Tyrone History Museum to open March 17-18 for special Irish Heritage Week celebration

The Tyrone History Museum won’t officially open its doors until April 1, but visitors will be treated to a few special displays on March 17 and 18 in honor of Tyrone’s Irish Heritage Week celebration.
The museum will be open Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. both days.
Several displays will be set up and of course the theme will revolve around St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland.
Alice Mulhollan has graciously allowed the museum to display her collection of Celtic crosses.
It is said that the Celtic cross is directly linked to St. Patrick himself. After his ordination as a priest, Patrick was sent to Ireland with a dual mission – to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.
Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth.
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire.
He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.
After viewing the Celtic cross collection, visitors to the museum can check out some information from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, which will also be on display. The information was received in 2004 when the Rotary Club of Tyrone participated in an exchange program with a Rotary club in Ireland.
A small exhibit will also be set up featuring the Irish Brigade.
Another exhibit will provide visitors with a look at the Irish Flats, while photos and newspaper articles from the 1936 flood will also be available for viewing. A handout regarding the flood will also be provided to interested individuals.
Individuals traveling route 453 from Tyrone to Huntingdon, will notice the Birmingham Bridge, which spans the Little Juniata River, leading to the Irish Flats. In its heyday, the flats boasted several houses, a store and a railroad station.
At 15 feet wide, the bridge crossing the Little Juniata River contains decorative panels with clover-leaf cutouts adorning the lateral bracing. The Birmingham Bridge has been listed as a historical site since the Through Pratt Truss bridge has become a rare site, as many are being replaced with newer, more modern bridges.
Crossing the bridge will lead one to the Irish Flats, which is currently home to one family. However, at one time it was a bustling town.
When the Cambria Steel Company, out of Johnstown, set up operation in the area of Irish Flats, mining several limestone quarries and shipping the product back to Johnstown, it brought with it a town, complete with approximately 25 houses to accommodate employees. There was also a store and homes for the superintendent and clerk.
A flood in 1936 took out all of the housing across the bridge, except the superintendent’s and clerk’s homes. Today, only the clerk’s house still stands to remind passersby of a prior time.
With so many exhibits planned in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the History Museum will definitely be a worthwhile stop while out and about checking out the various activities next weekend. So, take a moment to stop in and catch a glimpse of some St. Patrick’s Day history as well as our town’s link to Ireland.
The museum will open with its regular schedule beginning April 1. It will then be open each Sunday and Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m.