppers and I realised that what I was looking at was the same place that many of the people reading this review would recognise from the devastation on the 1998 Omagh Bombing. My mind flashed back to that time. In front of me I no longer saw the happy modern town that I had been looking at. My mind had substituted that image with the footage that is now implanted in our brains. For a split second I saw carnage, ruin. I felt grief and sadness, then within a second I was back in the present. I looked at the bustling shops and how people had picked themselves up from that horror and had made their town something wonderful again.
I go through Omagh regularly to get to places. But I don't often have reason to stop. However I am familiar with the town. I find it very easy to drive through. My goodness, they really love their traffic lights in this place. Every where you drive you will find yourself direct by happy bright traffic lights. It makes it easy to work your way around. But on the other hand for drivers it can be difficult to find somewhere to park. I tried three car parks today before I actually found a space and that was 11am. I would have been fine if I had wanted to park in one of the retail parks on the outskirts of the town but today I needed to be close to the main street.
In the main shopping area of Omagh you will find a lot of the Multi-nationals. The Main Street has been completely reinvented since it was bombed and it looks so fresh and clean. Is it wrong to say it looks 100 times better than it did before it was bombed? I think the facelift that this area has got is a testament to the council and the people who live in the town.
There are a few retail parks in Omagh which house the likes of Halfords, New Look, BM Bargains etc... and these are really quite easy to find.
----Climate and Location--------
I heard a funny little fact about Omagh a few days ago. It is apparently both the cloudiest and dullest place in Northern Ireland statistically! It also has a history of flooding due to it's location on the River Strule.
Omagh has a good central location. It is easily accessible to towns such as Derry/Londonderry, Strabane, Enniskillen, Dungannon and Cookstown. This is why it holds it's own council offices and the education board for the area.
------ What to do when you're there? -------
Just outside the town you have the Ulster American Folk Park, which is a great place to visit as a tourist. It is a village from olden times set in a forest. It shows life in Northern Ireland hundreds of years ago and it also shows the emigration to America than many people from here undertook.
There is a place called the "Land of Little Animals" and it is on the same road as the Folk Park. It is like a petting farm. We took our kids there recently and they absolutely loved it. The staff were great and very friendly
In Omagh there is a theatre called the Strule Arts Centre. If shows are your thing you could always ring up and find out what's on.
If you are sporty there is Healy Park, the home of Tyrone GAA, unfortunately there is no 'Top-flight' soccer team in the town any more, but there is a rugby team called the 'Accies' that might be of interest.
-------Food and Drink-------
You'll find lots of little cafes and restaurants in the main part of town, and then there are some good hotels in the area. The Silverbirches and the Mellon Country Inn are two that spring to mind and may be worth popping in to.
So that's a quick round up on Omagh in general. I think it is all too easy to always remember the past, and it isn't that I think Omagh's troubled past should be forgotten, I just believe that it is nice to let people know that this town faced horror. But they didn't lie down and let it ruin them. They got right up again and built a future for themselves in the face of terrorism. The people were never going to be broken.
RIP to the 29 innocents and unborn babies on Market Street that day :(
A wonderful day out for all ages. The Ulster American Folk park is situated 3 ½ miles from Omagh town and the opening times from April to September are Monday to Saturday 10.30 to 4.30 and closes at 6.00 on Sundays and Public Holidays the price for a family is £10.00 . The wed site address is www.folkpark.com , e-mail's firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also many special events on all over the summer months check the wed site for details. The museum celebrate the emigration to North America of over 2 Million people of Ireland over the last 200 years. An event that has truly shaped modern history especially modern Irish history. The Park is divided in to 3 parts the first is Ireland before the people left for America and going though the real houses that the people live in you can get to see why , with lovely informative talks by museum attendants dressed in the clothes of the time. The park is great for people with difficulty walking or young children as everything is quite close together. The second part is the ships quay from where the people departed, this also included a life size replica of a ship from that time that transport them to America. Be prepared as a adult to be shocked by the conditions that the people had to live in ( the kids will love it to run around in LOL) and find out why they were called " Coffin ships". The third part is the arrival in America with houses, shops, bars etc. all with the products of the time then you go around some of the typical houses of that era in America. Even in the hard time of the past you will see that a little money will go a long way to make life easier for you and your family, maybe even more that today. If you come away with anything from this museum / park you will be thankful that you live in the 21 Century at less for health and material things . Were the people happier then I couldn't say , but maybe after a visit you will be able to tell me. Living hi
story at it's best.