Endurance dinner in honour of descendants

A special event will recreate a hasty yet lavish Christmas meal eaten by the men of The Endurance expedition before the ship was crushed by ice.

The Shackleton Christmas Dinner, which will be held in Cobh, Co Cork on December 22, will be attended by descendants of the ship’s crew.

Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, who was born in Co Kildare, abandoned his ship three days before Christmas as it was obvious the vessel would be crushed by ice at the South Pole.

However, before the crew disembarked they celebrated their Christmas dinner, washed down with plenty of grog. Each of the crew was given a small gift in the wardroom decorated with flags and bunting.

Shackleton wrote: ‘Later there was a really splendid dinner, consisting of turtle soup, whitebait, jugged hare, Christmas pudding, mince pies, dates, figs, and crystallised fruits, with rum and stout as drinks.’

To finish the evening, the men had a singsong and light entertainments. The crew then set up camp on the floating ice. After the ship sank, Shackleton and his men crowded into three small boats and made their way to Elephant Island, off the southern tip of Cape Horn.

He soon realised there was little hope of them being rescued there because it was far from normal shipping lanes. Shackleton decided to lead a team of five men on a 7m lifeboat to the inhabited South Georgia, close to the Falkland Islands.

Following 16 days at sea, they made it to South Georgia, where Shackleton trekked to a whaling station to organise a rescue effort. On August 25, 1916, he returned to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining crew members.

In 1921, he set off on a fourth mission to the South Pole. His goal was to circumnavigate the Antarctic, but on January 5, 1922, he had a heart attack and died. He is buried in South Georgia.

The dinner at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh will be attended by descendants of the Endurance’s crew, Brendan Crean O’Brien, a grandson of Tom Crean, and John Blackborow, grandson of Pierce Blackborow.

Tickets for the event are €100 per person and include food and drinks and a special performance by the sea shanty group the Molgoggers Cobh. All the food will be provided by local chef Michael Cleary. The event is the initiative of John O’Reilly, managing director of the Shackleton Endurance Exhibition, which is currently on display in Detroit.

Contact John O’Reilly at 086 852 3498 or joreilly@shackletonexhibition.com


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