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The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum

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Walking down the Dublin Quays, you quickly become surrounded by modern, sharp-edged stone, steel and glass buildings in Dublin's trendy financial services district. The riverside is surrounded by sophisticated cafés and ethnic restaurants. Against this backdrop, a ship from another time seems to have transported from history to the present, docked in the River Liffey. Its three tall wooden masts stand proud, rocking gently in the sea breeze.

The Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship is a replica of a 19 th century ship originally built in Quebec, Canada. The original ship was has a very significant history for Ireland. It transported hundreds of Irish passengers to the docks of New York, Baltimore and Quebec during the years of the Irish famine and beyond from 1848-1855, all in search of a new life in the ‘New World'.

The ship is a beautiful work of art. It is approximately 30% smaller than the original ship would have been. While the original would have carried up to 240 passengers at a time, this replica ship will only take 40 for safety. The current replica ship was built in the UK but bought by the Irish government. A previous replica had been built in Blennerville, Co. Kerry in the south west of Ireland (where the original ship's maiden voyage began), but disaster struck and it was destroyed by a fire.

The original ship made sixteen journeys during these years, carrying over two thousand passengers. The journeys would have been perilous; the passengers forced to stow in the hold for ten weeks at a time. Many Irish emigrants died in these journeys on other similar; having survived the famine, they were killed by the easy spread of disease and infection being couped up together for weeks. However the Jeanie Johnston has an impeccable safety record. No crew or passengers were ever lost. This success is usually attributed to the captain not overloading the ship and the presence of a ship doctor. Even when the ship sank in 1858, no lives were lost.

The ship is open for visitors and guided tours are run daily. A tour of the replica Jeanie Johnston enables visitors to experience what it might have been like on board a famine ship during the Famine years. Tours begin at the ship. If you complain about today's budget airlines, you will no doubt be horrified by what people endured on this mode of transport. Once onboard, visitors get to see and feel the experience of 150 years ago. The bare wooden planks for bunks where people would have been squeezed relentlessly together, piled claustrophobically on top of each other like prisoners in a medieval jail. All would have been unused to such long sea voyages. On the deck, visitors have the opportunity to inspect the skill and craftsmanship by all involved in build of this model wooden tall ship, one of the final ships of this style to sail the Atlantic in the 19th Century . . Visitors leave, touched by the reality of that experience and with a deep appreciation for the struggle of the people of that era.

Tours of the ship start from the ship itself. There is an entrance fee.

Morning tours depart at 11:00am and 12:00pm

Afternoon tours depart at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm

 
 

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