by David Williams
A tall ship
Irish vessel featured on stamp will visit
SHE'S a triple-masted barque, 37.5 metres in overall length,
and she's one of the most famous of the 19th-century Irish emigrant vessels.
She's the Jeanie Johnston, and a full-scale replica of the tall ship will call
at two ports in New Brunswick this summer.
But before she
does, collectors can get an early sighting of the vessel on a 30-pence stamp
issued last Thursday by An Post, the Irish post office.
Those who had hoped to see the replica itself - which is being built at a
visitor shipyard at Blennerville, near Tarlee, County Kerry - will be
disappointed; the stamp shows only a plain, side-view drawing. The colours, are
subdued and the overall appearance is of an outline of a ship model, not a tall
Turns out there are few photographs of the
ship under construction, at least not that I could find on the many Web pages
on the Internet. In fact, the project's official Web site
is under construction itself and offers little information. This may be because
of delays that have been experienced. The replica was to have made its
historic, high-profile trans-Atlantic voyage to North America last autumn. The
launching is now set for April 18, The latest word is that the ship will set
sail May 7, arriving in Washington, DC on June 7. Altogether it will visit more
than 20 ports in the United States and Canada.
enough, this country's first incorporated and most Irish city Saint John - will
be her first port of call in Canada, from July 20 to 25. The tall ship will
then visit St. Andrews on July 25 and 26.
reason that St. Andrews has been added to the list. While both Saint John and
St. Andrews received thousands of Irish refugees from various vessels during
the famine years, a storm forced the Jeanie Johnston to make an unplanned visit
to St. Andrews on Nov. 2, 1853. A total of 195 immigrants disembarked and some
stayed to work on the railroad.
The visit of the tall
ship will be of special interest in Saint John, the home of the Marco Polo
Project. Unlike the Jeanie Johnson, the latest plan is to build a non-sailing,
land-based Marco Polo replica. Saint John's most famous vessel, of course, was
featured on a popular 45-cent stamp issued a year ago today. Most first day
covers of the stamp and souvenir sheet sold out quickly.
If you want more information on the Jeanie Johnston stamp or other stamps from
Ireland, write An Post, P.O. Box 1991, G.P.O., Dublin 1, Ireland. Their Web
site is www.anpost.ie
And while there don't seem to be any good photographs of the replica of the
famous Irish famine ship under construction, there is a nice watercolour
painting of her on the Jeanie Johnston Visits New Brunswick Web site at
www.jeaniejohnston.net/, which is also a good place to keep up to date on the
upcoming visit of the ship.
The story below was taken from the
Times Globe April 18/00 a local newspaper in Saint John, N.B.
Jeanie Johnston Sets Sail
A replica of one of the busiest vessels of the Irish Famine
period is almost ready for its Atlantic crossing and a stop in Saint
by Erin Dwyer
Times Globe staff
The launch of the emigrant ship Jeanie Johnston was to take
place today at the Blennerville shipyard in Ireland, marking the first step in
its voyage to North America.
It is expected to arrive
July 20 in Saint John.
Capt. Alwyn Soppitt, president and
CEO of the Saint John Port Authority, who co-chairs the local co-ordinating
committee with Dr. Daniel Britt, says a major welcome is being
"We're looking forward to her visit," he said
Work began 2 1/2-years ago to build a detailed
replica of the Jeanie Johnston, one of the busiest vessels of the Irish Famine
The triple-masted oak and steel beam replica
craft will be retracing the dramatic Atlantic crossing which brought many Irish
refugees to North America 150 years ago. Saint John will be her first Canadian
port of call, followed by St. Andrews.
She is also
visiting 13 ports in the United States as well as seven more in
Today, depending on the weather, the ship was to
be moved by barge from its dry dock home at Blennerville to Fenit,
The short journey across Tralee Bay will mark
the first step of the historic Millennium Voyage, which the ship will undertake
in May to North America.
In Fenit, its masts and spars
will be fitted. Eighteen sails, made from more than 1,700 metres of synthetic
canvas, and 1,000 metres of rope will go into her rigging. This will take about
two weeks to complete.
Capt. Mike Forwood will command
the ship on its sail to North America.
Capt. Soppitt can
only imagine what those aboard will experience as she travels over the
"I don't imagine it will be a carnival," he
"But there are a number of people who have paid
passage for the experience.
"I'm sure they will be much
better fed than the immigrants and have little better quarters, though still
The replica Jeanie Johnston will be in Saint
John from July 20 to 25 and in St. Andrews July 25 and 26. Full details of the
New Brunswick visit of this voyage will be released next
For more information, visit the Jeanie Johnston
Web site a www.jeaniejohnston.com
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