The famous replica famine ship "Jeanie Johnston" is making an unscheduled stopover in Derry next week, according to the Assistant Harbour Master at Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission (LPHC). Bill Martin says the ship will visit Derry from Tuesday 19th to Wednesday 20th August and will berth at Queens Quay.
The “Jeanie Johnston” is leaving Galway on Sunday for the north coast and was planning to stopover at Rathmullan in Co Donegal. However, it emerged that the construction of timber fenders on the quay at Rathmullan now makes this stopover impossible, says the LPHC assistant harbour master. “The ship then contacted us to see if they could berth in Derry and we were delighted to say yes. It’s great to have the opportunity to let the people of Derry see such a magnificent vessel again,” says Bill Martin.
The Jeanie Johnston is now due to arrive in Derry on the afternoon Tuesday 19th August but should be visible along the north Donegal coast on its way into the Foyle. Captain Dermot Kavanagh says he and crew are sorry to miss Rathmullan, “but we are delighted that Derry port can accommodate us for a North West stopover and hope that people from both Derry and Donegal can come here to see the ship.”
The vessel is a copy of a 19th century sailing ship, one of the last of its kind before the steam ship era dawned. She operates as a sail training vessel, a Famine History Museum, and a corporate entertainment venue.
The recreation of the Jeanie Johnston is one of the most ambitious maritime heritage projects undertaken in Ireland. It was built at Blennerville, near Tralee, Co. Kerry, under funding from EU and Government funding, Shannon Development and FÁS, the IFI’s Wider Horizons programme and Kerry County and Tralee Town Councils.
Building the remarkable wooden tall ship involved a massive and complex undertaking, which began with in-depth research in 1993 and culminated in the completion of the graceful, triple-masted vessel in 2002. A number of groups of young people from Derry participated in both in the construction of the ship and the North American Voyage between 1999 and 2003 under the Wider Horizons programmes.
She was bought by Dublin Docklands Development Authority in 2005 and is operated for them by Rivercruise Ireland, who are based at Blennerville in Kerry. The Jeanie Johnston is captained and crewed by a team of highly skilled sailors. Anyone signing up for a Sail Training trip will be given the chance to learn Seamanship, climb the rigging, hoist the sails, heave lines, take the helm and participate in watch duties.