The Jeanie Johnston: The Legendary Irish Famine Ship

For St. Patrick’s Day, the story of the legendary tall-masted ship – the Jeanie Johnston – that brought thousands of Irish from famine to America.

Replica of the Jeannie Johnston (Kathryn Miles)

Replica of the Jeannie Johnston (Kathryn Miles)

For many Irish-Americans, the story of emigration to this country begins in near-panic and desperation.  In 1845, a terrible blight hit Ireland’s great staple food, the potato.  Governments fumbled, and famine followed.

A wave of Irish men, women and children looked across the Atlantic to flee, to survive.  Many of the ships that carried them were infamous.  “Coffin ships,” they were called, with mortality rates up to 70 percent on the voyage.

One of those tall-masted ships seemed charmed.  A miracle.  Deathless.

This hour, On Point:  before St. Patrick’s Day, the tale of the Jeanie Johnston.

-Tom Ashbrook


Kathryn Miles, author of “All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanine Johnston, the Legendary Irish Famine Ship.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Herald (Ireland) “On a chilly, overcast morning in early March, the Jeanie Johnston, with her proud, high masts and string of lights along her deck, is a very pleasing sight. Surrounded on all sides by modern, glass-fronted office blocks, the old-fashioned ship looks gallant and defiant. She speaks of another time.”

BBC News “A variety of potato at the heart of the Irish famine is making a return to cooking pots after almost 170 years. The Irish Lumper potato has been cultivated once more by County Antrim farmer Michael McKillop who has a keen interest in history.”

Excerpt: “All Standing” by Kathryn Miles


The Jeanie Johnston’s Journeys

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