Category: Archive

Famine ship Jeanie Johnston ready to sail

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The Jeanie Johnston Famine-era emigrant ship will take to the water on Tuesday, April 18, 142 years after the original ship last crossed the Atlantic.

The ship will be taken from her dry-dock home at Blennerville, near Tralee, Co. Kerry, by barge to Fenit, where the barge will be submerged, giving the Jeanie Johnston its first test of floating in the water.

This will mark the first splash in a voyage that the ship will undertake to the U.S. and Canada beginning at the end of next month.

The full-size sailing replica of the original Jeanie Johnston took 2 1/2 years to build at a specially constructed shipyard in Blennerville. The project cost £5.5 million, although much of the labor was donated free.

"The rebuilding of this remarkable ship has already attracted enormous public attention both in Ireland and North America," said John Griffin, chief executive of the Jeanie Johnston Project. "We look forward to promoting Ireland overseas and celebrating the enormous contribution of the Irish to every sphere of American and Canadian life," said John Griffin, chief executive of the Jeanie Johnston Project.

The Jeanie Johnston will visit more than 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Trenton, Quebec City, Montreal, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Baltimore

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Capt. Mike Forwood will command the Jeanie Johnston. Her first port of call will be Alexandria, the port of Washington, D.C., on or around June 21. President Clinton is expected to greet the ship.

At each port of call the ship will be open to the public and will feature a living history exhibit of life on board a mid-19th century Irish emigrant ship. A pavilion on the dockside will feature an exhibition on Ireland past and present.

The Jeanie Johnston, which plied the Atlantic between 1847 and 1858, is unique among Famine-era ships in that she never lost a passenger. As such, the ship never commanded the dubious sobriquet of "coffin ship."

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