The Jeanie Johnston is one of the most unique museums in Dublin.
The Jeanie Johnston was a ship built for carrying cargo across the Atlantic Ocean, but during the Irish Famine, it began carrying desperate passengers to America.
It’s described as a Coffin Ship; however, in 16 trans-Atlantic trips, nobody died, and they even had a baby boy born on board.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from where to grab Jeanie Johnston tickets to what to expect from the tour.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Jeanie Johnston
Although a visit to the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The Jeanie Johnston ship of today is a replica Tall Ship, identical in every detail to the original. She retired to the Docklands in Dublin and is now run as a museum on Custom House Quay. It’s a 15-minute walk from the City Centre or 12 minutes on the Number 151 bus.
The cost of admission to the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and museum is €12 for adults and €6 for children, with various rates available for groups and Seniors. The tours begin at the ship on Custom House Quay, opposite Jury’s Inn Hotel.
3. Opening hours
The tours take place from Thursday to Sunday at 9.30, and 11 am and 12.15, 1.30, 2.45 and 4 pm. There’s no option to take a wander around yourself outside of these hours, and it’s closed from Monday-Wednesday.
4. How long it takes
The Tour lasts about 50 minutes, and a knowledgeable guide will take you through the stories of the people who had to flee Ireland during the Famine. You will find out about the conditions they had to endure and what awaited them when they finally arrived in America.
5. Part of the Dublin Pass
Exploring Dublin over 1 or 2 days? If you buy a Dublin Pass for €70 you can save from €23.50 to €62.50 on Dublin’s top attractions, like the EPIC Museum, the Guinness Storehouse, 14 Henrietta Street, the Jameson Distillery Bow St. and more (info here).
Things you’ll see, do and learn on the Jeanie Johnston tour
Those that climb aboard the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship are in for a treat, with a wealth of history to be discovered.
The tours offer an insight into the stories of those who were forced to leave Ireland, many forever, along with the ship itself.
1. Follow in the footsteps of those who fled the Famine
Desperation makes people courageous, and none more so than the Irish escaping the Great Hunger. The Jeanie Johnston tells their story as they left their homeland for a better life in America.
Step below decks to experience what it was like for 250 people crammed into a hold meant for 40 at most. They spent 23½ hours there every day, only emerging for a half hour to get some fresh air.
And this was a boat with a decent captain – thousands of people died on other ships. The lucky passengers were those who only had to endure seasickness, starvation, and storms.
2. Meet the passengers from the past
The guides on the Jeanie Johnston tour are knowledgeable and often amusing, despite the sad stories. At least the Jeanie Johnston had one good news story, the birth of a baby boy named Nicholas Johnston Ryan.
The Donovan family from Tralee owned the ship, and most of the passengers were either tenants or former tenants availing of Poor Law legislation that allowed Donovan to pay their passage and claim it back later.
Win-Win for Mr Donovan as he also got the £3 10s for each fare, and the passengers thrived because he didn’t want his business to suffer because of any horror stories.
3. Experience a famine ship firsthand
As they stepped aboard, the immigrants would have been awed by the grandeur of the Jeanie Johnston and its promise of a new life to come.
They wouldn’t have had long to admire their surroundings, though, as getting them packed into their quarters would have been immediate. How long would they have waited, excitement giving way to anxiety before the ship finally pulled anchor?
The seasickness started, and dignity disappeared. Thankfully, they had a doctor and 30 minutes daily to bring their blankets outside and shake them in the fresh air while their quarters were washed out. Nobody died, though.
4. Discover the story behind the original ship
The Jeanie Johnston Famine ship was built in 1847 by a Canadian, John Munn. She was sold later that year to John Donovan & Sons, hardware merchants in Tralee. They had a large timber yard, and this figured in their purchasing decision.
Emigration up to this point had been sporadic, but by 1847 it was obvious that it would continue, so buying the ship was a sound business proposition; they could ship emigrants out and bring timber back.
Most of the passengers were from the Tralee area, so that was probably why they got such good care on the Jeanie Johnston – Donovan was protecting his local business.
Places to visit near the Jeanie Johnston ship
One of the beauties of the Jeanie Johnston is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Dublin.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. EPIC Museum (2-minute walk)
Epic by name and nature, you can spend hours here discovering the stories of our Irish diaspora at the EPIC Museum. Voted Europe’s best tourist attraction in 2019 & 20, the museum is entirely interactive. Stamp your EPIC passport, dance a jig or reel, or test your knowledge with the EIPC quiz, and loads more.
2. The Famine Memorial (3-minute walk)
Normal Smurfit commissioned The Famine statues in 1997, and it is dedicated to the Irish who were forced to leave Ireland during the Famine. The sculpture’s location on Custom House Quay is fitting as the Perseverance, the first famine ship to leave Ireland, sailed from here on St Patrick’s Day 1846.
3. Trinity College (15-minute walk)
The oldest university in Ireland, Trinity College, was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Catholics were admitted in 1793, and it was 1904 before women were allowed to study there. The old library, which includes The Long Room, is the largest in Ireland, and it’s also home to the famous Book of Kells.
FAQs about the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do I get Jeanie Johnston tickets?’ to ‘Is the tour really worth doing?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is the Jeanie Johnston tour worth doing?
Yes – it absolutely is. The Jeanie Johnston Famine ship offers a insight into the most harrowing time in Ireland’s history.
How much does it cost to tour the Jeanie Johnston ship?
The cost of admission to the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and museum is €12 for adults and €6 for children, with various rates available for groups and Seniors.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.