Jeanie being built at Blennerville
Built at Blennerville
Jeanie at Fenit pier
Fitted at Fenit Pier
Jeanie's sea trials
Jeanie's Sea Trials
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The Jeanie Johnston Chronicle

Launch Day 1 - Monday 18th April, 2000

Jeanie Johnston
Monday, 18th April, 2000

The day the Jeanie Johnston was supposed to feel the water for the first time. Since mid-day the sleepy village of Blennerville was buzzing with anticipation and in a carnival atmosphere......Civil Defense volunteers in bright yellow jackets were everywhere, directing traffic and pointing out parking spaces. The Kerry local radio roadcaster was parked near the shipyard, the Guinness bunting decked the beer garden at the rear of Quane's, a local pub. The large, blue flat-bottomed barge sat at the end of the slipway, awaiting the hull of the Jeanie, to transport her the short distance down Tralee Bay to Fenit. There she will be fitted out and rigged ready for launch during June.

In the shipyard itself, I experienced the sight of the hull close up for the first time. Larger than she seemed from a distance, she reminded me of one of the large whales upon whom shoals of small fish attend, the craftsmen working so feverishly on her hull. Some welding the supports to carry her weight to the barge, some checking joints, many just standing around, arms folded, chatting to the sight-seers about how she had been constructed. Her Captain, Mike Forwood, a tall, jovial Englishman criss-crossed the shipyard, checking every detail.

Captain Mike Forwood of the Jeanie Johnston
Captain Mike Forwood of the Jeanie Johnston

The day wore on and the 5pm launch time approached, but still the men worked on. The TV cameras failed to arrive, no doubt having been tipped off that the launch would be postponed until tomorrow, again at 5pm to catch the height of the spring tide. But, sandwiches had been made, there was plenty of beer, so, being who we are, we decided to have a party anyway. The barbecue was lit, the music started up and everybody got into the spirit of the launch-that-wasn't party. The weather was kind to us, the day had been beautifully sunny and warm, and the evening was dry. The atmosphere and craic in the village in and out of the 2 pubs was mighty. We'll probably have another party tomorrow and every day until the Jeanie Johnston is finally launched!

A view of the shipyard from Blennerville bridge The shipyard from Blennerville Bridge. The barge awaits the Jeanie to take her to Fenit for final rigging.
The hull of the Jeanie Johnston inside her shipyard. Final welding of the platform which will roll her down onto the awaiting barge continues. the hull of the Jeanie Johnston
carpenters doing a final check on her hull Carpenters do a final inch by inch check on the Jeanie's hull for seaworthiness, from a platform suspended by ropes.

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The following day,
Tuesday 19th April 2000

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