Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jeanie Johnston

Coffin Ships.

Between 1845 to 1850 one million starving Irish emigrated from Ireland. Forty percent did not survive the journey.

Hence, the ships they emigrated in became known as coffin ships. Today we toured a reproduction of such a vessel.

The original Jeanie Johnston, however had a much brighter history. All told, she transported over two thousand souls and suffered not one death.

The owner of the original Jeanie Johnston was unusual in that he provided adequate food and water, encouraged his passengers to use the upper deck for fresh air and exercise and, most importantly he employed a medical doctor to sail with and attend to the medical needs of the passengers. This was highly unusual for the time.

If only more owners had taken the equivalent of six months wages from each passenger and then provided adequately for them the death toll might have been much lower.

All told the population drop in Ireland due to the Great Famine was over two and a half million: part from starvation and part from emigration. Today's Irish population is still one million below it's population at the beginning of the potato famine.

Long term consequences still to be seen over 170 years later.

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