Places to visit in Europe

Jeanie Johnston

Jeanie Johnston
A life-size replica of the Jeanie Johnston, a triple-masted barque, is being constructed at a special visitor-friendly shipyard in the historic village of Blennerville, near Tralee.

The "Jeanie Johnston", built in Quebec in 1847, was the most famous of the Irish 19th century emigrant vessels and logged 32 Atlantic crossings between 1847 and 1858, a time when a 3,000-mile voyage was fearfully hazardous. In the era of disease-ridden "coffin ships", the Jeanie Johnston had a remarkable safety record, never losing a passenger to disease or the sea. Even when she went down, waterlogged, in mid-Atlantic in 1858, all passengers aboard got off safely, preserving her unblemished record. Now, with the rebuilding of a life-size replica which will be completed in the year 2000, visitors can visit the shipyard and observe traditional shipbuilding techniques. A guided tour features the various stages of the vessel’s reconstruction, explaining the work of the shipwrights, metal workers, riggers and other craftsmen who are bringing the ship to life.

In the Visitor’s Centre, multi-lingual display panels (in German, French and English) give further information about the development of timber ships, the design of emigrant vessels, the historical background to Irish emigration, and the tools and trades involved in shipbuilding. When the ship is complete, she will undertake her maiden voyage to North America, retracing the route of the 19th century emigrant vessels and calling at Quebec, St. John, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. On her return she will rebirth at Blennerville Quay and lay down her gangplanks to welcome visitors, whilst on board, actors in costume replay the drama of 19th century emigration.

Preparatory visits for teachers. Information available on request. Although there is no specific teacher’s pack, teachers wishing to focus on a specific theme can request information for use in the classroom. "The Jeannie Johnson Project" offers a valuable insight into Irish emigration. Issues relating to the Great Famine, social conditions, countries, and ports of destination are addressed. Furthermore, 19th century techniques for building sailing ships can be observed, together with a look into the lives of passengers and crew, fares, provisions, etc. Guided tours may be taken in French, English and German. The project is part of a larger regeneration project which also features the Blennerville Windmill, the largest working windmill in Ireland, and the Tralee and Dingle Steam Railway between Tralee and Blennerville. Also to be visited is Kerry The Kingdom which relates the history of Kerry.

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