Recreating the Ship
Bringing the Jeanie Johnston back to life
A remarkable feat of craftmanship
She was built at Blennerville, Co. Kerry, in a specially constructed shipyard next to Blennerville Windmill in Tralee. Over 300 shipwrights and craftspeople were involved in the construction, with workers from the US, Canada, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, England and Scotland working alongside the Irish team. In light of our shared heritage, the US and Canada offered assistance by donating items to the project and craft workers to help with the work.
While the original ship was made from Quebec Oak and Oregon Pine, the new ship mainly used wood from Irish forests. The frames were constructed from Oak, with Larch planks forming the hull, with Iroko and Oregon Pine decks and Oregon Pine masts and spars. The project took 6 years and was completed in 2002.
Modern navigation and safety features
In order to be seaworthy, the ship had to comply with Irish and international maritime laws, therefore she does incorporate some modern elements, like navigational technology and safety features, but, wherever possible, she has remained true to her original form.
Maintaining a Timber Tallship is quite a tall order
Timber ships require a huge amount of maintenance and the Jeanie Johnston is no exception.
How we overcome them
We have to do a large amount of the work ourselves and we use modern techniques to address old problems.
The damp, cold Irish climate is tough on timber and the brackish water of the River Liffey, which is saltier than freshwater but not as salty as seawater, make for difficult conditions. There are no suitable dry docks in the region or machines to lift her and there are very few shipwrights in Ireland have the skills to work on her.
Timeline of Repairs:
Rot was discovered on the Mizen Mast, making it unstable. A new section was fabricated but is still to be completed due to the difficulty of lofting a new mast and rigging onsite.
A new Transom (Stern support) was fitted.
The Jeanie Johnston was drydocked in Alexandra Basin for refurbishment works and a new Transom (a vertical reinforcement which strengthens the Stern) was constructed.
2020 Work carried out during COVID-19 closure.
The COVID-19 closure was tough but it had a silver lining – we used this time wisely to focus on any repairs that needed to be done.
We replaced the entire Port side Bulwark Rail, a significant challenge while afloat. Each plank weighs 80-100 kilos, the nails are 8” long and driven by hand and there were only two of us.
We created a new museum space to showcase the cargo function of the ship and the type of equipment and stores these ships had to carry on their voyages.
Opening the space up also increased the amount of space available for group visits.
We fitted new steps and opened up the ship’s Transom area for visitors.
We reinstated the ship’s Wheel. We repaired timbers and carried out many other minor repairs.
We designed and installed new tented space on deck to provide shelter and allow us to accommodate more people on deck.
We are fabricating a new Gangway. This will improve access and allow for greater visitor numbers.
Retracing the Voyage
The Jeanie Johnston 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, including Washington DC, New York, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and even took part in the Tall Ships Race in 2005. She was used as a sail training vessel, travelled around Ireland and made ambassadorial voyages abroad. She has been moored at Custom House Quay since 2008, where you can visit her today.
The Jeanie Johnston Timeline and Sailing Highlights
Extensive Research is conducted to design the replica ship.
Over 300 shipwrights and craftspeople from Ireland and worldwide work together in the purpose-built shipyard in Blennerville, Co. Kerry to build the ship.
The ship is completed.
Crossed the Atlantic twice, in difficult conditions, weathering extremely high seas and force 10 gales. Toured 23 ports along the Eastern seaboard of the US and Canada. Welcomed 100,000 visitors onto her decks.
Toured Ireland beginning with a visit to Dublin’s Maratime Festival and visiting Derry, Killybegs, Galway, Dingle and Cork. Made a sail training voyage to La Coruna in Spain
Took part in the Tall Ships Race in Waterford, along with 100 other ships from around the world, joining 2 other famous Irish tall ships, the Asgard 11 and the Dunbrody. This included a crew sail to Cherbourg. Also visited Whitehaven and the Isle of Man.
The Riverdance crew performed on board when she was moored in Dublin. Joined 8 other Tall Ships for the Belfast Maratime Festival. Attended Maratime Festivals in Liverpool and Bristol and The Volvo Regatta at Dun Laoghaire. Hosted public and private Day Sails out of Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Cork and Fenit and public and private Sail Training Voyages to and from ports in Ireland, France and Spain.
Visited La Coruna in Spain, Le Havre in France, Liverpool, Bristol, Cobh, Cork, Rathmullan, Fenit, Dingle, Waterford and Dun Laoghaire.
She is moored at Custom House Quay, where you can visit her today.
The Jeanie Johnston: Facts and Figures
Length Extreme 47m (154 Ft)
Length Overall 37.5m (123 Ft)
Beam 8m (26 Ft)
Draft 4.6m (15ft)
Air Draft 28m (92ft)
Displacement 518,000Kg (510 tons)
Wood Oak Frames, Larch Planking, Iroko and Oregon Pine Decks and Oregon Pine Mast and Spars
Rig 3 Master Barque with 4 Square Sails / Mast and Single Top Sails
Length of Rope Used in Rig 1,000m (3,280 Sq. Ft)
Number of Sails / Material 18, Duradon
Total Sail Area (Canvas) 645sq.m (6943sq.ft)
Range Under Sail 70 days
Range Under 1 Engine 17 days
Engines 2 Caterpillar (3306 Diesel Type 280 h.p. @2200rpm)
Generators 2 Caterpillar (3304 producing 105KVA)
Safety features 4 steel bulkheads; 6 watertight doors and five fire doors
Crew 40 (11 permanent and 29 trainees)
Port of Registry Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Registration Number 403505
Call Sign EIJL
The Jeanie Tour
One million Irish people fled Ireland during the famine. 2,500 took a gruelling voyage onboard the Jeanie Johnston. Take a journey back in time, get an insight into life on board a Famine ship and hear the stories of the people who made the gruelling voyage
Times & Prices
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK, TOURS DAILY
Mon-Sun: 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00
- Adults (Age 18 - 64)€14.00
- Senior (Age 65+)€12.00
- Student (ID)€12.00
- Child (Age 6-12)€8.50
- Infant (Age 0-5)FREE
- 2 Adults & 1 Child€31.00
- 2 Adults & 2 Children€37.00
- Additional Child€6.50
Combo: Jeanie + EPIC
- Adults (Age 18 - 64)€30.00
- Senior (Age 65+)€26.50
- Student (ID)€26.50
- Child (Age 6-12)€16.00
- Infant (Age 0-5)FREE