Turning a white elephant into a beagle

That dreadful white elephant the Jeanie Johnston, currently owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (whose purchase of the wretched thing was almost as big a mistake as their involvement in the Irish Glass Bottle site), is sitting in the Liffey acting as a famine museum.

Now the Grauniad tells us of a project to rebuild a replica of HMS Beagle in order to do science. It is not clear why a replica of a small, wooden, early nineteenth century sailing vessel — presumably with high maintenance costs — would provide a better platform for doing science than a modern steel motor vessel, but the promoters have their hearts set (again) on using a barque.

And, as it happens, the Jeanie Johnston is a barque, as was HMS Beagle while Darwin was aboard. Admittedly, the Jeanie Johnston is rather larger, but it might also cost a lot less than building a new Beagle from scratch. In fact, we could perhaps pay the Beagle folk to take it away.

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