Step aboard the Jeanie Johnston in Dublin's Docklands and learn the stories of those who left Ireland for a better life across the ocean.
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My guest today is David Cleary, Head of Sales at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and The Jeanie Johnston, an Irish Famine Story.
If you've been listening to the podcast a fair amount of time you've heard about EPIC in podcast episode 31.
Since its opening in 2016 EPIC has been named the top visitor attraction in Europe 3 years in a row (2019, 20, 21). It's an astounding experience and one I think every visitor to Dublin should make time for (2 hours at the minimum).
Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship in Dublin
Jeanie Johnston is an authentic replica of an Irish-owned famine ship that sailed from Dublin during some of the worst years in Irish history, 1845 thru 1852 – the Irish potato famine.
The ship is located on the harbour in the River Liffey, directly across from EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.
The Jeanie Johnston stands out above other so-named ‘coffin ships' as it had a reputation for looking after its passengers. The ship was not overloaded and even had a qualified medical doctor on board. In all its 16 transatlantic voyages not one person perished.
Conditions on the ship were cramped, but passengers were provided with daily rations and a bit of time on deck each day for fresh air.
Visiting the Jeanie Johnston in Dublin
When you tour the Jeanie Johnston you will hear the stories of the passengers. You will learn why they left Ireland, where they left from, what life was like onboard the ship, and even their experiences after arriving in North America.
Climbing belowdecks of the Jeanie Johnston is an emotional experience. You can easily put yourself in the shoes of the people fleeing Ireland. The feelings of worry, fear, and hopelessness surround you in the dark, cramped space.
Above decks you'll have beautiful views of the Dublin skyline, as well as the Samuel Beckett Bridge, a cable bridge inspired by the Irish harp.
Dublin's Docklands Area
The Docklands Area, in the center of the city, is built around the docks and Port of Dublin. In the past few years the area has changed. It used to be filled with warehouses and industrial buildings. Now new buildings housing technology companies sit next to historical sites. Pubs and restaurants fill the area and it's a really vibrant place to explore.
The Docklands are a 10 minute walk from O'Connell Street. Walking along the river allows you to feel the history of Dublin while seeing the future of the city.
The National Famine Way
The Famine Sculptures in the Docklands stand at the end of the National Famine Way. The 165 km walk begins at Strokestown House in County Roscommon and recreates the route of 1490 emigrants that were evicted from Strokestown Estate during the famine.
Within EPIC you can visit the Irish Family History Centre. You can learn more about your own family history by booking genealogy services, in person or virtually.
Learn more in my chat with historian and genealogist Declan Bready in podcast episode 88.
Plan Your Visit to the Jeanie Johnston
Both the Jeanie Johnston and EPIC are included in the Dublin Pass.
David's 3 Top Tips for Visiting to Dublin
Just walk around the city. Dublin is a small, compact city and you can walk everywhere. It is truly like walking through history. Let the sights, sounds, and vibrancy of the city surround you.
Enjoy the local pubs and restaurants. As you stroll follow your gut. If you like the look of a place go in. Bonus: restaurants post their menus outside so you can see what's on offer. Check out the Long Hall pub.
Visit Phoenix Park. Take the Luas (surface level light rail) and explore. Dublin Zoo is located here and there is also a heard of deer.
Take the train (DART) to Howth. It's a beautiful fishing village. Enjoy the walk around the peninsula and reward yourself with fish & chips.
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