The first Irishman to set foot in explorer Ernest Shackleton’s cabin saw a dream come true of watching it arrive in Ireland to become a permanent exhibition.
Eugene Furlong, from Douglas, Cork had a fascination with explorers ever since he was seven and got a Ladybird book on Scott of the Antarctic.
In 2008, he was visiting the north of Norway and discovered Shackleton’s cabin, originally part of his ship Quest, was located nearby.
A few years later, he was told it was to be transported to the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, where it was to become an exhibit. Shackleton had died of a heart attack on the island and was buried there.
The Quest was later bought by a Norwegian shipyard and the cabin removed.
Eugene thought he had lost the chance to get the cabin brought back to Shackleton’s birthplace of Athy, Co Kildare.
“In 2013, I contacted a friend in Norway and asked him if the cabin had gone to South Georgia,” said Eugene. “He made a few phone calls and discovered it was still in Norway as the deal had fallen through.”
He later made contact with its owner Ulfe Bakke, who invited Eugene to see it.
“When I got inside the cabin it really blew my mind away to think I was the first Irishman in it since Shackleton died,” Eugene said.
“It was just brilliant. I went from 2013 back to 1922 and with the whole emotion of Shackleton, I was overwhelmed.”
He knew Ulfe wanted to find it a good home, so he invited him to Ireland to see sites associated with the famous explorer, especially the Shackleton Heritage Centre in Athy.
Ulfe was so impressed he decided to hand over the 10ft by 6ft cabin for free.
It has now been transported to Ireland by the Athy Shackleton Committee and will go to a company in Letterfrack, Co Galway, today where it will be treated by specialist conservationists.
“They have been told to have it ready before the last weekend in October 2016,” said Eugene. “It will be unveiled as a permanent exhibition in Athy to coincide with a special weekend dedicated to Shackleton.”
The explorer was born in 1874 and was chosen to go on Scott’s first Antarctic expedition in 1901.
Shackleton made his third trip to Antarctica in 1914 on the Endurance. He died from a heart attack on January 5, 1922, while anchored off Grytviken on South Georgia.
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