Family to retrace steps of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean

Tom Crean

The family of an Irish Antarctic hero is marking his bravery by following in his footsteps, 100 years on.

Aileen Crean O’Brien, grandaughter of Tom Crean, and her sons Morgan and Cian D’Arcy will this month recreate his uncharted traverse of South Georgia.

The mission took place during Kerryman Crean’s third voyage south, on Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance Expedition.

That voyage turned into one of the most remarkable rescue missions ever, after the ship became trapped in pack ice. The crew was forced to abandon the sinking vessel and make camp on the pack ice in the hope of reaching a hut with emergency supplies on Paulet Island, more than 300km away.

But the ice floated, forcing the men to sail north to Elephant Island on ill-equipped lifeboats. Soon realising there was slim chance of a rescue ship discovering them, Crean and a group of five others took on the arduous mission of sailing to South Georgia to organise a rescue.

The journey, over 1,500km through bitterly icy waters, took 17 days. Once there, they had to hike another 50km across a glacier, the first recorded crossing of the mountainous island.

In memory of the epic feat, Crean’s descendants will recreate the uncharted traverse of South Georgia. Following mountain and snow-skills training in Zacopane in Poland, and the Gap of Dunloe in Co Kerry, the family have been keeping up fitness in the gym and by pulling tyres to emulate the supply sleighs they will haul across the ice.

Morgan said the €76,000 adventure will take 35 days. “We will sail around South Georgia, visiting various places of historic significance and many areas of importance to the abundant wildlife of the South Atlantic.

“The highlight of our trip will be a four-day ski traverse of the island, including a crossing of The Crean Glacier.”

*A performance of Aidan Dooley’s one-man show, Tom Crean, Antarctic Explorer, will be staged at the Kenmare Bay Hotel on September 18.

Tickets are available from Tom Crean Fish and Wine, Kenmare. Donations also through the expedition’s online fundraising page: gogetfunding.com/tom–crean-family-expedition.


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