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Historical Information Dunbrody is a 458 tonne three-masted barque, 176 feet (53.7 metres) long. Her hull length is 120 ft. (36.6 m), she has a beam of 28 ft (8.5 m), a draft of 11.5 ft (3.5 m) and has a sail area of 10,100 square ft. (c. 940 sq. m.). The present ship is a reconstruction of the original Dunbrody, built in Quebec in 1845 by Thomas Hamilton Oliver, an Irish emigrant from Co. Derry.
The original Dunbrody was a three-masted barque built in Quebec, Canada, for the Graves family of New Ross, Co. Wexford in 1845. She carried many emigrants to the new world from 1845-1870. The Dunbrody Project involves the construction of a full scale sea-going replica. The Dunbrody was finished in early 2001 and has been opened to visitors since 1st May 2001 at the quayside in New Ross.
From 1845 to 1851, between April and September, she carried passengers on her outward journeys to Canada and the USA. She usually carried 176 people but on one crossing, at the height of the Famine in 1847, she carried 313. .
Many of the passengers were the evicted tenants of Lord Fitzwilliam's Wicklow estates and Viscount de Vesci's Portlaoise estates. She carried two classes of passenger – the cabin passenger who paid between £5 and £8 and the steerage passenger who paid between £3 15s 0p and £4. This fare was at least the equivalent of two months income for a tenant farmer in the 1840's
Dunbrody remained in the Graves family ownership for 24 years. She was sold in1869 and became a British registered ship. In 1874, en route to Quebec from Cardiff, Dunbrody's captain chose not to wait for a pilot to assist him in navigating the St. Lawrence. He paid for this when he ran aground. She was fortunate, however, to be bought by a salvage company, repaired and sold on. Unfortunately, in 1875, she took her second and fatal grounding. Sailing home to Liverpool with a full timber cargo worth £12,500, a fierce gale blew up and drove her dangerously off her usual route towards the shores of Labrador. Though the exact details are not known, it is assumed that if she grounded fully laden with a timber cargo, her aging hull would have been broken up beyond economic repair.
The cabin passengers ( The cabin passengers (usually Protestant gentry) had food and services provided but the steerage passengers had to cook and fend for themselves. 1847 was the worst year of the Famine. In the first open months of the Spring 40 ships were waiting to disembark and the quarantine station at Grosse Île in Canada had more than 1,100 patients suffering in terrible conditions. In May 1847, Captain Baldwin finally landed his passengers at Grosse Île after a very long passage. In a letter addressed to William Graves, he reported "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 singled-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 usually help them!"