Plans to sail a replica of an Irish famine-era ship across the Atlantic have been abandoned for the second year running because the vessel is still not seaworthy. The decision to call off plans to sail the "Jeanie Johnston" to North America this year was taken at a board meeting
of the project organizers after a marine expert reported the vessel would not be ready in time.
The ship was originally due to sail from Tralee on Ireland's southwest coast in May last year, but the voyage was postponed until 2001 because of delays in fitting out the three-masted barque. The project has so far cost around 10 million Irish pounds ($10.96 million), and has been supported by the Irish government, European Union and private donations.
The original "Jeanie Johnston" carried thousands of Irish emigrants from their famine-stricken homeland to a new life
in North America in the 1840s and 1850s, famously never losing a passenger to disease or the sea in 16 voyages. The period was one of mass Irish emigration as people sought to escape starvation after the potato crop was ravaged by blight. Many failed to survive the journey, perishing at sea in dreadful conditions on so-called "coffin ships".
Organizers of the "Jeanie Johnston" project, who hope it will still go ahead eventually, planned to sail the full-sized replica on a tour of more than 20 U.S. and Canadian cities, serving as a floating museum of daily life aboard a famine ship. - (Reuters)