In the town of Strabane, County Tyrone, Gray’s Printing Press Museum contains a creative display of hand printing presses and equipment dating back to the 19th century. Located just 45 minutes from the Ulster American Folk Park, the museum tells an interesting tale of many Irish Americans from of Ulster Scots descent who went into the burgeoning print industry, and its connections to the trade in Strabane.
From the street, the building looks like a charming old-world coffee house, while it retains the sign "Gray, Printer" over door.
In fact, inside the front door is a delightful vintage tea room, which serves delicious soups, sandwiches, salads, breads, scones and other home-made treats. The cafe is a business of itself, and is regularly busy with patrons who are not attending the museum.
Printing Press Museum
Note: Open Saturdays only, March through September only
Visitors must pass through the tea room, and on through a pretty country garden, to reach the print museum itself. Established in 1796, Gray's Printers was once a fully functioning printing press, but now commemorates the days when Strabane was the most important town in Ireland for the business of publishing.
Some of the exhibits focus on the connection to a group of Scotch-Irish Americans, most famously John Dunlap, credited with founding Pennsylvania Packet, America’s first daily newspaper. Dunlap is also printed the first 500 signed copies of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. See also: Why are there so many Irish in America?
As well as looking at historical exhibits, children can see and learn how newspapers are printed -- or were printed, as we move to an age of digital devices! There are also some audiovisual presentations.
See official site for more details on prices and opening times.
Image by Conor Stanley.