Millennium Voyage Abandoned
For The Second Time
26th June 2001:
The Board of the Jeanie Johnston Project decided at a Meeting held in Tralee this afternoon that the replica famine ship would not sail to America, as originally planned. The decision followed a report from maritime technical experts, who examined the state of preparedness of the vessel, that technical systems, crew training and other fit-outs could not be completed in time to allow the ship to safely make an Atlantic crossing this year.
The Board has now requested a meeting with Mr. Frank Fahey, Minister for the Marine, who has expressed his disappointment at the decision to cancel the voyage. The Minister has called for a constructive review of the whole project, the cost of which increased from an initial £3million to over £10million. He has urged the Board to ensure the completion of the vessel and has indicated that he will respond positively to their request for a meeting. He said that it was a national heritage project which should be completed, but the problems which had occurred could not be ignored and the difficulties would have to be resolved.
Meanwhile, the news has been greeted with shock not only in Kerry but throughout the country and abroad as well. The devastating news has saddened the many thousands of supporters locally as well as the many who had been visiting the ship while she was moored in Fenit for the past year in preparation for her historic maiden voyage. Those whose worked fervently on the ship for the last fifteen months so as to bring it up to the Department's stringent standards were also extremely disappointed. The village of Fenit and the town of Tralee were both quieter than usual this afternoon as the community considered the implications of the Department of the Marine's report on the future of this momentuous project.
In the States the decision to once again postpone the transatlantic crossing is expected to be greeted with dismay as plans for the visit by the ship to many famous ports are thrown into disarray. The huge significance of the Jeanie Johnston's arrival in North America and Canada was expected to create not only an increased renewal of interest in all things Irish but also a valuable source of income to help pay for the ambitious project.
As the Jeanie Johnston rests silently tonight in Fenit harbour awaiting her final fate, we can only think of the enormous amount of time, effort, energy; the planning, the money and the hopes and dreams of all of those involved in the project and pray that this latest in a series of glitches is only that - a temporary set-back and that the great ship will eventually cross the Atlantic, as originally planned. For now, however, her anchor is firmly down.
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