Replica Famine ship ‘Jeanie Johnston’ sinks in value

Vessel that cost €15m to build now worth only €700,000, according to city council

Passing the Jeanie Johnston during the 94th Liffey Swim – the ship was valued less than five months ago at €700,000, but costs €240,000 a year to run as a tourist attraction. Photograph: The Irish Times

Passing the Jeanie Johnston during the 94th Liffey Swim – the ship was valued less than five months ago at €700,000, but costs €240,000 a year to run as a tourist attraction. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

The Jeanie Johnston replica Famine ship, which cost €15 million to build, has sunk in value to €700,000, according to Dublin City Council.

The ship is part of €8 million in cash and assets expected to transfer to the council once the Dublin Docklands Development Authority is abolished later this year.

The authority bought the ship in 2005 for €2.7 million from Kerry County Council and other shareholders including food company Kerry Group, Shannon Development Company and Tralee Town Council.

The ship, modelled on a 19th century emigrant ship, was commissioned in the late 1990s for £4.5 million. By the time of its completion in 2002, its cost had spiralled to almost €15.5 million, €13 million of which was State funded.

Docklands authority

The decision to abolish the docklands authority and transfer its functions to the council was made three years ago after the Comptroller and Auditor General found “serious shortcomings” in its activities, particularly in relation to the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend.

The council expects to acquire the authority’s assets in the autumn, once the dissolution act is passed by the Dáil.

The council has identified €5 million in docklands assets and €3 million in cash it expects to secure. However it will also take on costs, notably in relation to the operation of the Jeanie Johnston.

The ship was valued less than five months ago at €700,000, but costs €240,000 a year to run as a tourist attraction at Custom House Quay.

Operating the ship costs €70,000 a year, “dry docking” and repairs also costs €70,000 annually, and an additional €40,000 is spent on day-to-day maintenance. Some €30,000 is spent on marketing. Ticket sales to 20,000 visitors last year made €140,000.