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Dunbrody Famine Ship

On many of our tours we take you to visit John Nolan's home town of New Ross, Co. Wexford, home of the Dunbrody Famine Ship.  The ship is docked just a few short blocks from John's family Pub  P. Nolan's.  With every visit to the Dunbrody comes a visit to the family pub.

The History of Dunbrody

The original Dunbrody was built in 1845 in Quebec. She was commissioned along with 7 sister ships by ‘William Graves & Son’, a merchant family from New Ross. She was built by the expert shipwright Thomas Hamilton Oliver, an Irish emigrant from Co. Derry. The building of the ship took only six months and was supervised by her first master Captain John Baldwin, who captained her from 1845 to March 1848.
Designed as a cargo vessel the Dunbrody’s main cargos where timber from Canada, cotton from the southern states of the U.S.A. and guano from Peru.Dunbrody Famine Ship

In 1845, the very year of her launch, famine struck Ireland. With the potato crop failing and food prices soaring, widespread starvation would soon force more than a million people to flee the country. So many people left, that there were not enough passenger ships to carry them all. Entrepreneurial merchants, like the Graves’, took the opportunity to fit out their cargo vessels with bunks to meet the extra demand. Between 1845 and 1851 the Dunbrody carried thousands of emigrants to North America. Lax regulation allowed a ship the size of the Dunbrody to carry anywhere from 160 passengers to over 300. In 1847 she is recorded as carrying 313 passengers to Quebec. Many of her passengers were tenant farmers from the estates of Lord Fitzwilliam in Co. Wicklow, and Viscount de Vesci in Portlaoise.

Only two classes of passengers were carried by he Dunbrody; cabin passengers, paying between £5 and £8; and steerage passengers, paying between £3 and £4. As the average farm labourer could expect to make little more than £1 per month, even a steerage ticket was beyond the means of many people. Cabin passengers had substantial food and services provided. Steerage passengers, though, largely had to fend for themselves.

By 1847 the potato crop had failed for 3 years in a row, and mass emigration was underway. Within the first open months of spring, 40 ships were waiting to disembark at the quarantine station at Grosse Ile in Quebec. With the facility utterly overwhelmed by the numbers arriving, many people were forced to wait for weeks before they could even leave their ships. In May 1847 after finally disembarking his passengers, Captain Baldwin wrote to William Graves reporting, “the Dunbrody was detained in quarantine for five days because there were too many ships queuing in the St. Lawrence River. Doctor Douglas is nearly single-handed… everyday, dozens of corpses are thrown overboard from many ships… I have heard that some of them have no fresh water left and the passengers and crew have to drink the water from the river. God help them!”

Although the Dunbrody was detained at Grosse Ile on a number of occasions, her onboard mortality rate was very low. This was, without doubt due to her good and humane captains, Captain Baldwin and his successor Captain John W. Williams. On more than one occasion, emigrants writing back home praised their care and dedication to both crew and passengers. Thanks to a well-organised overseas mail service, the Captains were also able to remain in regular contact with William Graves.

The Graves Family continued to operate the Dunbrody until 1869, when she was sold to another company. In 1874, while en route to Quebec from Cardiff, her captain chose not to wait for a pilot to assist him in navigating the St. Lawrence. He paid for his impatience when she promptly ran aground. She was fortunate to bought by a salvage company, who repaired and resold her. Unfortunately, in 1875 she suffered a second and fatal grounding. Sailing for Liverpool with a cargo of timber worth £12,500, a fierce gale blew her off course and onto the shore of Labrador. While the exact details are not known, having run aground fully laden with a heavy timber cargo it is assumed that her aging hull was damaged beyond economical repair. She was abandoned at last, left to break up over time and rot away to nothing.



Worry Free Travel

Want to enjoy your trip and not worry about doing all of the planning?  Where should we go, how long should we stay, what should we see, how long will it take to get there?  Over the course of the past 20 years that we have been escorting tours to Ireland everyone who has traveled with us is so thankful that they don't have to even think on our tours.  We have planned it all for you and we'll be with you every step of the way.  We'll tell you what time breakfast is and what time the bus is leaving...all you have to do is show up.  We understand that many people don't like the structure of a tour, but we have converted many who have felt that way.  They went with great hesitation and when we returned they were the first to put in their deposits for the next year.  We say, give it a try.  We aren't pushy, we don't make you get up at 6 am like many tours.  We take you on pub crawls, show you where the best shopping is, good restaurants and help you with any special needs you may have.  We'll take you down some of the back roads and meet friends and family along the way.  See the beauty of Ireland from a comfortable modern coach and hear the history of the area as you travel through the rolling hills and valleys.  Listen to the history of the area as our driver/guide tells you about the castle you are looking at or the battle that went on there thousands of years ago.  Make new friends, sit back and relax.  Have a pint for lunch and not worry about driving.  You can experience the country more fully with less hassle.  We give you as much free time as we can and you have the option to do "your own thing" and take a break from touring for a day.  We are flexible!  If the weather isn't cooperating for a particular visit we'll change it up a bit and offer something else so you don't feel like you've missed out on anything.  So if you've always wanted to see Ireland but don't know where to start.....start by giving us a call.  Slainte!!

Pub Crawls & Detours

The charm and hospitality of the Irish, where do you find it?  In the PUB!  The pubs in Ireland are different than an American Bar.  The pubs are a gathering place for friends to meet and socialize.  They are a place for music, laughter and conversation.  So when you visit Ireland and you want to immerse yourself into their culture and meet the locals, you go to the pub.

 Because we want you to experience it all, on our tours we always have pub-crawls for those interested.  Our driver/guide Dave Yeates, of Dave Yeates Ireland Tours, always has a plan to lead a pub-crawl after dinner.  It’s a chance to meet some of the locals and listen to some good traditional music.   The Irish love the Americans and love to chat with them.  They will ask you about America and if you know their relative who lives in Boston!!!  It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about life in their community.

 All of the pubs in Ireland today are smoke free making it a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

 On every tour we design we always leave room for a Detour!  What we mean by that is that we will take you off the beaten track to places no tour bus has ever gone before.  With Dave’s knowledge and planning he somehow finds places that are simply amazing.  On several occasions we have been overcome with emotion at the pure beauty that was before us.  On other occasions we have laughed until we’ve cried, and again on another were in ahh of whose pub we were at.  We never really know for sure what the day will bring and it’s what makes Tours Galore and Dave Yeates Ireland Tours a step above the rest.

We always include the major attractions of the country but also add things that other tours simply miss.