Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship

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Sometimes you have to risk death in order to escape it the brave, the bold and the desperate. Follow in the footsteps of those who fled the famine top reasons to visit

Meet the passengers from the past: A humanitarian captain; a noble doctor; a pregnant woman; a woman and her children in search of her husband; and 2 terrified orphans.

Can they survive the journey?

Experience a Famine ship firsthand. See the conditions they travelled in, imagine what the voyage was like and explore a tall ship.

Award-winning tour guides

Our passionate and knowledgeable guides are talented storytellers who will bring history to life and answer all your questions.

Informative 50-minute tour

An experience that will stay with you long after the tour ends. One of Dublin’s top tourist attractions.

The Tour

Follow in the footsteps those who fled the Famine. The Jeanie Johnston tells the story of the thousands of Irish people who fled the Famine and embarked on a treacherous voyage in the hope of a better life in North America. Step on board and you will be transported back in time to join them on their gruelling journey.

An informative 50 minute tour

The tour takes approximately 50 minutes and is led by one of our knowledgeable guides. The tour begins with a walk around the upper deck, where you will see the majestic masts, admire the craftsmanship and learn about the ship’s history.

They endured overcrowding, seasickness, disease, filth, starvation and storms…And they were the lucky ones.

Take a deep breath and go below deck to experience the cramped quarters where up to 250 passengers spent most of their time, only emerging for a half an hour of fresh air each day.

It cost 3 pounds 10 shillings to flee the Famine. 100,000 people paid with their lives.

Find out how they paid for it. Learn about their grim voyage in cramped and filthy conditions and the risks they faced from disease, starvation and disaster. Hear how they passed the time on their traumatic voyage and discover what fate awaited them.

Highlights

  • Learn how the Famine forced millions to flee the country

  • Retrace their gruelling journey

  • Experience what life was like onboard

  • Uncover fascinating personal passenger stories

  • Award-winning tour guides

  • Meticulous craftsmanship

  • Marvel at their beautiful tall ship

The history of the Jeanie Johnston

Cargo ship turned famine escape vessel.

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in Quebec in Canada in 1847 by Scottish-born shipbuilder and master craftsman, John Munn. It was purchased by Kerry-based merchants, John Donovan and Sons. Originally intended as a cargo ship, she ended up carrying a very different kind of cargo - desperate men, women and children fleeing the Famine. She carried emigrants out to Canada and brought timber back.

She made her maiden voyage from Blennerville, Co. Kerry to Quebec, Canada in 1848 with 193 passengers on board. She transported 2,500 Irish emigrants on 16 transatlantic voyages to North America.

Re-creating the Jeanie Johnston

This ship is an authentic replica of the original Jeanie Johnston. The re-creation of the ship was one of the most ambitious maritime heritage projects ever undertaken in Ireland. Following extensive research in 1992, the ship was designed by Fred M. Walker, former Chief Naval Architect with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. and Tthe re-creation project was modelled closely on the restoration of the 17th century Dutch ship, the Batavia.

A fitting memorial to Ireland’s Famine victims She was built at Blennerville, Co. Kerry, a project which took 6 years and was completed in 2002. Over 300 shipwrights and craftsmen were involved in the construction.

In order to be seaworthy, the ship had to comply with Irish and international maritime laws so she does incorporate some modern elements, like navigational technology and safety features, but, wherever possible, she has remained true to her original form.

Retracing the voyage

She enjoyed an illustrious sailing career from 2002 to 2008, retracing the Famine-era voyages from Blennerville to Quebec. She has sailed all around Ireland and Europe, as well as visiting several American ports like Washington DC, New York, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia and has even taken part in the Tall Ships Race in 2005. She has been moored at Custom House Quay since 2008.

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship

The famine in Ireland

Delve into Ireland’s dark history The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845 and lasted until 1852. The failure of the potato crop, the rise of food prices, disease and starvation killed over 1 million people and

forced another 1 million people to leave the country. Almost ¼ of Ireland’s population either died or emigrated. To escape the famine, first they had to survive the voyage. Many famine ships of the time were known as “coffin ships” and saw many deaths due to their unseaworthy nature, overcrowding, lack of clean drinking water, unsanitary conditions and the rampant spread of disease. It is estimated that up to 100,000 people died on board these ships. Remarkably the Jeanie Johnston defied the odds and saw no loss of life. Take the tour to find out how she did it.

School tours

Bring history to life with an unforgettable school tour. Bring the Famine to life for your class like never before with a trip to a replica of a real Famine ship.

  • Discover how the Famine forced millions of Irish people to flee the country.

  • Find out how they paid for their tickets for the Jeanie Johnston.

  • Hear the true stories of people who travelled on the ship, including many children travelling alone.

  • See what they looked like and how they dressed with realistic life-sized wax figures.

  • Imagine what the journey was like.

  • Find out about the harsh conditions on board.

  • Learn what happened when they reached their destination.

  • Explore a Tall Ship and marvel at the craftsmanship involved in building it and the skill it took to sail it.

The Docklands Area

Make a day of it at Dublin Docklands. While you’re here don’t miss your chance to experience all that Dublin’s Docklands has to offer. Why not make a day of it? From the haunting Famine Sculptures to the remarkable Diving Bell and the striking Samuel Beckett Bridge to the award-winning EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, there’s plenty to see and do. 

All that sightseeing is hungry work and you’ve come to the right place. With a tempting range of pubs and restaurants nearby, you’ll be spoiled for choice. 

Testimonials

Here’s what some of our visitors had to say:

“Gives visitors an insight into the lengths to which the emigrants had to go to try to

escape the horrors at home. The Famine Museum is rich in the terrible history of the

time and is a must see for all who visit Dublin.”

Michael H, North Carolina

“Our guide was an excellent storyteller and very engaging.”

Aoife M, Dublin, Ireland

“Learned a lot and reinforced the belief that I would not have had the guts to make that journey!”

Sara S

Address The Jeanie Johnston, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Phone +353 (01) 473 0111
Email reservations@jeaniejohnston.ie
Website http://www.jeaniejohnston.ie
Parish(es) Dublin
Category (ies) Heritage/Culture Tourist Attraction