Kerryman Mike O'Shea finds fame ahead of Shackleton-type polar adventure

Irish adventurer Mike O’Shea has become an overnight celebrity in the unlikely setting of the Falkland Islands, where he is preparing to lead a team on a daring, Ernest Shackleton-inspired polar expedition.
Kerryman Mike O'Shea finds fame ahead of Shackleton-type polar adventure

Kerryman O’Shea, 45, and five fellow explorers have based themselves on the remote South Atlantic archipelago ahead of of an ambitious 28-day mission to complete the crossing of South Georgia via the so-called Shackleton route and to scale two previously unclimbed mountains.

However, stormy weather over the past few days has delayed the start of their adventure, as they bid to set sail across treacherous, iceberg-strewn waters onboard a specially-designed 60ft yacht.

But the crack team — which includes seasoned Cork adventurer Dr Clare O’Leary — is getting plenty of attention from many of the islands’ 3,000 inhabitants.

And their exploits have been celebrated in the outpost’s only newspaper, The Penguin News and on local radio.

In a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, O’Shea said: “Not ones to shy away from publicity, some of the team are making news in The Falklands. First Radio Falklands and then The Penguin News.”

It’s just over 100 years since Co Kildare-born Shackleton masterminded one of the greatest survival stories of all time during a pioneering mission to cross Antarctica from sea to sea, via the South Pole.

Just over a century ago disaster struck when the expedition’s ship Endurance became trapped in sea ice for nine months, before the vessel was finally crushed and abandoned.

Shackleton and his 28-man crew, which included fellow Irish explorer Tom Crean, endured the harsh polar winter before eventually finding rescue following an 800-mile (1,300km) open boat voyage on the Weddell sea — a feat which is heralded as the polar explorer’s greatest exploit. Against all the odds, the entire crew of the Endurance survived.

O’Shea, who earlier this year successfully crossed the Greenland ice cap, said the upcoming Shackleton-inspired adventure would be the fulfilment of a teenage dream.

His expedition is the latest in a series of adventures across the world’s largest ice sheets.

The Kerry explorer’s ice project has seen him previously cross the North Patagonian ice cap, Lake Baikal in Northern Russia, and the Southern Kilimanjaro ice cap.

His teammates for his latest expedition are Dr Clare O’Leary; Seanie Murphy, from Valentia Island, Co Kerry; Aidan Forde, a long-time member of Kerry Mountain Rescue; Keith McDonnell from Meath; and Alaskan-based New Yorker Tom Ruane.

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