The items cost €3,000 more than the Irish bidders had to spend, but the driving force behind the venture, Dingle man Michael O’Shea, said the outcome had ensured that important exploration memorabilia was co ming back home.
For the past eight years, Mr O’Shea has been campaigning to highlight the important role played by Irish figures in historic polar exploration.
Yesterday, having drummed up donations worth €35,000 from like minded enthusiasts, he headed off to Christies auction rooms in London with his sights set on a compass which was used by the legendary Co Kildare born explorer Ernest Shackleton.
The compass was expected to make between €6,000 and €8,000, but it was bought for €60,000 by an anonymous bidder.
“I was a bit disappointed by that, but this price was way beyond our means,” Mr O’Shea said last night.
The next explorer on his list was Corkman Patrick Keohane, originally from Courtmacsherry, who was 30 years old when he was picked as a member of the 1910-1912 British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition led by Captain Robert Scott. Yesterday, the Irish group bought Patrick Keohane’s sledge harness and weatherproof polar outfit as well as his tool kit and personal cutlery.
These items will be held in trust in Ireland for display in Irish museums.
In 1910, Scott became obsessed with the idea of being first to the South Pole. It was to be his second polar expedition.
Informed en route that Roald Amundsen was also going South, Scott found himself in a race with the Norwegian to be first to reach the Pole. On arriving at the Pole January 17/18, 1912, with a five-man party Scott found that Amundsen had been there a month earlier.
Those wishing to support Mr O’Shea’s ongoing initiative can contact him c/o Irish Rope Access, Dingle, Co. Kerry.