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“Legacy of Wonder” Ernest Shackleton Memorial Unveiled In Westminster Abbey | PR Ireland

“Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.” The words of one of the world’s greatest explorers, Ernest Shackleton. He was born in Kilkea, Co. Kildare in 1874. During his life he proudly led three expeditions to Antarctica. Today, and a fitting tribute to his birthday, Thursday 15th February, Princess Royal, Princess Anne will unveil a memorial to him in the hallowed halls of Westminster Abbey. The memorial will sit beside other great explorers, pioneering sailors Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Francis Drake.

The family of Ernest Shackleton were extremely keen to feature strong elements of Ireland in the memorial. The piece itself was carved by sculptor Will Davies and incorporates striking Connemara marble and Kilkenny limestone to reflect Shackleton’s strong Irish heritage.

The inscription on the memorial features the names of Shackleton’s expedition ships and his family motto, fortitudine vincimus – by endurance we conquer.

Shackleton was awarded the Polar Medal and is very fondly remembered as one of the key pioneers associated with the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

It is also inscribed with the names of Shackleton’s expedition ships and his family motto, fortitudine vincimus – by endurance we conquer.

Shackleton’s first experience of the polar regions was as third officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition of 1901–1904, from which he was sent home early on health grounds.

In 1907, his Nimrod expedition aimed to be the first to reach the South Pole and although this was not achieved, it was the first expedition in history to travel within 100 miles of the South Pole and successfully ascend Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s second highest volcano.

Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 hoped to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. The expedition’s ship, Endurance, became stuck in pack ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915, and was lost until it was located by a British-led expedition in 2022, months after the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death.

The survival of Shackleton’s crew despite the sinking of Endurance highlighted his exceptional leadership. Shackleton, who led three expeditions to the Antarctic, had helped create a “new excitement about science” and a “deeper reverence for the world in which we live”, according to the Very Reverend Hoyle, who will dedicate the memorial.

While we celebrate Ernest Shackleton today for his great achievements, we must never forget the legacy of Kerry man Tom Crean, who was part of Shackleton’s crew and sailed on the Endurance. After the ship sank he spent 492 days drifting on the ice before undertaking a journey in the ship’s lifeboats to Elephant Island. He was a member of the crew which made a small-boat journey of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island to seek aid for the stranded party.

Paul

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