History 2017-07-02T16:52:17+00:00

JJ under sail

Jeanie Johnston Deckhouse

026 sq LR

History of the Jeanie Johnston

Jeanie logo moc3 no shadow LR

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in 1847 on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, Canada. Its architect was the Scottish-born shipbuilder and master craftsman John Munn. The 408 ton cargo ship was purchased in Liverpool by John Donovan and Sons of Tralee, Co.Kerry.

The original intention was for it to be a cargo ship but as the famine gripped Ireland, the demand for transport to North America became very large and so the company ran a successful trade bringing emigrants from Ireland to North America and returning with timbers bound for the ports of Europe.


The Jeanie Johnston made her maiden voyage on 24th April 1848 from Blennerville, Co. Kerry to Quebec with 193 passengers on board. Over the next seven years the ship made 16 voyages to North America carrying over 2,500 emigrants safely to the New World. Despite the seven week journey in very cramped and difficult conditions, no life was ever lost on board the ship – a remarkable achievement which is generally attributed to the ship’s captain, Castletownshend-born James Attridge and the experienced Ship’s Doctor, Dr Richard Blennerhassett.



All Standing – the Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, the legendary Irish Famine Ship by Kathryn Miles

Jeanie Johnston – A Voyage Against All Odds by Tom Kindre


Jeanie Johnston History press 019

Jeanie Johnston press


The replica ship was designed by Fred Walker, former Chief Naval Architect with the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. The recreation was modelled closely on that of the 17th century Dutch East India ship, the ‘Batavia’.

Work began in 1993 and was completed in 2002. The ship is built with larch planks on oak frames, but to comply with international maritime regulations some concessions to modernity had to be made.

Jeanie Johnston with Full sail

The Jeanie Johnston sailed to Canada and the United States in 2003, on a hugely successful trip which brought large crowds to see her in every port. She has since made several further trips.