The Government has allocated £750,000 towards the £4.5 million cost of building a replica of the Jeanie Johnston famine ship.

The ship in which many Kerry people escaped the horrors of the famine as they fled to America is to be rebuilt. 

Escape from hunger meant death for many on board the coffin ships on the crossing to America during the Irish famine. The Jeanie Johnston is one such ship that transported Irish emigrants during the famine to America but the difference with the Jeanie Johnston is that it never lost a passenger or crew member.

Many emigrants boarded the ships at the windmill in Blennerville in Kerry, which has also been recently restored. The plan is to rebuild the Jeannie Johnston and sail to America following the journey of many Irish emigrants.

John Griffin Project Secretary on the project speaks to reporter Tom MacSweeney about the history of the Jeanie Johnson and plans for the building of a replica ship. 

Government funding for the project was announced by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring of the Labour Party. Spring says that he hopes this project will provide much needed investment into maritime heritage. It is estimated that up to 300 people will be employed in the shipyard during the three years construction, but the ship yard must first be built. The 300 young people will be trained in modern and traditional shipbuilding skills. The plan is to build the replica wooden ship using traditional methods.

According to John Griffin

The shipyard will be a visitor friendly shipyard... Visitors are welcomed there as the ship is being built.

Finance Director on the project Ian Barrett is leading the multi-million pound fund-raising drive and commends the support that the project has received locally. 

To coincide with the Jeanie Johnston Project the Irish 19th Century Emigration Research Bureau is compiling listings of the estimated six million Irish people who left Ireland for the US and Canada during the famine. One of their more specific tasks is to trace the descendants of a baby, Nicholas Johnston Ryle, who was born on board the Jeanie Johnston as it sailed out of Tralee. 

A 'Nationwide' report by Tom MacSweeney broadcast on 30 August 1996. This episode of 'Nationwide' is presented by Michael Ryan.