Shackleton: Anglo-Irish Explorer, Adventurer & Hero
'Sir Ernest Shackleton's name will forevermore be engraved with letters of fire in the history of Antarctic exploration' - Roald Amundsen, Norwegian Explorer & first person to reach the South Pole
On this day in 1909, Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition reached a Farthest South latitude of 88° 23' S, just 97.5 miles (156 km) from the South Pole. It was as close as anyone had been at the time. Shackleton was born on 15 February 1874, in Kilkea, County Kildare (his mother was from Co. Cork) and his Antarctic exploits made him a popular British hero, which saw him awarded a knighthood by King Edward VII in December, 1909.
The Nimrod Expedition of 1907–1909 was the first of three expeditions to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton, with the other two being: Endurance (1914-17) & Shackleton-Rowett Expedition (1921-22) from which Shackleton did not return having suffered a fatal heart attack upon arriving at South Georgia on January 5, 1922. He passed aged just 47.
Pictured: Shackleton's ship 'Nimrod' which was a much smaller vessel than those used by other Antarctic Explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott. Shackleton and Scott had a long history of competition and enmity, which lasted throughout their lives.
Last year, the wreck of the steam-yacht Endurance, which famously sank in 1915 during an expedition led by Shackleton was rediscovered. The shipwreck was found at a depth of 9,869 feet (3,008 meters) beneath West Antarctica‘s Weddell Sea.
Photo: The ship 'Endurance' which has certainly lived up to its name.
The Endurance is in remarkable condition due mostly to the cold conditions at the depth it rests. While Shackleton's Endurance expedition failed in its objectives, his effort has become much more well known for the truly remarkable and awe-inspiring story of survival against seemingly overwhelming odds. If you wish to learn more, please see the documentary, narrated by Liam Neeson, at the following link as well as a profile of Shackleton here.
Today, Shackleton's incredible legacy carries on in books, documentaries, talks and the relatively recent launch of the Shackleton Medal for the Protection of Polar Regions. There is no doubt that Ernest Shackleton is one of the greatest adventurers and explorers of all time while the exploits of two other Irishmen, Tom Crean (Gurtuchrane, Co. Kerry) and Timothy McCarthy (Kinsale, Co. Cork) continue to inspire.
Pictured: Ernest Shackleton's grave at Grytviken Cemetery, Grytviken, South Georgia.
Credit: Poseidon Expeditions
For more on the remarkable stories above, please see the following videos: