Looking for things to do on your next Dublin Trip? Then a visit to the Jeanie Johnston, an Irish Immigrant ship is must- experience. The Jeanie Johnston is a replica of a famous tall ship that brought Irish people to America. It was originally built in Canada in 1847 by John Munn, a Scottish shipbuilder.

Unique Experience of an Irish Emigrant Ship

Stepping inside the Jeanie Johnston will give you an in-depth experience of what many Irish immigrants had to go through as they sailed across to America.

It was a time when then the horrific Famine was taking place in Ireland. Many Irish citizens had no choice but to leave behind their life in Ireland in hopes of a better one in the United States. The Irish emigrants were filled with fear about what lay ahead, leaving their families behind and heading on a 3,000-mile trip to somewhere completely different was quite daunting.

The replica Jeanie Johnston ship, allows visitors to experience just how daunting it was with a tour around the tall ship. The Jeanie Johnston tour also helps to highlight the heartwrenching history of that era.

Jeanie Johnston Ship
Jeanie Johnston Ship (Photo Source: Flickr)

You’ll be transported back in time to over 150 years ago, as you get to experience just how the Irish Emigrants felt about their new promised future. The tour really brings to life how the ship looked. How cramped the rooms were and what it really felt like to be onboard during a harrowing time in Ireland.

Before you plan your trip to the Jeanie Johnston, a tall ship in Dublin let dive into its remarkable history.

The Jeanie Johnston History

The Original Jeanie Johnston created by Scottish Builder John Munn was sold to Irish merchants ‘John Donovan and Sons’. The merchants were from a small town in Kerry Called Tralee.

They started using the 408-ton ship as a cargo vessel that allowed them to successfully trade between Kerry and North American for numerous years. As the devastating Famine started to grip Ireland in the 1800s, the ship became involved in helping to bring Emigrants from Ireland to American. In return, they were able to bring back timber to ports in Europe.

The Jeanie Johnston Ship
The Jeanie Johnston Ship

Famine Voyages

Irish people were faced with diseases, starvation, evictions and death due to effects of the Great Famine. Many of which were forced to leave the Irish shores to avoided despair. The only available way for them to leave was by sea. Many ships just like the Jeanie Johnston took into service to bring Irish people to their new destinations. Not only where Irish people heading for American but also places like as Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

Emigration in Ireland was already a feature long before the Famine, but the Famine made leaving the only option for many poverty-stricken Irish citizens. As much as over 2 million Irish people fled their home country for a new beginning.

First Voyage to North America

On the 24th April 1848, Jeanie Johnston made her first immigrant voyage from Blennerville in County Kerry to North America. On board, this trip was 193 emigrants. Between 1848 and 1855 the ship made 16 voyages to North America.

It took one voyage around 47 days reach the new destination. The most passengers the Jeanie Johnston ever carried was 254 people. In comparison, the ship was only ever licensed to carried 40 people including the crew.

The Jeanie Johnston Ship
The Jeanie Johnston Ship (Photo Source Flickr)

Despite this and the horrific long voyages out at sea, no one onboard the ship ever lost their life. Much of the success of this has been hailed to the ship caption James Attridge. Captain James Attridge was the shipmaster until 1855, who had been captaining ships since he was 23 years old. First experiencing life at sea when he was 15 years old in 1820.

He did his best to not overload the ship and had a doctor on board the Jeanie Johnston for emergencies. Even with the very cramped ship and its basic conditions, it was well run and cared as best as it could for those onboard.

The Crew onboard the Ship

Not only was life onboard the Jeanie Johnston difficult for passengers but also for the crew members. The 17-man crew had the tough task of trying to keep order whilst dealing with confused emigrants.

It was a very emotional time with many people having to say goodbye to their loved ones as they watched them sail away never knowing if they would return again. The crew took it in turns monitoring the 4 hours watch before the ship set sail. Trying to get people on the ships and watching out for other vessels.

The crew also steered the ship with the help of a magnetic compass found in the front of the ship’s wheel. In bad weather, it would take two men to hold the wheel together to get through violent sea weather.

Much of the crew members came from all around Ireland, North and South, UK, Europe, Canada and America.

Surprise Birth on The Jeanie Johnston

It was a good thing indeed that the caption had brought a qualified doctor onboard the voyages. An unexpected baby boy joined the passengers of the ship in 1848. It’s one of the more happier stories of the Jeanie Johnston.

The baby boy was born the day the ship set off on its maiden voyage. Doctor Blennerhassett helped to deliver the beautiful healthy baby boy. In honour of his unusually birth, the parents named him Nicholas Johnston after the shipowner ‘Nicholas Donovan and the ship itself. Baby Nicholas Johnston was then proudly added to the passenger’s list.

The sinking of Jeanie Johnston

Eventually, in 1855 the ship was sold on to William Johnson of North Shields in England. Two years later, on a trip out to sea while it was filled with timber the Jeanie Johnston became overflowing with water in the Atlantic Ocean.

This forced the crew members to climb onto the rigging as the ship was slowing sinking. But after nine days they were rescued by a Dutch ship called Sophie Elizabeth.

Jeanie Johnston Replica Ship

The idea to create a replica ship of Jeanie Johnston was first conceived in the last 1900s. But it didn’t become a reality until 1993 after a feasibility study was conducted. By May 1995 the Jeanie Johnston Company Ltd was incorporated.

The design of the ship was brought to life by Fred Walker who was a Chief Naval Architect with the National Maritime Museum in England. His design was modelled closely with the original 17th-century ships in mind.

The ship was uniquely built by a group of international young people from various parts of Ireland, America, Canada and many more places. Of course, they weren’t building it alone, they had the supervision of experienced shipwrights to guide them. A wooden plaque listing all those involved in building the ship was placed on the foremast.

The Jeanie Johnston by the river
The Jeanie Johnston by the river (Photo Source: flickr)

The Jeanie Johnston cost 14 million Euro to created in 2002. By the end of 2002 the Jeanie Johnston was believed to be worth 1.27 million and by 2015 it is valued at 150,000 Euro.

The Ship Launching

There were plans to launch the ship at the Blennerville shipyard but that was put on hold as marine archaeologist discovered the 19th-century shipwreck within the channel.

To preserve the findings, the Jeanie Johnston was moved to the shores and placed onto a shallow draft barge. While there the ship was fitted with masts and sails before being transported to a small village nearby. On the 6th of May, the ship was officially launched by the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

The Jeanie Johnston replica ship sailed from Tralee, Kerry visiting over 32 American and Canadian cities and reaching over 1000,000 visitors. Jeanie also took part in the ‘Tall Ships Race’ from Waterford to Cherbough placing 60th out of 65 in 2005.

As it stands today the ship is owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority who purchased it for 2.7 million Euro. From 2006 to 2008 the ship took part in over 980 sails carrying more than 2,500 passengers. By 2009 the ship was declared unsuitable by the Department of Defence due to her lack of speed, her small crew size and her inability to participate in tall ship races.

Then in 2010, the ship was taken over by Aiseanna Mara Teoranta, a Galway company who turned the ship into a museum.

Unforgettable Tourist Attraction

Today the Jeanie Johnston replica lies in the heart of Dublin on the River Liffey where you can enjoy daily tours of the ship.

The 50 minutes guided tour is a memorable experience for anyone visiting Dublin. Not only is it about exploring the history of Irish emigrants but a chance to look at the incredible craftsmanship as you journey through the ship. It’s a worthwhile experience that’s not to be missed! Check out the video of remarkable ship below:

The Jeanie Johnston also offers an incredible story of humanity and courage of the Irish citizens. Like many emigrant ships of that time, it helped to pave a way for Irish people to influence and change the world.

Have you had the chance to visit the historic Jeanie Johnston ship yet? Let us know about your experiences below!

Also, check out related blogs that might interest you:

Where was the Titanic Built?| Stories of Bravery on the RMS Titanic| SS Nomadic – The Titanic’s Sister Ship|



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